For the first two years that Kansas University’s Jayhawks Generations Scholarship has been up and running, supporters of the program have been concerned that it isn’t generous enough to be competitive with other universities in the region.
Now KU will likely respond by increasing it.
Members of the KU Alumni Association’s board of directors pushed for a scholarship program that would encourage out-of-state students whose parents or grandparents are KU graduates (also known as legacy students) to enroll at KU.
“It all started four years ago,” says Jay Howard, former chair of the Alumni Association board. “The board decided this was something KU really needed. All our competitors — Nebraska, Oklahoma, K-State, Mizzou — have something similar. It was causing us to lose connections with some of our biggest supporters.”
They met with then-provost Richard Lariviere and convinced him of the need for the scholarship.
“He really got behind it,” Howard says. “A year later, it was on the books.”
The Kansas Board of Regents approved the program on a temporary basis for fall 2009, and then made it permanent in fall 2010.
“It came from a lot of blood, sweat and tears,” says Joy Maxwell, an assistant director at the Alumni Association.
In the plan, a qualifying student receives a 12-percent tuition discount from the out-of-state student rate if the student received an ACT score of 26 to 29. Students scoring 30 to 33 receive a 20-percent discount, while those scoring 34 to 36 receive 30 percent.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” Maxwell says. “Our alumni told us it’s a great start, but that we should work toward bigger scholarships. It helps a lot, but we would like to offer more to stay competitive.”
“It’s matched our expectations,” Howard says. “The scholarship is nice but not huge. We’re considerably lower than all of our competitors. So we have a lot of ground to make up.
“We’re the least financially advantageous of all the schools that have programs like this,” he says.
Even so, the program has increased enrollment by out-of-state legacy students.
In fall 2009, 45 freshmen enrolled at KU with help from the scholarship. In 2010, the number increased to 82.
“When we look at the market, and where the market is going, families are increasingly making their college decisions based on price,” says Matt Melvin, associate vice provost. “Last year we had a 17-percent increase (in recipients of the Jayhawk Generations scholarship). This shows the price sensitivity. We’re able to attract a population we weren’t able to attract before.”
Melvin also notes that the program has a strong retention rate: 98 percent of the freshman who have received the scholarship returned for their sophomore year.
“They’re not only attracted here,” he says. “They’re more likely to stay.”
Moreover, the average ACT score for the scholarship recipients is 28.7 as compared to 24.9 for entering freshman class.
“It’s a win-win for everybody,” he says, adding that the university shares alumni concerns and intends to act upon them.
“We will probably push the envelope and move” the amount qualifying out-of-state legacy students would pay “to 150 percent” of in-state tuition, he says. “We hope to launch a new aggressive scholarship program in the next couple of weeks.”