Will Ravenstein

Wellington Daily News

ARKANSAS CITY — Cowley College hosted Kansas Governor Sam Brownback Friday, celebrating the accomplishment of making education affordable.

Brownback, during his state of the state speech, called for Kansas schools to offer a baccalaureate degree for $15,000 or less.

Cowley College, with a partnership with Fort Hays State University, has met that goal, and is the first secondary education institution to step forward to do so.

“In response to the challenge set by the governor a student can now get a baccalaureate degree for less than $15,000 if they start with Cowley College while in high school and then move on to Fort Hays State University,” Cowley College President Dr. Dennis C. Rittle said. “We heard the governor’s call and got to work figuring out how to make a $15,000 dream a reality for Kansas students.”

Brownback told the audience members gathered that the largest level of debt in the country is that of education and Kansas needs an educated workforce to move forward.

“We have to have an educated work force,” Brownback said. “We need about 70 percent of kids coming out of high school to get post-secondary certification/degree or some ability they need to enter the work force. We need 70 percent and we are no where near that right now.”

Brownback called the partnership with Fort Hays State a pathway for young people to realize a baccalaureate degree with a reasonable price tag.

One area of secondary education that Kansas was lacking in was technical education, Brownback said. Senate Bill 155 that was passed has increased the number of technical students from 3,300 to 10,000 by allowing high school students close to free education while in high school.

“The state stepped up and said that while a student is in high school they would pay for all technical education classes,” Brownback said. “There were some fields we didn’t pay for, but by in large most technical fields. The state provides nearly $12 million in funding.”

With the Sumner County Campus set to break ground this year and a large part of the campus focusing on manufacturing technology training, this is a win for area students.

“I want people to make more money,” Brownback said. “To do that, you generally have to have a technical skill. That’s what I want to see is our Kansas people getting the technical skills to be marketable.”