WKU to offer free tuition in 2021 to freshmen who meet requirements

Published: Sep. 17, 2020 at 1:59 PM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Western Kentucky University announced a plan Thursday to provide free tuition to students from Kentucky who meet certain requirements starting Fall 2021.

“If you want to come to WKU and you don’t have a rich background, we’re here for you. We want you on our hill if you want to be part of the WKU family,” WKU President Timothy Caboni said.

Beginning in the fall of 2021, graduating seniors that are from Kentucky, receive Pell Grant Assistance, and have at least a 3.0 cumulative, unweighted GPA will be eligible for the free tuition. The university is calling the scholarship the “Hilltopper Guarantee.”

“The bold changes to scholarships we made last year significantly expanded the aid available. This pledge closes the gap for the most financially challenged students and will allow those students access to the life-changing WKU experience,” Dr. Caboni explained.

The amount of the award will be determined by in-state tuition less aid, such as Pell Grants, KEES, and other institutional and gift aid. It does not include student loans, which may be used for students' housing, books, and other expenses.

“It’s going to open up so many different doors for everyone,” WKU Student Body President Will Harris said.

Dr. Timothy Caboni said once the university upped its scholarship fund last year, it attracted a record number of Fall 2020 freshmen. The percentage of freshmen receiving scholarship assistance jumped from 39 percent to 84 percent. He hopes this new opportunity will do the same for next year.

“That is what matters is making that opportunity and putting everyone on an even playing field,” Harris said. “I’m really excited to see this forward progress and this movement being made.”

Western Kentucky University is not the only college in Kentucky to implement the free-tuition opportunity, but it is the largest.

“We think this is an important move not just for us but for the entire state and also South Central Kentucky as we build an educated workforce,” Dr. Caboni said.

There is no limit on how many students can take advantage of the “Hilltopper Guarantee.” The scholarship is renewable for four years if students maintain minimum academic requirements provided by the University.

More information can be found at wku.edu/guarantee.

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