The Kansas Board of Regents will be asked to endorse the creation of a need-based grant program for university students and reforms of state-funded financial aid programs.
A task force appointed by the board to study the state's financial aid system has agreed to present its recommendations to regents next week in Wichita.
"The regents will be supportive. They've been seeking a streamlined process to put financial aid on sound footing for the future," said Jim Dawson, vice president for student affairs at Fort Hays State University and chair of the task force.
The financial aid strategy adopted by regents will be forwarded to the Legislature, which has the authority to amend state-funded financial aid progams.
Stanley Koplik, regents' executive director, said cost will be the primary factor when evaluating the task force's recommendations.
"There are inherent philosophical concepts in the report that are good," he said. "The question is, are they practical for implementation."
THE TASK force was charged with studying all state-funded financial assistance programs and the needs of Kansas students before proposing reforms.
A key task force recommendation is a proprosal to create the need-based Kansas supplemental grant program for students at regents' universities.
The state doesn't have a need-based grant program for state university students. This type of program is the cornerstone of financial aid in other states, Dawson said.
"The absence of a program in this state does seriously impede the ability of state financial aid officers to insure either access or choice," the task force's report says.
The report also says the state's current state scholarship program is "cumbersome to administer." It's discriminatory to blacks and Hispanics to base awards on a student's ACT score, Dawson said.
He said completion of the regents' recommended high school curriculum should be substituted for the ACT score.
IN ADDITION, some students designated as "state scholars" don't receive an award under the state scholarship program because they don't have financial need. The task force recommends a minimum award of $100 and maximum award of $1,000 be established, Dawsons said.
The task force's report calls for reform of the state's teacher and nursing scholarship programs.
The programs offer students financial aid based on a pledge to work as a teacher or nurse in the state. If the recipient decides not to complete the work pledge, the scholarship reverts to a high-interest loan.
"These progams are confusing and an administrative nightmare," Dawson said.
He said the task force believes that aid under these programs should be designated as a loan rather than a scholarship so "people taking the money understand what they're getting."
Under the task force's proposal, the state would repay the loans as long as the teacher or nurse continues to work in the field.
DAWSON SAID the task force concluded that funding of the state's minority scholarship program should be greatly increased. The demand among the state's minority students far surpasses the availability of existing funds, he said.
Under the task force's plan, the minority scholarship, state scholarship, proposed supplemental grant and the tuition grant program for non-regents schools would be merged into a comprehensive program in 1996.