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Eastern Kentucky University is delivering on its promise as a school of opportunity, with a record number of its students utilizing EKU Foundation scholarships to pursue their educational dreams.

This past fiscal year, at a time when many students and families have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the University awarded 1,797 Foundation scholarships valued at a total of $1,303,360, both eclipsing previous records set the previous year.

Betina Gardner, vice president for university development and alumni engagement and executive director of the EKU Foundation, attributed the achievement to “enrollment growth, an easier application process, a collaborative effort from our partners from all over campus to deliver on our promise as a school of opportunity, and the performance of the endowment and the dedicated staff who oversee the awarding of the scholarships. Foundation scholarships are unique, and there is much care and attention that goes into matching deserving students with a donor’s intent.”

One of those deserving recipients is Britany Bowens, a first-generation, non-traditional student who has benefited from the Dan Mason Scholarship. A member of the EKU Hall of Distinguished Alumni, Mason served as president and chief executive officer of CBS Radio before retiring in 2015.

“The funds I have received allow me to take full advantage of every opportunity I am given as a student without having to worry about finances,” said Bowens, a senior electronic media major from Charlotte, North Carolina. “I even had the pleasure of studying abroad in Italy and had a life-changing experience that allowed me to gain a different perspective on the world.”

Bowens, who has received three additional scholarships while at Eastern, aspires to become a creative director and documentary filmmaker. She said Mason’s generosity “has inspired me to give back and pay it forward to future students like myself … and continue to represent what it truly means to be attending the school of opportunity.”

Carol Ford, manager of Foundation endowments, said the pandemic has made such private support more important than ever.

“Many times, our Foundation scholarships are the deciding factor in a student being able to attend EKU,” Ford said. “Also, our scholarships fill gaps for currently enrolled students, allowing them to continue without the burden of financial worry. Unfortunately, COVID has taken away part-time jobs they have always depended on in the past while attending EKU. Our mission to provide students with a life-changing opportunity has not changed, but the need is even bigger with the pandemic.”

Through the generosity of its donors, the EKU Foundation offers a variety of scholarship opportunities to deserving students. EKU Foundation scholarships are awarded through the University Scholarship Office and at college and department levels. New and renewable awards of EKU Foundation scholarships are subject to available funds each year.

Prospective and current students may also check college and departmental web sites for additional scholarship information. Some college-specific and department-level Foundation scholarships may have other application and/or additional procedures.

Many EKU Foundation scholarships are based on academic credentials such as major, grade point average, grade classification or ACT scores, or other criteria such as high school, county or state. Some scholarships are need-based and require data from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

For more information about EKU Foundation scholarships, including links to applications, visit

For more information about supporting student scholarships at EKU, visit