1. How did the Rotary Scholars Program come about, and what ultimately led to the Hopkinsville Rotary Club's decision to implement the initiative?
For several years, there has been an increased emphasis inside of Rotary to try and reach the young people that wanted to attend college, but could not – or did not know how to – qualify for a Rotary loan. This is what led to the implementation of our current scholarship program. The feeling was that the scholarships helped, but still did not reach every student. Thus, the creation of the Rotary Scholars Program. By forming a Steering Committee (comprised of individuals from every facet of our community) and studying similar programs that exist in other American cities, the Hopkinsville Rotary Club was able to create a program that can reach every local student. Now, all of our young people will have the opportunity to pursue their post-secondary dreams.
2. Why is the Rotary Scholars Program important to Hopkinsville Community College and to local students?
Studies show that the higher the level of educational attainment a student reaches, the more money they will make over their lifetime. Studies also show that a higher percentage of students enter the workforce in the same community in which they are schooled. Accordingly, the Rotary Scholars Program not only assists students as they begin their college educations, but does so without the worry of the major financial constraints. In addition, because these students will be attending classes at HCC, there is a greater chance that Hopkinsville and Christian County's workforce will be larger, more qualified, and better compensated.
3. On an even larger scale, how is the Rotary Scholars Program relevant?
As the Community Vision Plan brought to light, many of the challenges we are experiencing locally are centered around education. The areas of concern are as far-reaching as the number of issues. Matters are compounded for schools with the state's looming budget cuts, and for students with their need for increased federal loans. However, the Rotary Scholars Program seeks to address all of these issues. The program reaches out to students at a younger age (8th grade), and the requirements serve as an incentive for a longer period (9th grade – Associates Degree). There is a proverbial "carrot" hanging in front of every student. This motivation is enough to increase the college going rate. Plus, because any eligible student can attend HCC tuition free, many of the loan balances that can take years to pay are now relieved.
4. Is the Hopkinsville Rotary Club aware of any other initiative like the Rotary Scholars Program in Kentucky or the United States?
Tuition guarantees are gaining momentum across the nation, with more than 20 cities either establishing such programs or planting the idea in hopes that private donors or taxpayers will contribute the money needed to help offset the staggering increases in college costs. The HopkinsvilleRotary Scholars Program is similar to the School Counts Program in Madisonville, KY (modeled after a program in New Jersey), where students are currently benefiting from the financial assistance. All programs work in partnership with local schools to raise expectation levels for students who are capable of attending college but do not have the financial means or capability to acquire funding.
5. How does the Rotary Scholars Program fall in line with the Hopkinsville Rotary Club's mission and past initiative?
Almost sixty years ago the Hopkinsville Rotary Club established a student loan program, the purpose of which was to increase the number of local students seeking a post-secondary education. To date, over $8,000,000 has been loaned to some 9,000 students to help defray the college costs. It seems that the Rotary Scholars Program is a natural extension of early attempts to educate our local students. Now, however, there is incentive at a much earlier age.
6. How will the Rotary Scholars Program affect the Hopkinsville Rotary Club's Student Loan Program?
The Rotary Scholars Program is a covenant to encourage local students to take advantage of Hopkinsville Community College's educational opportunities in order to improve our community's work force and the educational attainment level. As such, the Rotary Scholars Program should be an opportunity to enhance the current Student Loan Program. Low-interest loans have been at the heart of the Hopkinsville Rotary Club for over a half a century. Loans will always be needed for those students wishing to pursue their academic goals away from HCC. Furthermore, even those students who qualify for and take advantage of the Rotary Scholars Program may need a loan to pay for books and other school supplies. In either case, the Student Loan Program will still be available to assist.
7. Will the Hopkinsville Rotary Club be offering a similar initiative to that of the Rotary Scholars Program that can be used at other colleges and universities?
Due to financial constraints, the Rotary Scholars Program only offers financial assistance for those eligible students choosing to attend Hopkinsville Community College. Although, it is the hope of the Hopkinsville Rotary Club that a similar initiative will one day be available for those students pursuing their post-secondary educations elsewhere. Feasibility studies are currently underway.
8. How will the Rotary Scholars Program affect the Hopkinsville Rotary Club's Scholarship Program?
At this time, the Hopkinsville Rotary Club still offers Scholarship Program to first year freshman students. The Rotary Scholars Program is merely an additional offering, encouraging local students to make the most of their high school opportunities and pursue a post-secondary education.
9. What are the "nuts and bolts" of the Rotary Scholars Program?
The Rotary Scholars Program will take effect with the high school graduating classes of 2012. Eligibility requirements include:
a. Who will be eligible?
Regardless of a student's county of residence, any student that graduates from Christian County High School, Hopkinsville High School, Heritage Christian Academy, or University Heights Academy, and meets the stated requirements will be eligible.
b. What are the eligibility criteria?
i. While in high school, each student must enroll in and successfully complete an Orientation to College course at Hopkinsville Community College (tuition will be waived by HCC).
ii. The student must graduate with a cumulative high school GPA of 2.5 or higher.
iii. The student must achieve a cumulative high school attendance of 95% or above.
iv. The student must never have been expelled from high school.
v. The student and their guardian must complete an application for federal financial aid.
vi. The student must enroll full-time at Hopkinsville Community College immediately after high school and maintain standards for Satisfactory Academic Progress as described by the U.S. Department of Education.
c. What is the amount of aid possible?
Students who meet the aforementioned criteria will be eligible to receive a scholarship up to the full amount required to pay for college tuition. The full-tuition scholarship will be good for four consecutive semesters. Federal PELL scholarships and Kentucky KEES scholarships will be applied prior to the Rotary Scholars Program award, which is applied as "last dollar paid."
d. Is the award a scholarship or is there some connection as a loan?
The award is a scholarship, and as such, there is no expectation of re-payment.
10. What is the anticipated cost of the Rotary Scholars Program?
While it is possible to know what the Rotary Scholars Program would have costs based on past precedent, it is impossible to place an exact dollar amount on the program's future cost for three reasons: First, there is no guarantee that Federal PELL grants or state KEES money will be available for future students. Secondly, it is not possible to know what tuition costs will be in future years. And lastly, no one knows just how many students – who wouldn't have previously met the program's requirements – will now be motivated to earn the scholarship, or how many students – who initially planned on going elsewhere for their post-secondary education – will attend Hopkinsville Community College instead. Thus, the Hopkinsville Rotary Club can only estimate what the Rotary Scholars Program will cost, and based on extensive calculations, year-one expenses should be approximately $90,000. Subsequent years are estimated at $180,000.
11. How does the Hopkinsville Rotary Club plan to cover the cost of the Rotary Scholars Program?
A definitive fundraising plan is still being drafted, but several solicitation efforts will be utilized over the next four years (since the first "expense" will not be incurred until the 2012 class graduates). A capital campaign will be implemented to raise the crux of the necessary funds, and the remaining costs will be covered by private donations, corporate gifts, and a percentage of the Rotary Auction's proceeds.
12. Will the Hopkinsville Rotary Club accept private donations for the Rotary Scholars Program, and should these donations be funneled through the annual Rotary Auction or given separately?
The only reason the Hopkinsville Rotary Club felt the Rotary Scholars Program had a chance to be implemented is because of the generosity and support that the community has always shown during the annual Rotary Auction. All contributions – including private donations, corporate gifts, or even adding the Rotary Scholars Program as a beneficiary to a will or an estate plan – are welcomed. In fact, anyone wishing to make an immediate impact may do so by dropping off or mailing a donation to the Hopkinsville Rotary Club, or may earmark a donation to the Rotary Auction for the Rotary Scholars Program.
For more information on the Rotary Scholars Program:
Manager of External Education Program
Hopkinsville Community College
P.O. Box 2100
Hopkinsville, KY 42241-2100