Kentucky Shifts from Merit Aid to Need-Based Aid

on February 23, 2017

The University of Kentucky has announced plans to shift the bulk of institutional grant aid from merit scholarships to need-based financial aid.


Currently, 10 percent of institutional grants at the University of Kentucky are based on financial need. This will increase to 65 percent by the year 2021.


The change prioritizes access to education for low-income students and should help them succeed. The University of Kentucky also hopes to increase college completion rates. They found that low-income students are much more likely to drop out if they have $5,000 or more in unmet need.


Underrepresented students also benefit because they tend to be disproportionately low-income.


The University of Kentucky expects the change to decrease the number of National Merit Finalists enrolling at the college. Although this can be a source of prestige, they represent a very small percentage of a college’s total enrollment. Low-income students matter more.


Financial aid for current students will not be affected. Each new incoming cohort of students will receive a higher percentage of need-based grants.

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