The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) and the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) recently released the Kentucky Innovative Scholarship Pilot Program annual report for 2022-2023.

The program, funded by Kentucky’s legislature in 2022, is the nation’s first statewide scholarship program for displaced individuals who have legally resettled in the Commonwealth and wish to pursue an undergraduate postsecondary certificate or degree at a Kentucky higher education institution.

The legislature’s action comes as a critical response to the state’s shifting population demographics. Kentucky ranks fourth in the nation for its number of displaced persons compared to other states. While displaced students may receive Pell grants, they are often left with unmet financial need and rely on other aid sources to make college a reality. During the program’s pilot phase, nearly 350 displaced students received last-dollar financial assistance and support services to attend two- and four-year institutions in a wide variety of career-focused programs.

“I’d like to commend our state’s leaders for their investment not only in the program, but in the transformative power of postsecondary education,” said CPE President Aaron Thompson. “Through these scholarships, we are fueling endless opportunities for our displaced students and supplying a source of diverse talent for Kentucky’s workforce.”

To strengthen the program’s outcomes, a portion of the funding was allocated to provide professional development and resources for campus staff serving displaced students. As part of these efforts, several partnerships among postsecondary, local, federal, national and philanthropic organizations were established to strengthen supports around these student populations. The collaborative model, built on best practices, has been recognized in the Chronicle of Higher Education and by national higher education organizations.

“The Innovative Scholarship program has empowered Kentucky’s displaced students, allowing them to pursue postsecondary credentials and achieve success in the Commonwealth despite the challenges they have faced,” said KHEAA Executive Director Jo Carole Ellis. “We commend the General Assembly on its vision and are proud to have administered the pilot program in partnership with CPE.”

In addition to serving displaced students, the program also enabled 146 Kentucky students to learn with others from across 20 different countries to help develop citizens and a culturally competent workforce that appreciate the value of cultural differences and international collaboration.

To learn more about the program and view the report, visit the CPE Supporting Displaced Students and International Exchange Opportunities webpage.