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Eastern Kentucky University is welcoming increasing numbers of the best and brightest students, thanks to a revamped model for merit-based scholarships that gives equal weight to ACT and SAT scores and high school GPA.

The University has committed an additional $1.7 million to its scholarship budget for the Fall 2015 class, and that translates to 100-150 additional merit scholarships.

“We are investing more in our students,” said Dr. Brett Morris, interim executive director for enrollment management. “We want to reward academic excellence and help good, hard-working students come to EKU.”

Last year, Eastern added to the Rodney Gross Scholarship Fund to provide more opportunities for minority students as well.

Students and families are already taking notice – not only of the additional scholarship opportunities but also of new residence halls and academic facilities, such as a state-of-the-art science building, and other campus improvements.

“We’re seeing a lot more excitement about EKU,” Morris said. “Applications are up almost 10 percent over this same time last year, and almost 30 percent higher than this same time two years ago. Admitted students are up 18 percent over the same time last year and almost 34 percent over two years ago.

“When it comes down to students’ final decision, once we send financial aid packages out in the Spring, families will feel even better about EKU than they have in the past.”

Under the University’s former merit scholarship model, no funds were available for high school students with an unweighted GPA below 3.5. Under the new model, most new freshmen with an unweighted GPA of at least 3.0 and a composite ACT of 23 or higher will qualify for some level of scholarship. To make it easier for prospective freshmen to see how much assistance they may qualify to receive, the University developed a simple-to-use online scholarship estimator. Students can simply visit and plug in their GPA, test scores and state of residence.

Freshman merit scholarships are automatically awarded to qualifying students who apply for and are admitted to EKU for Fall 2015 by the Feb. 1, 2015 priority deadline. Students then have until May 1 to accept a scholarship and register for orientation.

EKU offers four merit-based scholarships:

  • Excellence Award, $52,000 for four years.
  • Founders Award, $40,000 for four years.
  • Regents, $24,000 for four years.
  • Presidential, $14,000 for four years.

All the scholarships require students to maintain a quality GPA and remain enrolled at a full-time rate.

“The true value of the four-year residential experience is often overlooked in the current discussion about a college education,” Morris said. “We understand the stress families are under financially, and we want to make it easier for students to live on campus and get the full experience.”

In August, EKU also launched a joint admission program to help students who start at local community colleges with the intent to transfer to EKU. Dubbed the Colonel Connection, the program is designed to help students track their academic progress at both institutions simultaneously. Eastern also offers transfer scholarships based upon a student’s cumulative college-level performance.