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Ready for LAUNCH: As new grants are available for in-demand careers, Idaho's seniors consider next steps

Posted at 5:12 PM, Nov 02, 2023

TWIN FALLS, Idaho — High school students are being inundated with information about what happens after graduation. Now, with the new Idaho LAUNCH grants added to other funding options, there is more for prospective graduates to keep track of than ever before.

At Twin Falls High School, I met seniors Matthew and Noah. Both said they like outdoors stuff, like biking, skiing, hiking, and swimming. Both are relieved that their junior year is over (that junior year is brutal, they said) and now, as seniors, they’re getting a barrage of information about what comes after graduation.

But because both of them keep it simple, they already have ideas about where their next steps lead.

“I kind of always thought I would go to college,” Thompson told Idaho News 6. “My parents always told me it's what’s after high school, so it’s just what I always planned on doing.”

Matthew Bjorneberg said that before the 5-page list of in-demand careers that qualify for the Launch grants was released, he had decided to get involved in forestry and soil & water sciences.

“That is one of the things on it, so it's pretty much a no-brainer, to sign up,” Bjorneberg told Idaho News 6.

The LAUNCH grants will help fund Idaho high schoolers who enroll in a state college, university, or trade school and are pursuing an in-demand career, like nursing, carpentry, trucking, even ranching, and farming.

“It’s pretty much every job in Idaho right now that’s in demand,” Bjorneberg said. “Foresters, ranchers, lawyers, and doctors, all the way down to bartenders if that’s what you want to do. You pretty much get money for everything.”

For Thompson, LAUNCH didn't so much change the direction he wanted to go in, but it did help confirm one of his options.

“LAUNCH has definitely reinforced that idea of going on to pursue medicine, you know what I mean, because it's an in-demand career, but also [that] there’s a lot of schooling and that can get expensive, like an extra however much money, especially $8,000 can go a long way in helping with that.”

RELATED | Idaho LAUNCH education grant covers 80% of the cost of attending CWI

There's a lot of deadlines with college or work training, and there’s a lot of applications to keep track of, so on Wednesday, representatives from the State Board of Education were at the College of Southern Idaho for an informational session to answer questions from students and parents about all the new funding opportunities that are coming up.

After presenting an overview of all the different funding opportunities, Jenni Kimball from the State Board of Education worked with parents and students to get them logged in to the main starting point, NextStepsIdaho.gov.

“There’s a lot of great opportunities that the state is offering this year, and we know that there’s a lot of different deadlines and different forms to fill out,” Kimball told Idaho News 6. “So we wanted to come and try to provide as much communication as we could to make sure students and families feel comfortable, and actually be able to walk some of those families through the application process.”