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Bedke visits Shelley High for Idaho Launch seminar

SHELLEY, Idaho (KIFI) — A new scholarship program is standing by to help graduating seniors reach their career dreams, but first, students have to apply for the Idaho Launch program. Applications will officially close on April 1, 2024, so interested students should review the list of approved majors soon.

Lt. Gov. Scott Bedke visited seniors at Shelley High School Thursday to share more about the Idaho Launch program and the opportunities it provides.

"We've always had academic scholarships for those that were headed to college or university, but never as a state offered that same amount of help to kids that were going to go into more vocational programs," Bedke said. "I can't imagine it's good policy that we're going to help educate lawyers, but we're not going to help educate plumbers and electricians."

While the Launch program is primarily advertised as an aid for high-demand STEM careers and trade jobs, it also includes financial support for majors in cosmetology, graphic design, agriculture, teaching, and writing. The program has already had substantial interest from students.

"There is a lot of interest statewide in the Idaho Launch program. And, we'll match the demand up with the money that the legislature allocates for these jobs," he said.

Bedke also addressed concerns about how some majors are excluded from Idaho Launch aid.

"We're emphasizing the jobs that we know are there," he said. "It's those programs that we're emphasizing at this point because those are the jobs that are happening in the economy."

One goal of the Idaho Launch program is to encourage homegrown students to pursue higher education in the Gem State and later enter the Idaho workforce. But, with inflation changing affordability, most students wanted to know how job wages in Idaho will keep pace with the cost of living. According to the 2023 Zillow Home Value Index, Idaho ranks 10th in the nation for the most expensive housing market.

"Well, that's back to the fact that we've been discovered and everybody wants to move here," Bedke said. "And so, there's more competition for the houses that we do have now. That will eventually correct itself, but right now, we have a housing shortage."

The Launch program was first introduced by Governor Brad Little in 2022. Bedke says it is still in its early stages and may continue to evolve with the needs of Idaho students.

"The graduating seniors of 2024 will be the first class that would qualify for this additional help," he said. "And then we'll track it, we'll see how it works and how we can change it to make it better."

The first Idaho Launch award letters will be sent out by Dec. 31.

Lt. Governor Bedke speaking to seniors at Shelley High School about the Idaho Launch scholarship program.
Article Topic Follows: Idaho

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Ashley Chilcutt

Ashley is a reporter and producer for Local News 8.


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