Kansas University changing scholarship offerings for incoming freshman

Kansas University will dramatically change the way it offers scholarships to incoming freshmen, putting more of a focus on four-year renewable scholarships and letting students know upfront what level of aid they can expect based on their high school GPA and standardized test scores.

The new scholarships, KU leaders say, are designed to attract new students to KU.

“It’s a good program. It’s where we want to go,” said KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. “We want to use our funding to pool more of it so that it not only helps the students, but also helps us in terms of who we want to recruit.”

The effort matches her goals to not just recruit high-quality students, but to retain them, too, because the scholarships are available for four years only, she said.

“Graduating in four years becomes more important,” she said.

To put more scholarship money in renewable scholarships available for freshmen, KU realigned some of its existing funds to front-load more scholarship money.

Lisa Pinamonti Kress, KU’s director of admissions, said a number of elements will help her recruit students. Recruits are frequently asking her how much scholarship money is available and how much of it is renewable.

“With the state of the economy, we’ve definitely heard that students and parents would like to know what it costs for the entire four years,” she said.

The new scholarships, paired with KU’s four-year guaranteed tuition compact, allow them to do that, she said.

Now, if students know their high school GPA and their standardized test scores, they’ll know how much money they’ll get, and they’ll get a letter within two weeks of being admitted, she said.

The deadline to be considered for scholarships has been moved up slightly, to Nov. 1 from Dec. 1, she said. And gone are those scholarship essays that students had to write in the past, Kress said, along with a resume-like form that listed all the extracurricular activities a student had participated in.

Before the change, KU had four-year renewable scholarships, but they were mostly reserved for the highest-achieving students, she said. Today, most of KU’s scholarships are one-time awards with an average of about $1,000 or $1,500, she said. Funds that supported those scholarships will be redirected to the new renewable scholarships, she said.

Those “signing bonuses” didn’t align with KU’s desire to link recruitment with retention of students, said Matt Melvin, KU’s associate vice provost for recruitment and enrollment.

To secure other funding for the new program, Melvin said KU made a number of other changes to its existing scholarships. A scholarship for perfect ACT scores was eliminated. The criteria to renew the scholarships were strengthened, with the KU GPA requirement moving from 3.25 to 3.4. And KU worked with schools and departments to use funds that had been reserved for awards for upperclassmen.

Some of the out-of-state awards will be financed using tuition waivers.

He said KU would also be offering assistance to low-income families that qualify for federal Pell Grants. If Kansas students meet minimum academic standards, KU would use a combination of grants and scholarships to provide payment for full tuition and fees for four years for those students, he said. They would also have to meet academic standards each year to keep the scholarship.

“It’s going to ensure not only that the best and brightest are going to come to KU; it’s going to ensure that that best and brightest are going to come to KU regardless of their ability to pay,” Melvin said.

KU officials plan to launch an affordability website for prospective students soon.

Dale Seuferling, president and CEO of the KU Endowment Association, said mostly existing funds were being used to support the new scholarships. For example, two of KU’s existing renewable scholarships, the Summerfield and Watkins-Berger scholarships, would no longer exist moving forward.

But the funds that support them would still be used to provide money for the highest-level renewable award given to Kansas residents, he said. And students will still receive a letter that informs them which donor was responsible for their scholarship.

And as KU continues with its comprehensive fundraising campaign, now in the silent stage, acquiring new funds for scholarships will remain a priority, he said. The new scholarships will allow them to show donors the emphasis KU is placing on renewable scholarships.

“It really provides, I think, a much more efficient and marketable program that will be better understood by parents and the students,” he said.

New scholarships for incoming freshman: Kansas University is offering several new renewable scholarships for freshmen entering in the fall of 2012. The freshmen will be able to look at a grid and tell what level of scholarship they qualify for.

Kansas Resident Renewable Scholarships

National Merit Finalist, National Achievement Finalist, National Hispanic: Scholar Must select KU as No. 1 college choice with National Merit

Scholarship Corp.; $40,000 ($10,000 per year); 30 KU hours + 3.4 GPA

Chancellor 32 ACT/1400 SAT, 3.85 GPA; $20,000 ($5,000 per year); 30 KU hours + 3.4 GPA

Traditions 31 ACT/1360 SAT, 3.75 GPA; $16,000 ($4,000 per year); 30 KU hours + 3.4 GPA

Crimson & Blue 28 ACT/1250 SAT, 3.5 GPA; $8,000 ($2,000 per year); 30 KU hours + 3.4 GPA

Rock Chalk 25 ACT/1130 SAT, 3.5 GPA; $4,000 ($1,000 per year); 30 KU hours + 3.4 GPA

Jayhawk 24 ACT/1090 SAT, 3.75 GPA; $4,000 ($1,000 per year); 30 KU hours + 3.4 GPA

KU Pell Advantage (for students who qualify to receive a Pell Grant) 22 ACT/1020 SAT, 3.25 GPA; Combination of scholarships and grants will fund all tuition and fees; 24 KU hours + 2.5 GPA

Nonresident Renewable Scholarships

National Merit Finalist, National Achievement Finalist, National Hispanic Scholar: Must select KU as No. 1 college choice with National Merit Scholarship Corp.; $40,000 ($10,000 per year); 30 KU hours + 3.4 GPA

Midwest Student Exchange Program* 24 ACT/1090 SAT, 3.25 GPA; $37,200 ($9,300 per year); 30 KU hours + 3.4 GPA

KU Excellence 28 ACT/1250 SAT, 3.5 GPA; $37,200 ($9,300 per year); 30 KU hours + 3.4 GPA

KU Distinction 25 ACT/1130 SAT, 3.5 GPA; $12,000 ($3,000 per year); 30 KU hours + 3.4 GPA

KU Achievement 24 ACT/1090 SAT, 3.75 GPA; $8,000 ($2,000 per year); 30 KU hours + 3.4 GPA

*Available for students living in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota or Wisconsin.

Jayhawk Generations Scholarships Available for students who have a parent, step-parent, grandparent, step-grandparent or legal guardian who graduated from KU.

28 ACT/1250 SAT, 3.5 GPA; $37,200 ($9,300 per year); 30 KU hours + 3.4 GPA

26-27 ACT/1170-1240 SAT, 3.5 GPA; $17,200 ($4,300 per year); 30 KU hours + 3.4 GPA

24-25 ACT/1090-1160 SAT, 3.5 GPA; $10,320 ($2,580 per year); 30 KU hours + 3.4 GPA

By Andy Hyland

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