New financial aid program makes college more accessible to Idaho residents

Illustration by Sydney Smith

The choice to go to college can be a difficult one, and one of the biggest concerns for potential students is the cost.

A majority of people who have not completed college say the reason is because they “couldn’t afford to get a four-year degree,” according to a Pew Research poll from 2021.

Scholarship applications can be intimidating, or individuals might not think they are qualified for certain funding.

With Governor Brad Little putting a high focus and emphasis on education, post-secondary education might become more attainable to students in the state of Idaho.

Working with the state’s Department of Education as well as Next Steps Idaho, LAUNCH is a new program that aims to address the issue of college attendance and degree attainment.

“With this grant, the Governor aims to help more Idaho students start on the pathway to success by removing barriers to higher education and in-demand career training,” said Madison Hardy, the Press Secretary to Governor Brad Little.

Idaho has made a substantial leap in education ranking throughout the years. In 2016, Idaho was ranked 31 in the nation for student achievement, but the most recent Ed Week study from Oct. 27, 2021, puts Idaho at 17 

The grant has five requirements to apply. Students must graduate from an Idaho high school or equivalent, such as public school, charter school, private school, homeschool or GED.

Students must also be an Idaho resident, as well as apply to an eligible Idaho institution. These institutions include Boise State University, University of Idaho, Idaho State University, College of Idaho, as well as College of Western Idaho, Northwest Nazarene University and Lewis and Clark State College.

Although the opportunity is open to a lot of students looking to pursue college for the first time, it is not available retroactively.

“It is not able to pay for high school students that graduated prior to the class of 2024,” said Dr. Sherawn Reberry, the program manager of Idaho LAUNCH in a statement to The Arbiter.

This program may not only lead to an increase in admission and attendance, but it could lead to an increase in first generation students.

“I think it is a really fantastic opportunity to attract some first generation students who may not have seen themselves as going to college or having the resources to do so,” said Dr. Sherry Dismuke, the assistant dean for teacher education at Boise State University.

“I think it’s going to open doors for a lot of first generation students and provide a vision to see themselves as a college student,” said Dr. Dismuke.

Dr. Dismuke also highlighted the benefit of this program to bring new teachers into the field. 

“I applaud [Governor] Brad Little for coming at it from the side of how do we attract high school students into the field of teaching,”  said Dr. Dismuke.

The program opened up its applications Oct. 3 and initial applications are due Nov. 30. LAUNCH officially closes its applications April 15, 2024.

To learn more about how to apply to the program you can visit Next Steps Idaho

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