Due to changes in the way the state distributes funds, Allen Community College’s scholarship program is losing traction as an incentive for growth.
Prior to 2008, the state of Kansas released funds to ACC based on the amount of credit-hours per year a college enrolled. The more students that signed up for classes, the more funds the college received from the state, President John Masterson said. When the recession hit across the nation in 2008, the state moved to what Masterson refers to as a “block grant” for funding — a predetermined amount that varies from college to college based on what each college received the year prior.
“The state has put us in a position where growth is not profitable,” Masterson said, specifically referring to the college’s scholarship program. What once brought in more students, meaning more revenue for the college, is now taking up $256,000 per year of ACC’s general fund for students from Allen County. They distributed a total of $1.4 million in scholarships last year.
While he said the college is in “good, stable financial condition,” the amount of state money the college is receiving is not increasing, while costs are. The community college has seen dwindling support from the state every year.
“I want to stay ahead of that,” Masterson said.
In addition to inflation, the contribution from the state will drop 1.5 percent in the next academic year, by $73,102. Masterson said there are “two avenues” of funding for the scholarship program: students and taxpayers. The board recently approved a $4 per credit-hour increase in tuition.
“It hurts my heart to do that,” Masterson said. “But we are still at the low end (of tuition cost) in the state.” The mill levy from Allen County has not increased in recent years. About 13 percent of the college’s students come from within the county, Masterson said, and the county provides about 13 percent of the college’s funding; he sees it as an equal amount of support.
“We are good at what we do,” Masterson said. “But, we’ve got to get to the point where our expenditures and revenues match pretty close at the end of the year.”
Currently, ACC gives out 20 credit-hours worth of scholarships per semester at maximum, including two credit-hours for fitness classes for athletes. Masterson said reducing that amount to 16 hours (with no fitness class included) would result in $30,000 in immediate savings. Also, the elimination of part-time scholarships (scholarships available to those in the work force who would attend school part-time) would save the college another $39,000.
Other scholarships that were mentioned are: Jumpstart scholarships, Scarlet and Black Club funds, Spouse and Dependent grants and the Allen County Grant. The Allen County Grant was set up after Haldex began laying off employees, Masterson said, in an effort to encourage people seeking an education to move to Allen County.
“It has been very successful,” he said.