- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 4, 2015

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A freshman lawmaker is pushing a bill that would give state scholarships to Idaho high school students who graduate with college credits as long as they also have a matching private scholarship.

Republican Rep. Ryan Kerby of New Plymouth introduced the bill Wednesday to the House Education Committee. He said the main goal is to attract more students to attend Idaho public colleges.

“We want more kids to go to Idaho colleges, rather than so many of them going out of state,” he said.

Students who have 10 or more college credits would receive a $1,000 scholarship to a state college or university each year for two years, according to the bill. The scholarship amount doubles for students with 20 or more college credits. Students who earn an associate’s degree while in high school would receive a full ride for two years.

However, each state scholarship would need to be matched by a private sector scholarship, and the credits must also be accepted by the public college or university.

Kerby added that the bill would help boost Idaho’s college retention rate; 4 in 10 first-year college students in the state do not return for a second year, he said.

But some lawmakers, like Republican Rep. Steven Harris from Meridian, raised concerns that the bill excludes private and homeschool high school students.

“I think we have a constitutional obligation to the full body,” he said. “It’s not just a public school issue.”

Republican Rep. Lance Clow from Twin Falls said he thought adding private and homeschool students to the plan would be a manageable cost, because many of them may choose to attend private colleges anyway.

The bill is slated to cost $3.2 million per year, based on past numbers of public high school graduates with college credit who pursue public higher education in Idaho. The estimate did not account for the number of first-year students who do not return for a second year.

“All of the scholarship money will go straight to our public colleges and universities, so, from a budgetary standpoint, we know exactly where that money is going,” Kerby told the panel.

Students would be eligible for the scholarship for up to four years after graduation. This would allow students to join to military or go on a mission.

The committee will consider the plan and decide whether to bring it to a vote in the full House in the coming weeks.

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