The WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Scineces is sponsoring a series of scholarship dinners across the state with the expressed goal of making significant progress toward our campaign goal of raising $8 million for endowed and annual scholarships for our students. Fortunately, due to the generosity of our friends and alumni, our college already has a significant scholarship program available to its students. Over the past three years, the college and its departments have awarded over $2 million in scholarships (this is independent of scholarships and other forms of financial assistance at the university level). This level of scholarship support exceeds all other colleges on campus, some of which have much larger undergraduate enrollments.
So, why is important to add to this support for our students? First, our students have seen rapid and profound increases in the cost of their education. Over the past five years, the annual tuition cost for an undergraduate student at WSU has nearly doubled. The coming year, students will pay over $11,600 in tuition. Just a decade ago, the state covered two-thirds of the cost of a student’s education, while the student contributed one-third; today, the ratio has flipped, with students required to cover two-thirds of that cost. While this “user pays” approach may be appealing to “tax watch dogs,” the net effect is a reduction in access to higher education for talented students.
Second, enrollment has increased over 30 percent over the past three years in CAHNRS, creating a situation where additional scholarship dollars are essential to provide the same percentage of students with needed financial support.
Finally, while our total amount of scholarship funding available is impressive, the distribution of scholarship funds across our programs is very uneven. Limited funds are available for our largest programs such as Apparel, Merchandising, Design and Textiles; Interior Design; Economics; and Human Development. We are determined to level the playing field across all programs.
CAHNRS’s “World-Class Leaders for Tomorrow” program is about much more than providing financial assistance to worthy students. The program is about funding a transformational teaching, learning, and leadership initiative that creates opportunities for all students. The recipe for student success is well known: achievement in the classroom + meaningful engagement outside the classroom + fulfilling internship experiences + a sense of community and belonging = the Cougar Experience. Funding is required to achieve each of these elements, and this will allow us to better create that special experience that all of us had that made our years at WSU meaningful, life changing, and fun.
For more information about the “World-Class Leaders for Tomorrow” initiative, visit our website and click the “World Class Students” link to hear from our students in a series of short videos. I guarantee you will not have a dry eye after hearing from those who have benefitted so much from scholarships and the Cougar experience.