A promise, a college education and a future. Many students stress about having enough money to attend college. However, the city of Jeffersonville has a solution and recently announced that they have partnered with community college Ivy Tech to offer a two-year scholarship to the graduates of Jeffersonville High School, starting with the Class of 2019. The program, “Jeffersonville’s Promise,” means that graduates are now able to attend two years of college at Ivy Tech for free.
Scott Hawkins, a social studies teacher at Jeff High and a member of the city’s Redevelopment Commission, explained how the program came together. “The program started with Travis Haire at Ivy Tech,” Hawkins said. “Haire contacted the mayor, who mulled over the idea for a while and in turn presented it to Redevelopment Commission members.” Other Commision members include Mayor Mike Moore, fellow Councilman Matt Owen, Monty Snelling and Jack Vissing.
“Our Promise is based on a similar program instituted in Kalamazoo, Michigan more than 10 years ago, so we had data to look at concerning effectiveness and impact. Four of us voted for the expenditure,” he continued.
According to a press release by the city,students must meet the following requirements to qualify:
• A minimum of a 2.0 G.P.A. while in high school
• Maintain a minimum of a 2.5 G.P.A. at Ivy Tech
• Accept all federal and local aid as well as scholarships before the Ivy Tech scholarship, as the program is intended as a “last dollar scholarship”
• Complete the FAFSA (The Free Application For Student Federal Aid)
• Enroll in classes with the intent of getting a certificate, certification or degree
• Enroll in Ivy Tech during the summer, fall or spring after high school, starting in 2019
There are no student income requirements for the scholarship, but Jeff High Principal Julie Straight anticipates that the program will be most beneficial to the middle class. “Our lowest income students — if they want to go to college through grants and things — generally they’re going to get it paid for that opportunity,” Straight said. “But the middle of the road where you have working families who make just enough … there’s a lot of people in that situation because college is expensive.”
Some, like junior Sophie Weber, are extremely excited about the program. Weber, who has juvenile arthritis, says this will help her family pay for much of her college.“My family does not qualify for much financial aid, but most of what we make goes to my medical bills,” Weber said. “Without this help I could be stuck in years worth of debt.” With this scholarship, she said, “I am able to worry about my education more than my financial situation.”
However, Weber is concerned that the program’s money will run out. “I am worried that the money will not accommodate every student who meets the qualifications and wishes to pursue this opportunity,” she said. “Even with taking every financial aid and scholarship provided first, it is not cheap to fund all this.”
Hawkins explained where the money is coming from.“It is funded through the Redevelopment Commission, which receives funding through TIF districts throughout the city,” Hawkins said. “No taxes or fees will be raised to implement this Promise. The money is already there.”
Overall, Straight thinks that the program is a win and gives much hope to students.“Lots of people (are) very excited and… the kids… that’s the best part. It really can be life-changing… It brought tears to my eyes when we were at the announcement.” It’s a win situation for Jeff High students,” she said. “For Jeffersonville as a community, for employers in Jeffersonville, we’re going to have a more educated workforce. For Ivy Tech, they’re going to have more students. It’s just a win all the way around.”
Written by Greta Reel