Saving money to help your children attend college can seem nearly impossible sometimes since college costs tend to increase every year. How is a parent supposed to keep up and put away enough money to support their child’s education with trends like that?

Thankfully for its residents, Kentucky is doing its best to help its students find ways to earn as much financial aid as possible for college. The Bluegrass State is also providing students’ parents with a great opportunity to help save as much money as possible for college.

One of the reasons why Kentucky tries to put an emphasis on making college affordable for its students is because only 49.9% of Kentucky high school students go on to attend college, according to the Kentucky Department of Education; only 4.7% go on to attend a technical school or receive technical training as well.

To help raise those percentages, the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) and the Kentucky Lottery have paired up to fund various financial aid programs to help Kentucky high school students afford to attend college. The KHEAA also put together a savings program to help students afford college as well.

Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship

The Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) is a merit-based scholarship that provides financial assistance for college to Kentucky high school students who earn good grades during each of their high school years.

The KEES is a cumulative award, so there’s a higher incentive for students to do well in high school from their freshman year to their senior year. The better grades a student earns, the more financial aid they’ll receive.

The minimum GPA a Kentucky high school student can receive money for each year is a 2.5 GPA. Here’s a breakdown of the base amounts of financial aid students can earn each year for their GPA:

There are also bonus KEES awards students can earn during high school for receiving good, standardized test scores.

Students who receive a minimum of a 15 on the ACT can receive bonus aid towards college. The higher a student scores on the ACT though, the more money they’ll receive:

Bonus award money can also be given for high test scores on Advanced Placement (AP) tests, International Baccalaureate (IB) tests and Cambridge Advanced International (CAI) tests. Just like the rest of the KEES money, this aid can be used for each year of college.

To be eligible for these supplemental awards though, not only must a student receive the qualifying test scores, but they must be eligible for free or reduced-price lunches or they must have been eligible during any year of high school for free or reduced-price lunches.

Eligible students who take AP tests and score:

  • A 3 will earn $200
  • A 4 will earn $250
  • A 5 will earn $300

Eligible students who take IB tests and score:

  • A 5 will earn $200
  • A 6 will earn $250
  • A 7 will earn $300

Eligible students who take CAI tests and score:

  • An E will earn $200
  • A C or a D will earn $250
  • An A*, A or B will earn $300

In order to use the KEES funding a student has accumulated, the student must attend one of the eligible Kentucky postsecondary institutions.

College Access Program Grant

The College Access Program (CAP) Grant is a need-based grant for eligible undergraduate college students who are attending an eligible Kentucky college or technical school on at least a half-time basis. The award is provided to students on a first-come, first-served basis.

To be eligible for the CAP Grant, a student must:

  • Be a Kentucky resident
  • Demonstrate a financial need to receive funding
  • Attend an eligible Kentucky college
    • This can include public and private colleges and universities, for-profit schools and technical colleges
  • Have no past due financial obligations to KHEAA or any Title IV programs
  • Be enrolled at least in a half-time basis in a program at least two years in length

To apply for the CAP Grant, a student must complete and file their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and it’s encouraged to file FAFSA as soon as a student possibly can.

Eligible CAP Grant students who attend a two-year postsecondary institution can receive up to $2,000 in funding while those who attend a four-year postsecondary institution can receive up to $2,200 in funding.

Kentucky Tuition Grant

The Kentucky Tuition Grant (KTG) is also a need-based grant which is awarded to eligible, undergraduate, full-time students attending a private Kentucky college. This grant is also provided to students on a first-come, first-served basis.

To be eligible to receive the KTG, a student must:

  • Be a Kentucky resident
  • Demonstrate a financial need to receive funding (as determined by the private college)
  • Attend an eligible Kentucky college
  • Be enrolled full-time in an associate or bachelor’s degree program
  • Have no past due financial obligations to KHEAA or to any Title IV program

To apply for the KTG, students must complete their FAFSA as early as possible. Eligible students will receive up to $2,960 from the KTG.

KHEAA Teacher Scholarship Program

The KHEAA Teacher Scholarship Program provides financial aid to highly qualified Kentucky students pursuing teaching certifications at participating Kentucky institutions.

To be eligible for the KHEAA Teacher Scholarship Program, a student must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be a Kentucky resident
  • Meet one of the two following criteria:
    • Be admitted to a teaching education program for the purpose of pursuing an initial teaching certification at a participating Kentucky institution OR
    • Be a certified teacher (primary school through 12th grade) pursuing additional certification for classroom teaching
  • Demonstrate a financial need to receive funding
  • Meet the student’s postsecondary school’s satisfactory academic progress requirements
  • Teach one semester at a Kentucky public or certified non-public school for each semester the scholarship is received
  • Repay the scholarship plus interest if the teacher education program or service requirements is not completed

The service commitment requirement for the KHEAA Teacher Scholarship Program includes:

  • Completing the teacher education program
  • Providing one semester of qualified teaching service at a school certified by the Kentucky Board of Education for each semester the scholarship is received

In addition to the above requirements, the student must also complete and file their FAFSA and submit a specific KHEAA Teacher Scholarship Program application. (Note:  to apply for the 2021-2022 academic year, an application must be submitted by Monday, May 3, 2021.)

Eligible students can receive up to $2,500 per semester from the KHEAA Teacher Scholarship Program.

KY Saves 529

KY Saves 529 is an education savings account program offered to Kentucky residents by the KHEAA and Ascensus—the nation’s leading 529 plan administrator—to help families easily save for future educational expenses.

Families can open KY Saves 529 plans for their children for as little as $25 per month with recurring contributions or even just a one-time $25 opening contribution. A nice feature about this savings account is the account will grow over time tax-free of federal and state taxes.

The savings account can be used at eligible schools worldwide, not just in the state of Kentucky. If any reason should occur where the beneficiary of the account cannot use it, a family can change the beneficiary to another child or student in need.

The savings account can be used on educational expenses such as:

  • College tuition, trade school tuition and even K-12 tuition
  • Room and board
  • Fees
  • Computers and laptops
  • Books
  • Tools (if required by the educational program)

Having the KY Saves 529 account does not impact a student’s eligibility for need-based financial aid from KHEAA.

Another cool feature of the KY Saves 529 account is, once the account is open, the beneficiary is locked into in-state tuition for Kentucky postsecondary institutions. Even if the student moves out-of-state and then wants to attend a Kentucky college later on, they can do so at in-state rates. (Note:  This applies if the net contribution amount of at least $2,400 is in the savings account at the end of a continuous eight-year period during in-state residency).

Major Colleges in Kentucky

There are many qualifying postsecondary institutions in Kentucky that students can attend to take advantage of their KHEAA financial aid. Some of these institutions include:

  • Centre College in Danville (private)
  • Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond (public)
  • Georgetown College in Georgetown (private)
  • Kentucky State University in Frankfort (public)
  • Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro (private)
  • Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights (public)
  • University of Kentucky in Lexington (public)
  • University of Louisville in Louisville (public)
  • Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green (public)

Kentucky families should be thrilled to learn about the opportunities the state provides them to help them save for future educational purposes and for students to continuously earn funding to put towards their college expenses during high school.