Archive for Sunday, January 6, 2008

Regents seek more grants for students

January 6, 2008

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— It's not the biggest ticket item in the Kansas Board of Regents' request for an increase in state funding.

But officials say it is needed to ensure that more Kansans can get a college education.

The regents are seeking a $150.5 million, or 18.1 percent increase when the Legislature starts its session next week.

Included in that proposal is a $3 million increase in the comprehensive grant program, which provides financial assistance to students.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who has recommended increases in the past for the grant program, said the regents' recommendation would certainly get consideration when she delivers her budget at the outset of the legislative session.

"Continued focus on higher education is critical for the innovation economy that we need for the future," Sebelius said in a recent interview.

"We're looking at all aspects of the proposal," she said. That includes "how we attract more workers in certain areas and fields; scholarship proposals; how we make school more affordable for more Kansas kids."

Started in 1999, the comprehensive grant program helps financially needy Kansas residents attend a regents school, Washburn University or private college.

For the current fiscal year, approximately $15.7 million is available.

Approximately 10,000 students receive comprehensive grant awards. The average grant is $1,500 and doesn't have to be repaid.

Higher education officials have spoken of the need for an increase in the grant program, especially in light of recent double-digit increases in tuition.

A $3 million increase would allow 2,000 more students to receive grants, officials said.

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