LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Go to college or eat. That’s the choice some students at Jefferson County Public Schools face, and the gravity of the situation was only recently discovered.
When the Rotary Promise Scholarship Program started in 2012, the club wanted to take away financial barriers from Western and Iroquois High School students who enroll at JCTC.
They raised a million dollars to give away for tuition.
"What we were not prepared for was that these students, more than likely, are granted full scholarships because of their Pell Grants and because of their social economic position,” mentor program leader Walt Kunau said.
While federal grants covered tuition, "life" got in the way for some of those students.
"Kids that go into our program are typically the kids that the family depends on,” Kunau said.
Kunau said he even heard a story of a student who had to choose between paying for the TARC bus to get to class or buying milk for her family.
So starting with the Class of 2019, students who enroll immediately at JCTC and have an annual household income of less than $40,000 will be eligible for opportunity grants.
Students who apply for these grants could get as much as $3,000 over a three year period.
“This money is to make sure that they stay in school,” Kunau said. “It could be used for rent, it could be used for food, it could be used for supplies. It could be used for anything the students needs.”