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Butler’s Start Smart Program Enhances Affordability for Area Students

Butler Graduates
Published: Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

Butler Community College started a new financial incentive called Start Smart for currently enrolled high school students in Fall 2013. And, it’s paying off.

“We want college and access to top-notch education to be affordable,” said Dr. Kim Krull, Butler Community College President. “This was a new concept for us and one we were willing to financially support.”

Start Smart works like this -- High school students who enroll full time at Butler within a year of their high school graduation are credited for tuition paid to Butler while in high school for courses they completed with a “C” or higher.

Word is spreading and Butler is fine with that. In Fall 2014, $85,191 was credited to 137 new freshman students. So far for Fall 2015, 148 students have taken advantage of Start Smart to the tune of $105,135.

“My hope is that 150 or more students take advantage of this opportunity,” said Dr. Jessica Ohman, associate vice president of student services.

The benefits provide a win-win. Of course, it helps bring more students to Butler. That also means more students are getting the support services and skills they need before transferring to their choice university. In addition, according to Kansas Board of Regents transfer data, Butler transfer students perform as well as their native university counterparts. And, evidence is indicating positive things for the Start Smart students and their performance at Butler. The retention rate from fall 2014 to spring 2015 was 90%.

“This is also a way Butler can help lower the costs of getting a college degree,” said Ohman. “Some of these students bring with them nearly one full semester of credit, which means those students then receive nearly one full semester in free tuition.

Butler does not consider Start Smart to be exclusive. Students are also eligible to receive any financial aid or other scholarships they qualify for. However, Start Smart does only reimburse for the tuition paid at the time, and scholarship courses and Senate Bill 155 classes are exempt from the Start Smart program.

More about Senate Bill 155
Kansas State Senate Bill 155 authorizes post-secondary institutions to waive the cost of tuition for high school juniors and seniors who meet residency requirements for enrollment in any tiered career technical course. Textbooks, program fees and any other additional fees may apply. SB 155 includes but is not limited to such programs as accounting, business administration technology, composite engineering technology, digital media, early childhood education, livestock management, and physician coding/billing. For more information about SB 155 or Start Smart contact Jolene Keith, director of High School Academic Partnerships, at 316.322.3254 or email. Information is also available at