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SHELBY COUNTY, Ind. (Sept. 24, 2015) – You could go to college for free in Shelby County. The Shelbyville City Council and the Shelby County Council both unanimously approved a measure Wednesday night that will pay for two years at Ivy Tech Community College for students who qualify.

“The data shows right now Indiana is 41st in the nation as far as college attainment with 34 percent of Indiana residents having an associate degree of higher,” said Jason Brown, Shelbyville City Council President.

In Shelby County, only 27 percent of residents receive an associate degree or higher. A major move passed Wednesday by local leadership is looking to change that.

“Essentially what we’re going to be doing is turning it into a K-14 community for them,” said Brown.

County residents who qualify will get two free years paid for at Ivy Tech Community College. Students need to apply for a federal PELL grant, and what the grant does not cover, the Advantage Shelby County Program will.

Brown says the decision to pass the program was an easy one. Many on council he says saw the program as an investment in the city’s future.

“We see our kids go to college or graduate high school and move on and not come back. We need to have them come back to keep Shelby County great and make it greater,” he said.

“They said this is what we need to move our students out of high school, into college, on a path that will get them a job,” said Kathleen Lee, Chancellor of Central Indiana Ivy Tech.

Shelby County is the first county in Indiana offering this type of program.

Lee says not only is Shelby County paving the way for the future of higher education, they’re making dreams come true for hundreds of students who otherwise, would never step foot on a college campus.

“This is going to reach the students who don’t normally think that college is possible for them. I can’t go, I’m maybe the first in my family, we don’t have a history of going to college, or I just can’t afford college. This will take that right out of the equation,” she said.

Advantage Shelby County is being paid for almost entirely by funds collected from the Indiana Grand Racing Casino.

County and city officials hope Advantage Shelby County will take effect in January 2016, just in time for the spring semester.