If you’re worried about the cost of college, you’re not alone. Cost continues to top the list of concerns students and their families have about college.

But for students interested in high-demand career fields including business and IT, construction and trades, transportation and logistics, advanced manufacturing and health care, the Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship could make a degree tuition-free.

If you’re a college-bound Kentucky resident who doesn’t already have an associate degree or higher, you need to check out this scholarship. There are no age or income limitations.

From nursing, to welding, to diesel technology, to business administration, there are more than 20 programs at ECTC covered by the scholarship. That includes two-year degree options as well as certificates that can be completed in as little as four months.

In the 2021-22 academic year, the scholarship paid nearly $1.2 million for 434 ECTC students. Whether it’s a matter of out-of-pocket costs, debt or a barrier that would have kept them from landing their dream career, there’s no doubt the scholarship makes a difference for ECTC students.

Respiratory Care student Austin Decker, of Clarkson, is one of those 434 students. He’s always wanted to work in respiratory care, in part because of his personal experience with asthma, he said. Hence, being accepted into ECTC’s respiratory care program was an important moment in his educational journey. With his tuition paid, he doesn’t have to juggle a work schedule, and can focus on his studies and his longtime career goal.

“The application is simple. It’s as easy as it gets to get your tuition paid,” Decker said. “I will graduate debt-free next year.”

Graduating with opportunities, not debt. We know how important that is to students. Ours is the lowest tuition in the state — $182 per credit hour — and opportunities such as the Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship and many other resources make the total cost of college even more affordable.

The scholarship covers up to 60 credit hours and up to $400 per year in fees. New this year, there is no time limit on the scholarship. Until now, the scholarship could be used for up to four semesters only. This is great news for part-time students who want to take only two or three classes per semester.

The steps to apply for the scholarship are simple. First, apply to ECTC at elizabethtown.kctcs.edu. Second, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at fafsa.gov as early as Oct. 1 the year prior to starting college. And third, complete the one-page Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship application at kheaa.com. The scholarship application is released in May for the following school year, meaning those planning to start college in Fall 2023 will hold off on this step.

Money is still available for those interested in starting during the 2022-23 school year, and there’s still time to enroll for Fall 2022 classes that begin Aug. 15.

To see a full list of certificate, diploma and degree options eligible for the scholarship, go to workreadyky.com. If you have questions about the Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship, affording college or completing financial aid forms, we’re ready to help. Email us at elizabethtownfinancialaidoffice@kctcs.edu.

Michael Barlow is Director of Financial Aid at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College. He can be reached at michael.barlow@kctcs.edu or 270-769-2371.

Michael Barlow is Director of Financial Aid at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College. He can be reached at michael.barlow@kctcs.edu or 270-769-2371.

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