K-State reworks scholarships to battle decreased enrollment

Anderson Hall pokes through the drab grey sky and freshly fallen snow Feb. 21, 2013, after a major snowstorm dumped 11 inches of snow on Manhattan. K-State students experienced the university's first snow day in a few years. (Parker Robb | The Collegian)

To combat enrollment declines, Kansas State made new strategies of recruiting transfer and international students.

Emily Lehning, interim vice provost of enrollment management, said the university has “completely reworked” scholarships for incoming freshman, transfer and international students.

“They would be able to qualify for scholarships that have a different look than what other students have been able to see, and we hope that by doing that we’ve actually opened up scholarship possibilities for more students,” Lehning said “That’s what all of the data and the study had indicated as part of our work. That would be one of the first big initiatives that I think really impacts students directly.”

Scholarships are now run through a system that filters and matches students to prospective scholarships. K-State also lowered the renewal GPA from 3.5 to 3.0, and evened out renewal amounts so students receive an equal amount of scholarship money across their years at college rather than a large sum their freshman year and smaller amounts later on.

Lehning said K-State joined Common App, a website designed to allow incoming students to apply to multiple institutions at once. This helps to keep the cost of college application fees at bay and amplifies K-State’s exposure to new applicants.

Administration also took an inventory of holds placed on student accounts, whether they are financial or due to a pending survey response.

“The first big initiative was to just do an inventory of all the holds, and then to look at what could possibly be reduced, and how could we better inform students and come up with a way that we’re not keeping students from being able to progress just because there’s a small administrative piece that might be in the way,” Lehning said.

The university will also introduce Admitted Student Days where admitted students will receive tailored communication; they are also introducing “Discover K-State Days” for any admitted high school student, regardless of standing so they learn about K-State.

“We’ve got a great thing going on here,” Lehning said. “If you look at our Princeton Review rankings, we had so many top five, top ten and top twenty rankings for everything from ‘Happiest Students’ to ‘Best From’ Colleges, ‘Town Relations,’ over and over. Our students and that survey reports how much they love this place. And I think we just need more students to hear that story.”

These strategies are based on data collected over a two-year process looking at current practices and peer institutions by an outside consultant. Students enrolling for the first time in fall 2020 will see the full effect of these changes. A separate task force will handle graduate and Global Campus enrollment.