Tuition Incentive Program undergoes changes effective summer 2016

Andrew Henderson

After roughly a decade, the Tuition Incentive Program has made changes; these will go into effect the summer of 2016.

TIP allows students from certain counties outside Kentucky to attend for a nearly 50-percent reduction off the nonresident rate, according to Jace Lux, the director of recruitment and admissions.

According to the tuition and fees schedule for the fall 2015 and spring 2016 semesters, the cost of attendance for a full-time, nonresident undergraduate  student is $12,390. In contrast, for a full-time undergraduate student whose county qualifies for TIP, the cost is $6,294.

Lux said it had been about a decade since anyone had looked at the effectiveness of the TIP, and after looking at current data that reflected where students were coming from, a change seemed to be in order.

“We had some counties in the TIP program that we don’t have any current students [from],” Lux said. “We didn’t have any students admitted [from those counties] over the last five years, so it didn’t really make sense to continue those counties on when obviously there was not a huge draw to WKU from those counties.”

Lux said looking at many sources of data to determine where there was a large draw of interest in WKU was vital to making changes in the program. He said analyzing web traffic — people’s search patterns for information about admission to WKU — helped program administrators see where interest in certain areas was coming from.

He also said examining enrollment trends from the past five years affected changes made to the program.

Lux said TIP has done away with about a dozen counties, and he estimated about 30 were added.

“We’ve definitely expanded it,” he said.

Lux said no students from the deleted counties are currently enrolled at WKU, so the changes will not disadvantage anyone.

Current students from a county newly added to TIP will receive the TIP rate if they enroll from summer 2016 onward.

“It’s really a way to benefit — not just enhance — recruitment efforts, but it’s really a benefit for current students as well that fall into a new TIP county,” Lux said.

Lux said the expansion of TIP responded to the increasing need for colleges and universities in and outside Kentucky to look at more out-of-state enrollment.

In Kentucky, Lux said, there are fewer students currently enrolled in high school than there were five years ago even though the state’s graduation rates are rising.

“When there are fewer of them, you have to look beyond just in-state enrollment, so that was another driving force behind expanding the Tuition Incentive Program,” Lux said.

Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco counties in California were among the new counties added to TIP.

While California may seem like a long way to come to WKU, Lux said the dynamics of higher education institutions in the state of California make WKU a viable option.

Lux said that for California residents, the cost of in-state tuition at several California institutions exceeds what many students would pay for out-of-state tuition. These tuition increases have caused Californian students to start looking at options outside the state.

“When you compare the Tuition Incentive Program rate to what they would have to pay to attend an in-state school in California, then WKU all of a sudden becomes a very attractive option,” he said.

Brian Meredith, chief enrollment and graduation officer, said as WKU recruits students from across the region and across the country, competition is steep, and cost is an important factor in a student’s decision.

“The move to evaluate the Tuition Incentive Program was to make sure we are recruiting students from across the country and understanding that cost is an issue,” Meredith said.

He also said the changes made to TIP were to help geographically diversify WKU’s student body.

“We want in-state students, out-of-state students, out-of-region students, international students; we want the whole gamut that defines our enrollment profile,” Meredith said.