Voices from the Idaho EdNews Community

Idaho Launch – a game changer for eastern Idaho students

Eastern Idaho’s high school seniors have a lot going on. There are so many things to think about and do as they complete this stage of their lives.

But now is also the time to prepare for what comes next. And those looking to attend a college or university, attain a two-year certificate, or complete a timely workforce training program have access to an unprecedented opportunity: Idaho LAUNCH.

This initiative, which was championed by Gov. Brad Little and approved by the legislature earlier this year, offers Idaho’s 2024 high school graduates a one-time grant that can cover tuition and fees at an eligible institution up to a maximum of $8,000.

Rick Aman, College of Eastern Idaho

The College of Eastern Idaho (CEI) is an eligible institution that offers instruction in many of the more than 244 areas identified as “in-demand.” Idaho National Laboratory (INL) is one of many employers actively seeking to hire skilled and trained professionals in many of these disciplines.

This $75 million initiative will enable up to 9,000 students to pursue education and training when they otherwise may not have been able to afford it.

Idaho LAUNCH offers students choices. Those considering a four-year degree can use their LAUNCH award to take general education classes at CEI, then transfer those credits to one of Idaho’s colleges or universities. Those seeking a two-year associate degree or certificate at CEI could have all their tuition and fees covered through an Idaho LAUNCH grant.

Either path can set students up for a rewarding career at a place like INL, which plays a major role in our nation’s efforts to power the future with clean, nuclear energy and secure our critical infrastructure.

INL is the nation’s nuclear energy research and development laboratory and will demonstrate several advanced nuclear reactors this decade. The lab is doing important cybersecurity and clean-energy research in areas such as biomass, electric-vehicle batteries and hydrogen production.

In addition to research scientists and engineers, INL will need to hire skilled trades workers, mechanics, technicians, bus drivers, fire fighters, security personnel, and more. Idaho LAUNCH – and the lab’s partnership with CEI – offers eastern Idahoans an opportunity to prepare for meaningful careers that enable them to make a great living here at home.

CEI offers classes in many in-demand areas, several in partnership with INL, and guarantees admission for Idaho high school graduates. If you apply to CEI, you will be granted general admission and have access to the life-changing opportunities envisioned by the voters of Bonneville County, who approved our community college in 2017.

In southeast Idaho alone, approximately 6,600 students are eligible to apply for Idaho LAUNCH. The application period began Oct. 3, and initial applications are due by Nov. 30. This isn’t the final deadline, but early application is important to secure your grant.

John Wagner, Idaho National Laboratory

Award letters will be sent out before the end of 2023. The sooner you can lock in your award, the sooner you can plan the next stage of your life.

To apply, go to https://nextsteps.idaho.gov/launch. If you are an Idaho resident, have graduated from an Idaho high school or equivalent, and are enrolled in or have applied to an in-demand career program at an eligible Idaho institution, simply fill out an application.

For a long time, we’ve searched for an affordable way to offer Idaho’s students the training and education they need to fill the jobs of the future. At the same time, we’ve searched for ways businesses can find the skilled workforce they need to continue driving Idaho’s economy.

Idaho LAUNCH offers an extraordinary opportunity for our students, our colleges and universities, and our businesses. Please seize this opportunity to chart your own future and keep Idaho on the cutting edge of education, business and industry.

John Wagner is the director of the Idaho National Laboratory and Rick Aman is the president of the College of Eastern Idaho.


John Wagner and Rick Aman

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