Over the last five years, as tuition was drastically increased at Kansas University, officials were quick to point out that a sizable portion of the additional tuition dollars would go toward financial aid for deserving students who might not otherwise be able to afford to attend the university.
And yet, it seems that KU isn't willing to take advantage of those funds to help some students who may be forced to leave school because they have lost the assistance they were receiving from a federal program for the children of migrant workers.
For the past five years, KU has received grant funds through the College Assistance Migrant Program, operated by the U.S. Department of Education. KU's application for continued grant funding for this academic year was denied, and, although some of the 20 students involved received some help in the fall semester, they will be left to their own devices next semester.
The CAMP program is designed to help break the cycle of poverty for children of migrant workers. On salaries that a KU survey showed averaged about $7.75 per hour, paying university tuition can be an impossible dream for the parents of these students. First-year students in the program received funding for six hours of college credit and a $750 stipend for the semester. Without that funding, they are unlikely to be able to continue in school.
The cost of supporting the 20 students (mostly of Mexican or Vietnamese descent) who will lose federal funds isn't large in the big scheme of KU's financial aid program. A KU project assistant for CAMP said she would continue the mentoring program for the students who remain enrolled, so the university would only need to pick up six hours of tuition and $750 a semester for each student. Assuming they have been making adequate academic progress, the students seem to warrant that kind of investment.
KU officials have given a lot of lip service to providing tuition assistance to worthy students and to increasing the representation of ethnic minorities in KU's student body. Helping students who had received CAMP funding would further both goals at a relatively small cost to the university. It's a small investment for the university that could make a huge difference in the lives of 20 young students. KU officials should step up and offer these students a helping hand.