April 5, 2021
University progress on increasing need-based financial aid for students
Submitted by Charles Taber and Karen Goos
Dear K-State community,
Achieving significant increases in need-based aid and reducing the levels of unmet financial need for enrolled students are key priorities in both the Strategic Enrollment Management Plan (SEM) plan (2018) and in the Action Plan for a More Inclusive K-State (2020). Both plans recognize that addressing affordability and closing the gap for students with high financial need is imperative to successfully attract students to enroll and support their overall student success through graduation.
The university, the colleges, and the KSU Foundation work in partnership to develop this important component of our financial aid programs and increase the funding available. Over the past several years, the available need-based funding has grown through private philanthropy and reallocation of existing institutional resources. Overall, the institutional need-based aid over the last two years has increased over $1 million, a 90% increase over what was awarded previously.
Most recently, a team has been working diligently to put into action a series of additional need-based aid awards, retention grants, and degree completion strategies. We are pleased to share the following progress in addressing unmet financial need for our students.
- This fall, the university piloted retention grants, or Bridge Grants, with nearly $375,000 awarded to 258 students. The Bridge Grants were in addition to the emergency financial assistance available to students and included academic and financial support resources. The data from the pilot semester is being evaluated by a universitywide working group that will make recommendations for future terms.
- A Completion Grant program is in the final stages of development. Completion Grants support undergraduate and graduate students with significant unmet need who are approaching graduation but may need more funds to finish their degree. The anticipated launch is early summer.
- The university has reallocated an additional $419,000 in our central university scholarship budget for need-based aid for current students. Students who received the Freshman Wildcat Grant as an incoming student may be eligible for sustained need-based funding.
- The Freshman Wildcat Grant for new students has been revamped. The criteria have been expanded and the budget allocation adjusted resulting in a 48% increase in need-based aid awarded to incoming freshmen.
- The number of need-based housing scholarships has been expanded for students living in the residence halls for fall 2021. These awards are part of a pilot initiative focused on housing to address affordability and overall cost of attendance.
While we have several strategies to proactively search for students with unmet need, we know that there are students who encounter emergencies that change their financial situation. Students, faculty, and staff are able to refer students to emergency assistance through the resource page launched at the beginning of the pandemic response.
Additional work still needs to be done in this area and will be ongoing. We are working to establish clear metrics and performance goals to better report our overall progress increasing available need-based aid across the institution and the colleges. For today, we can all pause to celebrate the progress being made in providing additional assistance for students with unmet financial need. We are all committed — university and college leadership and our Foundation partners — to advancing the work of making K-State more diverse and inclusive by addressing unmet need as a barrier to student success.
Provost and Executive Vice President
Vice Provost for Enrollment Management