Launch of KC Connection program will slash tuition costs for qualifying students

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Kilgore College plans to make higher education a reality for more students by offering sizable tuition discounts to those who qualify for a new program.

At a press conference Wednesday morning, KC President Dr. Brenda Kays announced the KC Connection program and congratulated five local students who signed contracts with the college.

“Today we are excited to announce a defining moment in the history of Kilgore College and in the lives of East Texas students who recognize the importance of obtaining a post-secondary educational credential,” Kays said at the meeting held in the Stewart H. McLaurin Administration Building.

The five students being recognized were Austin Huckabee, Perla Vazquez and Charli Marcantel from Kilgore High School, as well as Kaitlyn Pearson from Sabine High School and Tristen Banton from West Rusk High.

On Monday, KC’s board of trustees unanimously voted to approve a 40 percent discount for dual-credit students who enroll in college-level courses while still in high school and then enroll at KC after high school graduation. Dual-credit students already enjoyed a discount on KC courses taken while still in high school; that discount will now also apply to courses they take while in college.

The new program is intended to boost matriculation rates among students who earn college credits while in high school.

“According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, approximately 22 percent of the students who take dual-credit courses with Kilgore College don’t ever enroll at KC, they don’t enroll with another community college nor do they enroll with a university. This promise is designed to connect those students with KC so that they don’t forfeit their dual-credit coursework by not matriculating,” Kays said.

KC Connection is part of a broad strategy outlined in the college’s Strategic Plan. Goals in the plan include increasing the number of students who earn a degree or certificate from KC and increasing KC’s presence at area high schools.

Kays said the program is also a part of the state’s 60x30TX Higher Education Plan, or “60 by 30” plan, which aims to increase the percentage of Texas citizens aged 25-34 who hold certificates or degrees to 60 percent by 2030.

“Our desire is to not only make college accessible for students but it is to also provide them with the education and skills necessary to earn a family-supporting wage,” Kays said.

The discount is applicable to students seeking an associate’s degree for transfer to a four-year university, an associate’s degree to pursue a career and for those seeking a credential to enter the workforce immediately after leaving KC.

In order to earn and maintain the discount, students must enroll at KC immediately following high school graduation and must have earned at least 12 credit hours of dual-credit with KC with a 2.0 or better grade point average. They must also declare a major and make progress towards completion of a degree or credential.

Qualifying students must also complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid each academic year and complete a KC scholarship application. By combining the tuition discount with FAFSA support and KC scholarships, some students may be able to earn a degree or credential at KC for little or no out-of-pocket costs.

Students expressed excitement about the opportunity to attend KC with their tuition costs cut nearly in half.

“I feel very honored. I’m very happy to be going here,” Pearson said.

“I feel like it will benefit me and my family as well. I look forward to it and I’m very excited,” Vazquez said.

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