Maegan Huffman had tried to finish her college degree for years, but working full time and being a mom made it difficult.
The KC Scholars program is changing that, opening up millions of dollars in scholarship opportunities to local learners including Huffman and her daughter, Micala.
After dropping out of high school when Micala was born, Huffman was able to earn her GED and build a career as a surgical scheduling coordinator and medical assistant at Truman Medical Center — Lakewood in Lee’s Summit. The Cass County resident had taken college courses, but was never able to finish a degree. She realized it was hurting her career.
“You need a degree to move up the career ladder. It wasn’t always like that. Experience would get you where you want to go,” Huffman said, adding that she decided to be the first in her family to get a college degree.
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When Micala was a junior at Pleasant Valley High School, a counselor suggested she apply for the KC Scholars program. Huffman saw the program also offered opportunities for adult learners. She entered an application at the same time as Micala.
They both were awarded scholarships.
Huffman is now back in school taking classes at Metropolitan Community College. Micala is headed to the University of Missouri in the fall.
“It’s hard to be a mom, work full time and go to school. This has helped me be able to finish what I started,” Huffman said.
Huffman’s scholarship for adult learners awards $5,000 a year. Micala received the scholarship for traditional learners, which goes to high school 11th graders and provides $10,000 a year for up to five years. Huffman says the scholarship means Micala will be able to graduate without having to take out loans as she earns a teaching degree at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
“My daughter will be able to get her bachelor’s degree, and between grants and this scholarship we won’t be saddled with debt,” Huffman said.
When Emiline Stewart graduated from Lee’s Summit West High School, she earned a 2017 KC Scholarship, which pays for many of her credit hours. She is studying cyber-security at the University of Central Missouri and living on campus.
“It’s really amazing because I wouldn’t have had enough money to go to college without it. So, it frees my family from a financial burden,” Stewart said.
This is only the third cycle for these scholarships. Those awarded can attend one of 17 colleges and universities in the KC Scholars network, which are all in and near the Kansas City Area, including University of Missouri, Columbia; University of Kansas, Lawrence; and Kansas State University in Manhattan. Online courses at these schools are covered. The scholarship is paid directly to the college.
Applicants must be from one of six counties surrounding the Kansas City area: Wyandotte and Johnson counties in Kansas and Cass, Clay, Jackson and Platte counties in Missouri.
Over the past two years, the KC Scholars program has already awarded 1,500 scholarships to area learners. Between 1,000 to 1,200 new scholarships are planned for May of 2019.
The 501c3 organization was incubated at the Kauffman Foundation to promote higher education in the Kansas City metro area, specifically for low and modest-income students and adults.
Scholarships are available to three groups of learners: Adult learners (age 24 or older) who have previously earned at least 12 hours of credit, but not completed a degree or who have an associate’s degree and want to complete a bachelor’s degree can receive $5,000 a year.
High school 11th-graders can apply for a traditional scholarship which awards $10,000 a year renewable for up to five years.
High school ninth-graders can apply for a college savings match and incentive scholarship. At least 50 of these students will also be eligible for a 4:1 match on savings, up to $7,000.
The application cycle for 2019 scholarships is open until midnight on March 1.Visit kcscholars.org to learn more and apply.