Submitted by Diane Lindeman
Kansas Board of Regents
Just like many of you, we are finding it hard to believe that we are already well into a new year. We are anxiously waiting to see what we can expect in the area of student financial aid during the 2003 legislative session. We were very pleased that Governor Sebelius has put $750,000 into her budget for the Kansas Comprehensive Grant Program. This is the only program that has been given an increase in the budget at this time and fortunately she has not made any cuts to the others….for now. As you may already be aware we did experience a 3.1% cut in our financial aid programs in November. I was able to have some discretion in where the cuts would be made and fortunately had some leeway in some of the programs that could withstand cuts more than others. We have heard that there may be a possibility that we could expect a 2.5% cut during the 2003 legislative session, so we are bracing ourselves for that. Hopefully it will not occur. The federal LEAP and SLEAP funding was a godsend as it was used to help support the Kansas Comprehensive Grant program this academic year. We are concerned about the possibility of their being a cut to these federal programs; it would greatly devastate our programs if this were to occur. If you hear any rumblings of cuts to the LEAP/SLEAP funding, please let your Congress people know how important the program is to our students in the state of Kansas.
We mailed out our informational materials regarding the Kansas State Scholarship program rosters to the high school counselors the week of January 27. We are encouraging them to post as much of their information electronically as they possibly can this year. We have assumed all of the processing of the state scholar data in our office as of this year. We are hoping to have a smooth operation. With Lina at the helm, I have no doubt that we will. We want to remind you that the deadline date for the Kansas State Scholarship applications has been moved this year from May 15 to May 1. As you hopefully have noted, all of the state programs that require the state application now have a May 1 deadline. We are hoping that having a common deadline for the state programs may prevent some confusion. NOTE HOWEVER THAT THE KANSAS COMPREHENSIVE GRANT DEADLINE REMAINS AS APRIL 1.
Some of you may have had the “pleasure” of experiencing the first year of our administration of the National Guard Educational Assistance Program. In the past, this program was administrated by the Adjutant General’s Office. During the 2002 legislative session, this program was transferred to the Kansas Board of Regents. There were two changes in the program that also came along with the transference of administration. One change was that the students no longer had to pay up-front costs and be reimbursed later. They could have their tuition and fees waived until payment was submitted to the schools from our office. The other change was that students no longer had the requirement of participating in basic training prior to being eligible to receive the scholarship. As a result of this latter change, we had nearly 100 more students apply for the program. We also began the year with nearly $25,000 less than the previous year, and suffered the reduction in the program in November as well. As you all know, when you have more applicants and less money the money doesn’t go nearly as far. Students in the program ended up with having 49% of their tuition and fees covered whereas in previous years it was generally over 90%. Therefore, several students found themselves in the position of having to pay 51% of their tuition and fees late in the fall semester. Your school’s business offices probably bore the brunt of the problems that arose because of this, however some of you probably didn’t escape some angry students as well. We have notified schools that they cannot expect that any more than 49% of tuition and fees will be covered for the spring semester. We knew that we could expect that the operation of a new program might not go as smoothly as we hoped it would. We are confident that we have learned from the issues that arose this year and will be able to have a more streamlined program during the next academic year.
I want to end this article by taking a passage from the last paragraph of Governor Kathleen Sebelius’ Inaugural address: “These are challenging times full of exciting opportunities. When we aim for the stars, it won’t be easy, but then nothing worth doing ever is. With the talent and energy of citizens across this great state, along with public officials who have pledged to serve their communities and provide leadership and vision, we will succeed. God bless us all and God bless the great state of Kansas.”
We have a lot of talent and energy in our KASFAA organization. I know that together we will all get through these difficult times and be a part of building a bright future for the students of the state of Kansas.
We look forward to seeing you all in Topeka in April!