LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Kentucky's high school seniors soon will be able to tap into an electronic system to send transcripts to a long list of colleges and universities for free, an offering from a trio of education agencies aimed at easing the stress and expense of the application process.
The new system, called Kentucky eTranscript, is expected to be phased in statewide by March 2014, state Department of Education chief of staff Tommy Floyd said Monday. With the push of a button, the transcripts -- proof of students' academic performances -- will be sent to any participating colleges or universities for free, he said.
Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson, who joined in announcing the program, said the initiative will advance the state's efforts to promote post-high school education.
"Our game plan in the commonwealth ... is to ensure that we do everything possible to get our young people to understand that you cannot stop at high school," Abramson said. "Those days are over. Maybe your parents, maybe your grandparents did quite well with a high school diploma.
"But the bottom line is the best odds for your success are going to ultimately be the chance to go on to college."
The costs of Kentucky eTranscript are being underwritten by the state education department, the Council on Postsecondary Education and the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority. Jefferson County will be the first Kentucky school district to make the electronic program available systemwide.
At the outset, 45 Kentucky colleges and universities are participating in the program, along with a number of out-of-state schools, education officials said. Students can submit transcripts to as many participating schools as they like for free. There will be a $2 charge to send a transcript to a nonparticipating institution.
Derek Alamilla Utrilla, a senior at Moore High School in Louisville, called the looming college application process stressful. Seniors want to get transcripts sent as soon as possible in hopes of cutting the anxious time spent waiting to find out whether they've been accepted at their favorite schools, he said.
"This is something that we can really use," he said. "As high school seniors, it's a benefit for us of not wasting time, money and effort."
The service will be available around the clock, education officials said. Students will be able to upload additional information, including letters of recommendation, to be delivered to their lists of schools. Students can track the process online. As a result, students may be able to complete their entire application process online.
A secure online portal is designed to keep student information confidential.
Carl Rollins, executive director of the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority, said the final approval for admissions can often be "tied up" by the lack of a transcript.
"Anything we can do to make that easier is going to make it much easier on our students, reduce their stress level," he said.
The electronic system will enable high school counselors to spend more time advising students and less time processing paperwork, Rollins said.
"Admissions people from all over this state are probably jumping up and down right now," he said.