For adults returning to college, ‘free’ tuition isn’t enough

As it did for a lot of people, the pandemic gave Kara Reilly time to think.

“My turning moment was when I was shut down and I had 11 weeks to sit around,” said Reilly, 49, a hairdresser in Louisville, Kentucky, whose salon closed early in the pandemic. Seeing that “things could literally end in a split moment” pushed her to revisit an old goal: going to college, maybe to become a high school English teacher.

Then, on June 8 of this year, Jefferson Community & Technical College  announced a “Jump-Start Grant” offering a year’s free tuition for new  students 25 and older in the region.

A week later, 344 students had applied. By month’s end, there were 665 (including Reilly), which was more than double the college’s June 2019 applications.

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