New scholarship approved
In approving a tuition increase at Kansas University, state officials also approved a new scholarship program designed to attract high-ability students from out-of-state.
The Rock Chalk Scholarship will be available to out-of-state freshmen who score a minimum of 28 on the ACT and have a 3.5 high school grade point average.
KU would grant a partial tuition waiver in which the student would pay less than a typical non-Kansas resident but still more than the tuition rate for a Kansas resident, and more than the actual cost of an education.
The student also would have to maintain a minimum of a 3.4 grade point average at KU to remain eligible for the four-year program.
KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said many states are establishing similar programs. “There is increasing competition for students and this will help,” in recruiting out-of-state students, she said.
Topeka — In the world of Kansas higher education funding, something is not connecting.
And the Kansas Board of Regents, which last week approved a $26 million tuition increase at the six public universities, says it hopes to fix that problem.
During a preliminary discussion on the regents’ next budget submission, Chairman Ed McKechnie of Arcadia put a positive spin on how higher education fared in the recently concluded legislative session that started with the state facing a $500 million revenue shortfall. Higher education sustained a smaller cut after two years of large cuts.
“A lot of folks wish they were in the position post-secondary education was in,” McKechnie said.
But Regent Christine Downey-Schmidt of Inman, who served as regent chair when higher education received annual increases in state funding, wasn’t celebrating. “Isn’t it amazing what we have settled for?” she said.
She said higher education feels like Oliver Twist, asking the Legislature for another bowl of gruel and getting refused.
Downey-Schmidt said the regents have lost their partnership with the Legislature in properly funding higher education. Twenty-five years ago, state funding made up 50 percent of state university budgets; now it’s 25 percent, according to regents’ figures.
That shift has put more pressure on students and their families to bear a greater financial burden.
And Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget director Steve Anderson has given the regents a budget projection that shows higher education’s state allotment gaining only slightly over the next five years.
McKechnie and other regents said they need to make it clear to legislators at the outset of the next legislative session that how much the state allocates to higher education has a direct impact on what the Board of Regents does with tuition costs.
“Had the Legislature funded an additional $26 million, would our tuition (increase) today be zero?” McKechnie asked. “That point should be on the table” when the regents make a budget proposal, he said.