Monday, January 14, 2002

Scholarship program ailing

UK's coal revenues coming up short

The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON — As its mining income vanishes, a scholarship program for Appalachian students is struggling to survive at the University of Kentucky.

        Robinson scholarships — renewable, all-expenses-paid awards — help first-generation college students from eastern Kentucky. Money for the program, started five years ago, comes mostly from coal mining and also from logging on one-third of the 15,000-acre Robinson Forest that UK owns in Knott, Perry and Breathitt counties.

        Those revenues have dwindled, as a result of low coal prices and a lower-than-expected supply of coal — leading to a smaller endowment than expected. Meanwhile, investment income on the endowment also has been lower than projected. Officials say they don't think their current endowment of $15.4 million will be enough to handle the number of students they want the program to cover.

        As a result, UK has permanently scaled back the scholarship program, and officials say its relatively modest endowment may not allow it to continue past this decade.

        Overall, 394 students have been promised an all-expenses-paid scholarship to UK — an award valued at $11,100.


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- Scholarship program ailing