By JAMES BELL
A new state program could bring in $2.4 million for Fort Hays State University students.
The Kansas Comprehensive Grant has been a long-term, needs-based financial gift to FHSU students. But a recently announced match could allow the program to benefit an even greater number of students.
The grant is a state-funded award given to students through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid process and awarded based on a number of criteria but given to those most in need of a helping hand to achieve the goal of a Bachelor's Degree.
“This program has been introduced recently to our alumni community through different mailing pieces,” said Carolyn Tatro, FHSU alumni engagement strategist. “People might have seen it hit their mailboxes, and it was mentioned in the latest edition of the Roar magazine.”
“The Kansas Comprehensive Grant is a program that's been around since I started in financial aid in 2010,” said Chantelle Arnold, director of financial assistance. “It was funded by the Legislature, and recently, they have added to the program with this new match component.
“It is a dollar-for-dollar match and could potentially give us $5 million to award to students.”
According to the FHSU website, to be eligible for the grant, students must be a full-time Kansas degree-seeking undergraduate resident who demonstrates a certain need based on the Expected Family Contribution from FAFSA.
“The way that the legislature set this up is great because now we have a little skin in the game,” said Dennis King, FHSU associate vice president of student affairs. “When you think about it, whenever you can double your money by making a donation and help students, it’s a wonderful thing.”
He said the support from alumni has an impact on current students that extends to the entire university and the community.
“That obviously impacts enrollment, that enrollment impacts the quality of education in a classroom and the community itself,” King said. “It helps graduation rates. It helps people find jobs and network afterward. So, this is a win-win from beginning to end.”
The program, he said, also helps support FHSU’s overall strategy of increasing enrollment as a way to keep tuition lower than other regional institutions, including offering in-state tuition rates to students in states across the Midwest.
“We just did a big initiative last year to reach out to the surrounding 13 states as well,” King said. “And so, this is great timing as far as just a complement to that program.”
To get the full benefit of the match program, the university needs to raise the full amount possible in donations.
“That's the challenge for all of us out there, as far as stepping up to make sure that we can match that,” King said.
“If we can raise $2.4 million, we can get $2.4 million, and we get $5 million to give back to students, which is a huge chunk,” Arnold said. “It's also going to our most needy students, so they should be also getting some federal funds.
“It would be our hope that we could spread these funds around to get to the most amount of students and hopefully get at least their tuition paid and possibly part of their housing paid so that they can come and not have such a burden to get to Fort Hays and finish their education.”
And unlike many financial assistance programs, this grant is available to more than just incoming first-year students.
“Unfortunately, a lot of our continuing students don't have a lot of opportunities for grants,” Arnold said. “And so this is a grant that you can get as a junior or a senior if you share the need, and you get your paperwork done, and we have the funding available, then you stand a really good chance of being awarded this grant.”
To donate to the match programs, visit foundation.fhsu.edu/donate and designate the gift to the “Kansas Comprehensive Grant Match Fund.”
A check can also be mailed to the foundation at P.O. Box 1060, Hays, KS 67601.