WKU scholarships to undergo changes to 2013-2014

Taylor Harrison

WKU’s top scholarships may be more inclusive in the coming 2013-2014 academic year.

For the two top scholarships for incoming students — the Presidential Scholarship and the Award of Excellence Scholarship — the current grade point average required coming in is a 3.95 and an ACT score of 31.

But as Gordon Emslie, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs points out, it only lets those students earn one B in high school to qualify.

Emslie said the university is in the process of changing these requirements

“In a nutshell, every student with a 3.8 and up and 31 (on the ACT) will be able to compete for the two top scholarship levels,” Emslie said.

Emslie said the same amount of scholarships will be given out — about 20  for those in the top tier and 100 for those in the second tier.

But the GPA and ACT requirements aren’t the only aspects of these scholarships to be changed. The top-tier scholarships will be called the Cherry Presidential Scholarship and 1906 Founders Scholarship.

Their names would change in the 2013-2014 academic year.

Regents Scholarships, for students who have at least a 3.8 GPA and 28 to 30 ACT, are still available for those students who compete for the two higher level scholarships and do not receive them.

President Gary Ransdell said the scholarship changes would help those kinds of students.

“In addition to the financial benefit, there’s also a self-esteem and tangible reward aspect of the new scholarship distribution policy that penetrates a little deeper into this pool of good students,” Ransdell said.

Ransdell said there are students with high ACT scores, but because of one or two Bs on their GPA, they miss out on scholarship assistance.

“We want to redirect scholarship resources for very good students,” Ransdell said. “Those with ACT scores in the high 20s and a GPA of 3.5 and above typically do just as well as students with higher scores. We are losing those students to other universities for want of modest scholarships.”

Another significant change in the scholarship program is the automatic scholarships for students in the 3.3 to 3.8 levels of high school GPA and with a 26 on the ACT.

“By making that automatic, we hope to get a lot of students who are frankly currently going elsewhere when they could be coming here,” Emslie said.

He said that effectively, WKU is getting paid partial tuition from those students.

“We’d rather have that than zero number of full tuition paying students,” he said.

Kathryn Costello, vice president for Development and Alumni Relations, said  this fall her department is focusing on a scholarship campaign to raise money.

Costello said fundraising is vital to fund student scholarships.

“So, when you talk about fundraising, as students, you don’t often think about the fact that it directly benefits students and, of course, that’s our major purpose, is to help the academic programs of the university,” Costello said.

Costello said the university will also start matching endowed scholarships.

“That is, if people want to provide an endowment, the university will match the earning equivalent of that endowment,” she said. “Once the endowment is funded and that means that we can kind of incentivize people, we hope, to provide a larger gift than they might get and then they’ll get a bigger bang for their buck, so to speak,” Costello said.