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Cumberlands Partners with Whitley and Knox Officials' in Effort to Improve Educational Levels

Williamsburg, Ky. - University of the Cumberlands (UC) partnered with Whitley County Judge Executive Pat White, Jr., the Whitley County Fiscal Court, Knox County Judge Executive J.M. Hall and Knox County Fiscal Court to submit a standardized grant application through the Governor's Office for Local Government for scholarships from the coal severance fund to increase the number of citizens with an earned bachelor's degree.

"I want to thank Judge White, Judge Hall, and the Whitely and Knox County Fiscal Courts for their leadership in supporting not only the citizens of their respective counties, but also for citizens in all 25 coal counties in Eastern Kentucky by applying for scholarship assistance from the coal severance fund,” commented Dr. Jim Taylor, President, University of the Cumberlands on Monday after the Knox County Fiscal Court passed the resolution supporting the grant application. Whitley County Fiscal Court passed the resolution last week.

The grant application focuses on the Southeastern Kentucky coal region and counties designated by the Governor's Office of Local Government as "coal counties". The scholarship formula was developed to be as uncomplicated as possible: takes the school’s tuition plus $1,000 for textbooks; subtract all state and federal grants and scholarships; the student would be eligible for a coal severance scholarship of up to 50% of the remaining balance with the other 50% paid from the institution and other aid based on need.

The coal severance scholarship grant application, if successful, would allow college students who have a legal home permanent address in any one of the coal designated counties and who attend a college or university located in any one of the 25 coal designated counties to be eligible for the coal scholarship. As with other financial aid programs, eligibility would cease when and if the designated grant funds are exhausted or when applications cease. In addition, because of the expertise of the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority in administering Kentucky financial aid programs, they have been contacted as a potential partner to administer the coal scholarship funds.

"We know that students have different needs and learning styles, so this application will allow students to choose where they would like to study, whether on the campus of one of the regions public or private four year institutions or on one of the KCTCS campuses with a vision to transfer and pursue a baccalaureate degree", stated Taylor. "With the region needing more than 60,000 additional citizens with an earned bachelor's degree to catch up with the national average, it is important to allow students the flexibility to begin the journey toward a bachelor's degree at an institution that meets their individual needs. The local Fiscal Courts and Judge Executives recognize this need, and thus our application is student centered," continued Taylor.

"We express our appreciation to the Governor and his Office for Local Government for the opportunity provided to apply for such a grant. In the end the goal of this request is to provide student centered support to improve the number of citizens educated at a bachelor's degree level. As a direct result the region’s economic development leaders will have a more educated population to offer potential employers. In addition, statistics indicate that with improved education comes improved health status. We appreciate the time, energy and leadership of Judge White, Judge Hall and the Whitley and Knox County Fiscal Courts. In addition, our heartfelt gratitude goes out to the moms, dads and other family members who go to work everyday mining the coal which makes this fund possible. It only makes sense that these miners and their families should reap the benefits of the fund," concluded Taylor.

Located in Williamsburg, KY, University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction which currently offers four undergraduate degrees in more than 40 major fields of study and nine pre-professional programs; and seven graduate degrees.