As KU tuition climbs, so does financial aid

Kansas University junior Patrick Sweet has a multipronged approach to paying for college.

Scholarships. Loans. At least two jobs, but sometimes three.

“It’s hard,” Sweet said. “I’m usually pretty stretched with classes and work and everything.”

As KU’s tuition increases, more students are applying for and receiving financial aid. And there is a continued interest in scholarships.

“For the past few years we have seen a steady increase in the number of applications,” said Brenda Maigaard, KU student financial aid director.

KU is in the midst of a five-year tuition enhancement plan, raising rates to help pay for “enhancements” such as new positions, technology upgrades and salary increases.

Base undergraduate tuition at the Lawrence campus now is $2,412 per semester for Kansas residents and $6,638 for nonresidents.

In 2001-02, KU received about 15,700 applications for aid, Maigaard said, and by 2004-05 the number had reached almost 23,000. The figures include students who applied but chose not to attend KU.

KU officials say part of the new tuition revenue is returned to students through need-based tuition grants of up to $2,000 per year. Funding for those grants has increased from $1.72 million in 2002-03 to $6.8 million this academic year.

Overall aid, including loans, to KU students on the Lawrence campus increased from $114.8 million in 2003 to $147.5 million in 2005.

Potential students always ask about scholarships, said Lisa Pinamonti Kress, director of KU’s Office of Admissions and Scholarships.

“It’s a constant question,” she said.

KU offers multiple scholarships, but its highest is the Perfect Achievement, given to students who get perfect scores on the ACT or SAT. The scholarship – more than $10,000 a year – covers tuition, housing, meals and a book stipend.

Sweet is taking on the cost of his education on his own. He has several scholarships, including the Summerfield scholarship, awarded based on a student’s academic achievement, community service and leadership.

Though he’s pretty busy juggling work, school, time at the gym and a social life, he thinks it’s all worth it. KU’s tuition is comparable with others, he said.

“I think I’m getting my money’s worth, for sure,” Sweet said.