Kentucky should budget at least $64 million more a year for need-based college financial aid and should retool the criteria for the main scholarship program that provides money for students who go to in-state colleges, a new report recommends.
After meeting over the past year, a task force of educators, lawmakers and other officials provided 14 key recommendations to Gov. Steve Beshear, who commissioned the group to look into how to make going to college in Kentucky more affordable.
The group recommends changing the criteria for high school students to qualify for Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarships so they match the standards being developed as part of Senate Bill 1, which calls for developing higher expectations for kindergarten through 12th grade students in math, science and reading.
The task force also found Kentucky needed $64 million more last year to cover grants for lower income Kentuckians who qualified for financial aid but didn't receive it.
But Kentucky is facing a "bleak" budget outlook over the next two years, Beshear said. He issued a statement late Tuesday that gave no indication whether he would push for any of the group's recommendations during the next legislative session.
Among the group's other suggestions:
■ Kentucky should restructure financial aid programs to provide more options for part-time and non-traditional students.
■ Colleges and universities should provide more work opportunities for students.
■ The eight four-year public universities and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System should continue working to make it easier for students to transfer.
■ Business, education and public officials should hold a "state summit" to look at ways to save money on campuses.