Elevating our region, our state and our nation by providing access and opportunity to higher education remains core to WKU’s mission. Today, we announce a major step forward in advancing college access and affordability for Kentucky students.
Across our state, each year many graduating high school seniors are forced to forego their dreams of a college degree simply because of their family’s financial circumstances. Even when combining Pell Grants, SEOG, KEES and other institutional and gift aid with the maximum student loans available, an affordability gap still prevents them from continuing their education.
WKU continues to refine its scholarship offerings and remains committed to making higher education a viable path for all students across the state who desire a college degree, regardless of their economic conditions. I would like to share with you some details of the new Hilltopper Guarantee: WKU’s Commitment to the Commonwealth, a bold move that closes this gap for the most financially-challenged students. Effective fall 2021:
The Hilltopper Guarantee builds upon the aggressive changes announced to our freshman scholarship program last September, which made nearly 84% of WKU’s fall 2020 first-year students eligible for scholarship aid, compared to 39% the previous year. Under the new freshman scholarship program, WKU now bases most of its merit and targeted academic scholarships on high school GPA, removing the ACT component, because retention analyses show that GPA provides the best indicator of a student’s likelihood to succeed in college.
Last year’s scholarship changes played a significant role in recruiting our historic fall 2020 freshman class, which brought with it the largest one-year increase than at any time during the past three decades, the highest high school GPA, and the largest number of URM students in WKU’s history. Now, with financial barriers removed by the Hilltopper Guarantee, even more high school graduates will be able to consider WKU as an option, which was unreachable before.
Thank you to all those who continue working to increase access and opportunity by developing innovative solutions, carefully designing and implementing new scholarship programs that make our university affordable to all, demonstrating your commitment to Kentucky and growing a more well educated workforce. I appreciate your remarkable efforts to support WKU’s 10-year strategic plan, Climbing to Greater Heights, and I’m incredibly proud that our university is the largest KY institution to make a state-wide tuition guarantee. Higher education is transformative, and we believe that every student deserves that opportunity.
Timothy C. Caboni