Western Kentucky University is doing away with the ACT as a factor in most scholarships for incoming freshmen, and will instead focus on high school grades.
“It means that we’re going to place the emphasis on performance over four years of high school, instead of one day of testing," WKU President Timothy Caboni said in announcing the changes Tuesday.
"And we also are going to reduce the GPA requirement to be eligible for those scholarships from a 3.3 down to a 3.0, and we’re increasing that minimum scholarship by $1,000,” said Caboni.
The major changes are intended to make WKU more attractive to students who work hard in high school, and make higher education more affordable for their families.
Removing the standardized ACT as a requirement for most freshman scholarships provides opportunities for students who don’t do well on tests, or were simply tired or not feeling well on the day of the test.
Caboni said the GPA has been shown to be the best indicator of a student’s success.
“It’s really easy. For students who want a scholarship to WKU, get a 3.0 in high school and you’ve won a scholarship," said Caboni. "That is a remarkable incentive for them to perform in high school, and instead of just a testing day being the most important day in their high school career, it now becomes a focus on all four years.”
The university has also raised the minimum scholarship award from $1,500 to $2,500 under the new guidelines for freshmen, which go into effect for the fall 2020 academic year.
Under the new guidelines for the 2020 academic year, students who have a 3.0 GPA in high school will automatically be eligible for a $2,500 scholarship.
Caboni says WKU is also adding $5.2 million to the scholarship funding effort.
The changes are expected to make 80 percent of incoming freshman eligible for some kind of university scholarship. That’s more than double the percentage of students who received those scholarships for the current academic year.
WKU is also creating additional opportunities for underrepresented minority students through an expanion of the Cornelius A. Martin Scholarship. Under current guidelines for that scholarship, eligible minority students with a 3.0 GPA and a 20 ACT score can be awarded $2,500. Beginning in fall 2020, the Cornelius Martin Scholarship will award $3,000 for eligible minority students with at least a 3.0 GPA, and $2,000 to those with a GPA of 2.5 to 2.9.
Caboni said the changes on scholarship requirements are "transformative" and will encourage more students to enter WKU and graduate in four years. He said that will also help provide an educated workforce for the state.