Paying for Integrated Pathways: Kansas' Tiered Funding Model for Student Support
This is the final post in our series on state funding strategies to support integrated career pathways. It focuses on Kansas’ GED Accelerator and AO-K Proviso, two pieces of legislation designed to support students. Previously, we looked at Washington’s use of SNAP E&T funds and Illinois’ performance-based funding system.
For more information, read about why it is important to create a policy environment that is conducive to the success of programs like Accelerating Opportunity and why state-level solutions for support like this one are so critical.
Performance-Based Incentive Funds:
GED Accelerator and AO-K Proviso
On April 21, 2014, the Kansas legislature signed House Bill 2506 (HB2506) into law. Section 24 of HB2506 designates an appropriation of $1,905,228 for “Postsecondary education performance-based incentive funds”, known as the GED Accelerator. The GED Accelerator awards community and technical colleges with performance funding for students who concurrently earn a GED and an approved postsecondary credential. Colleges are eligible to receive up to $1,500—payment of $500 for completion of the GED and payment of $1,000 for completion of a high demand, state approved technical certificate—for students co-enrolled in adult basic skills and technical education pathway programs. Funding in this model also covers up to $170 of the cost of students taking the GED test. In order to receive the $170 incentive, colleges must verify that the student is enrolled in Adult Basic Education or provide other evidence that the student is pursuing a GED. This is a new and unprecedented approach for the state. It reinforces the Kansas Board of Regent’s 10-Year Strategic Agenda for higher education by committing to increase its economic standing and the quality of its workforce by increasing the number of Kansas’ adults who have a certificate, Associate’s, or Bachelor’s degree to 60 percent by 2020.
Also included in HB2506 is proviso language attached to the tuition for technical education line item. The proviso specifies payment of technical education tuition for adult students who are enrolled in technical education classes while obtaining a GED using Kansas’ Accelerating Opportunity program, known as AO-K. The total expenditure for the AO-K Proviso will be an amount not less than $500,000.
TANF Scholarship and Policy Implications
Kansas has developed a second significant source of funding for AO students as well. In 2013, the Kansas Board of Regents signed a memorandum of understanding with the Department for Children and Families to use Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds to provide tuition assistance for TANF-eligible students who enroll in and complete a 12-credit hour Accelerating Opportunity pathway. Known as the TANF Scholarship, this memorandum of understanding provides up to $1.7 million to cover tuition costs and some additional fees for students enrolled in an AO-K career pathway. In the case of the AO-K Proviso, the TANF Scholarship is utilized as the first available funding source for qualified students before accessing AO-K Proviso tuition funds.
The GED Accelerator and AO-K Proviso, as well as the TANF partnership, are policy changes that will positively impact the scale and sustainability of Accelerating Opportunity in Kansas. Colleges who are currently not AO-K colleges now have a unique opportunity and incentive to join AO-K and expand the reach of the program throughout the entire state. These policy changes also move toward addressing a significant challenge in implementing integrated career pathways models pertaining to cost, both to the college and the student. More importantly, these policy wins will keep the focus on investing in pathways leading to postsecondary education for academically underprepared adults.
To learn more about Kansas’ GED Accelerator, AO-K Proviso, TANF partnership and other policy innovations related to career pathways programs, please request access to the Accelerating Opportunity Braided Funding Toolkit. The toolkit contains a collection of innovative state and institutional level policy changes and funding strategies created and implemented by Accelerating Opportunity participant colleges. It also includes guidance and information on how to identify and weave together multiple state, local, and federal resources to support integrated career pathways programs.