Summer scholarship boosts enrollment

Taylor Harrison

Enrollment saw a boost this summer, thanks in part to the new summer scholarship program.

Alicia Bingham, coordinator for Summer Sessions and Winter Term, said  because of the scholarships, the head count for students was up this year.

“We feel like it helped a lot of students,” Bingham said, “especially undergraduate seniors to be able to afford summer school.”

Gordon Emslie, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said the number of undergraduate seniors that took six or more hours in the summer grew by 40 percent in 2012. Total summer session enrollment went up by about 1 percent, Emslie said.

The summer scholarships offered one free credit hour for undergraduate students who were taking at least six hours and had a 3.0 GPA or higher. This scholarship gave the 1,100 students one hour of tuition.

Somerset junior Lendee Sanchez received one of the scholarships, but said she still had to take out student loans. Sanchez said she took classes on campus rather than online because she wanted to be more hands-on and get back to WKU after studying abroad in the spring.

“It was my first time in summer classes and I loved it,” Sanchez said. “They were very laid back, and the fact that I had one at a time over three months made focusing on the work easier.”

WKU Summer Sessions reported 6,569 students took classes this summer, an increase of 56 additional students signing up this year.

Emslie said more students are signing up for summer sessions and they are taking more courses.

“When we ran the numbers, we found a lot students were here during the summer and were taking one course,” Emslie said. “And we said, ‘Well, why not take two?’”

“So we said, if you take a second course, we’ll give you one hour of credit, essentially as a scholarship.”

The funds for these scholarships came from the Division of Extended Learning and Outreach’s budget. Emslie said the enrollment increase was enough to cover the costs.

Bingham said that while summer sessions can help students graduate faster, obtaining financial aid in the summer is getting harder.

“So, we were just trying to come up with something to help our students with that financial burden because we do know that it’s well worth it,” Bingham said.

Emslie also said that there will be summer scholarships again next year.

“We’re very pleased that it contributed to summer enrollment and student success, and so it’s a good thing,” Emslie said.