Youth get great deal on local learning: Kenai Peninsula College offers tuition breaks for residents seeking education

Voices of the Peninsula

Posted: Sunday, May 07, 2006

A recent letter to the editor (Clarion, April 26) about Kenai Peninsula College offering resident tuition for non-residents this summer provides me the opportunity to increase Peninsula residents’ awareness of how KPC is making higher education more accessible to our youth.

I’m disappointed, but not surprised, that some are not aware of the various KPC and borough programs that make college affordable and the best deal in the state. One example is the JumpStart program that allows high school seniors to take up to six credits a semester at the cost of $35/credit versus the regular cost of $109.

Last year, KPC began offering this program during the summer to students that would be seniors in the fall semester. Our Peninsula youth can further their academic success while their parents save $74/credit. You won’t find a similar program anywhere else in Alaska, except at KPC.

Another program that many may not be aware of is the Tech Prep program. This year, KPC and Kenai Peninsula Borough School District faculty worked together to articulate eight courses where students can get college credit for high school classes like welding, accounting, power mechanics and computer applications. The cost for these courses is $25/credit. That’s an $84/credit savings ($252 for a 3-credit course) which many — that are aware — would agree is a very prudent way of educating our future community members and leaders.

With all the rightful concern over the lack of career and technical education opportunities afforded Peninsula students, this is a step in the right direction and we intend to do even more in the future.

Similar to Tech Prep, a partnership between KPC and KPBSD that is making college even more affordable is the dual credit option whereby high school students can take college courses that also count toward high school graduation. At JumpStart rates, students can save upwards of $11,000 when compared to similar state colleges and universities in the Lower 48 if they take the 18 credits allowed under this program at KPC. Parents, you won’t find a better way to save money on your student’s college costs anywhere in Alaska.

It’s obvious that KPC is not getting the word out well enough about these programs when letters to the editor are written that show even our youth leaders not being aware of these programs.

We’re trying to rectify this by working even closer with KPBSD administrators and counselors to inform parents about these opportunities and we agree that “our own youths should be the focus here” as the Clarion letter writer concluded.

We also have created a one-page fact sheet about these programs that will be sent out in next month’s Soldotna and Kenai Chamber of Commerce newsletters. We are looking to our community leaders and business owners to spread the word about the steps we are taking to focus on furthering the educational opportunities for students in our community.

Parents: if you have a teenager in, or “getting ready to enter,” the secondary education system, I urge you to check out the facts and then be pleasantly surprised at what you learn.

All it takes is a phone call to KPC Student Services at 262-0330 or a call to your student’s high school principal or counselor. College is more affordable on the Kenai than anywhere else in Alaska; ask questions, learn more, save money and take advantage of these opportunities, for your kid’s sake.

Gary J. Turner is the director of Kenai Peninsula College with campuses in Soldotna and Homer, extension sites in Seward and Anchorage, and the Mining and Petroleum Training Service based in Anchorage and Soldotna.

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