The nation’s first pot scholarship program is making college possible for even more students in Pueblo this year; 600, to be exact.
Pueblo County commissioners announced Monday they would likely award more than 180 more awards to college-bound seniors in Pueblo than what was awarded last year. This year nearly $750,000 is available for scholarships. Last year, the county awarded $420,000 to students; county officials said that amount was just coincidentally similar to the 4/20 reference.
In recent years between 300 and 400 students graduate from Pueblo high schools. Every high school senior in the county is automatically eligible, but the scholarship that comes from the recreational marijuana revenue is only awarded to Pueblo high school graduates who plan to attend college at CSU-Pueblo or Pueblo Community College.
“Even if you’re not sure if you’re eligible, you should apply. We have $75,000 available for students who may not fall into the Pueblo County Scholarship’s defined criteria,” Pueblo Hispanic Education Foundation Executive Director Beverly Duran said in a statement.
Pueblo County voters decided in 2015 to allocate 50 percent of the marijuana excise tax collected in Pueblo County to the scholarship fund. The remainder of that money goes to a list of community projects, such as trails and parks.
As the excise tax grows the amount of money available for scholarships is expected to, too. And that could mean the difference in going to college for some Pueblo students.
“It is so critically important to make college affordable for our youth if we want to provide long-term economic opportunity to our community,” Pueblo County Commissioner Sal Pace said of the program last year. “Too many kids can’t afford to go to college, with this program we are taking cannabis-tax revenue and using it to provide for a brighter future in Pueblo.”