The UW board of trustees approved a proposal to create a $20 million endowed scholarship specifically for students from Wyoming.
$10 million would come from the state and be matched by private donors. But nothing is a done deal. The university just put in a request for the money to Governor Matt Mead. The appropriation will require final approval from the Wyoming Legislature during the 2019 session.
President Laurie Nichols said the scholarship is about encouraging Wyoming students to stay in the state. Increasing the number of Wyomingites with advanced degrees was highlighted by ENDOW, the governor’s initiative to diversify Wyoming’s economy, as a top priority.
“If you just looked at bordering states, and looked at when a student graduates from high school what they do, you’d find roughly 70 percent will pursue some kind of a post-secondary educational experience; technical school, community college, university, whatever it may be,” said Nichols. “And Wyoming is closer to 50 or 55 percent.”
For Nichols, that’s a sign UW could do more to recruit students. She said Wyoming is fortunate to have the state-funded Hathaway Scholarship, but it doesn’t cover students' full needs.
“I mean it just doesn’t. Even students who get the Hathaway aren’t having all their full financial need met. And then there are students who don’t get the Hathaway or only get a partial scholarship,” said Nichols. “So while it’s a great program and one that we want to continue to use, I think this is a complimentary program we really need.”
She wants to be able to truly offer the state’s best and brightest a full ride to compete with offers from out of state schools.
She said the scholarship could also help support underserved populations from Wyoming. For example, the Hathaway is exclusively for high school students to use up to four years after graduation. New scholarships could help adult learners go back to school to pursue an advanced degree. She also suggested scholarships could be used to recruit Native American and Hispanic students to UW.
If the legislature approves the request, Nichols hopes private donations will be secured in time to start offering more scholarships by Fall 2020.