February 24, 2024
western kentucky university merit scholarships


Western Kentucky University (WKU) is a public university located in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Founded in 1906, WKU has grown into a vibrant university with over 20,000 students across 4 campuses.

WKU offers a variety of merit-based scholarships to recognize and support high-achieving students. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of WKU’s merit scholarship program, including the different scholarship types, eligibility criteria, award amounts, application process, selection methodology, and renewal requirements. Whether you are a prospective student considering WKU or a current student looking to fund your education, this guide will help you understand the competitive WKU merit scholarships.

Types of WKU Merit Scholarships

Western Kentucky University offers three main merit-based scholarships for incoming first-year students:

  • Presidential Scholarship – This is WKU’s most prestigious academic scholarship offered to first-year students. It covers the full cost of tuition, room and board, and books for up to 8 semesters. Recipients must have a minimum 3.95 high school GPA and 32 ACT/1420 SAT to qualify. This highly selective scholarship is awarded to approximately 50 students per year.
  • Award of Excellence Scholarship – This scholarship covers full in-state tuition and is awarded to outstanding students based on academic credentials. To be eligible, students typically must have at least a 3.8 high school GPA and 30 ACT/1360 SAT. This scholarship is renewable for up to 8 semesters as long as academic requirements are met.
  • Regents Scholarship – The Regents Scholarship covers half of in-state tuition costs. Eligibility requirements include having at least a 3.6 high school GPA and 28 ACT/1260 SAT. This renewable scholarship is awarded to around 300 incoming freshmen annually.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for WKU’s merit-based scholarships, students must meet certain criteria related to academic performance, test scores, leadership, and extracurricular activities. The main factors considered include:

  • GPA – Most WKU merit scholarships require a minimum high school GPA, usually around 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale. Some prestigious full-tuition scholarships like the Award of Excellence may require a minimum 3.8 GPA.
  • Test Scores – Competitive scores on the ACT or SAT are needed for merit scholarships. Required scores vary based on the scholarship, but range from 25-32 on the ACT or 1200-1450 on the SAT. The higher the test scores, the more scholarship funding students are eligible for.
  • Class Rank – Being in the top percentages of the graduating high school class helps demonstrate strong academic performance for scholarships. Some require top 10%, 5% or 2% class rank.
  • Leadership & Extracurriculars – Beyond academics, WKU also looks for leadership, community service, arts, athletics, and other extracurricular activities when awarding merit aid. Strong involvement boosts scholarship potential.
  • Letters of Recommendation – Most merit scholarship applications require 1-2 letters of recommendation from teachers, counselors, coaches, or mentors who can speak to the student’s achievements and character.
  • Application Materials – Submitting well-written essays, résumés highlighting accomplishments, and academic transcripts on time is key to the eligibility process.

Meeting the eligibility criteria does not guarantee a scholarship, but gives students the best chance to be competitive applicants for WKU’s merit-based financial aid. The university takes a holistic approach in reviewing applications.

Scholarship Amounts

Western Kentucky University offers a variety of merit-based scholarships to recognize and support high-achieving students. The awards range from $500 per year up to covering the full cost of tuition, room and board, and additional stipends.

The top scholarships offered by WKU include:

  • Presidential Scholarship: Full tuition, fees, room and board, and an $800 book stipend per year. This scholarship is WKU’s most prestigious academic award.
  • Award of Excellence Scholarship: Full tuition and fees per year. This covers the base in-state tuition rate.
  • Intellectual Property Scholarship: Full tuition per year. Awarded to incoming freshmen who have excelled academically and wish to pursue intellectual property studies.
  • Regents Scholarship: $2,500 per year. Awarded to incoming freshmen based on GPA, ACT/SAT scores, and high school class rank.
  • Ignite Excellence Scholarship: $1,500 per year. Recognizes incoming freshmen for academic achievements. Can be stacked with other WKU scholarships.
  • In-State Tuition Grant: Covers the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition for qualifying non-residents. Amount varies based on program of study.
  • Out-of-State Award: $4,000 per year. Granted to non-resident freshmen and transfer students to help offset the cost of non-resident tuition.

WKU also offers a number of departmental and college-specific merit scholarships ranging from $500 to $2,000 annually for qualifying students.

The monetary amounts for WKU’s merit scholarships help make the university affordable and accessible for high-achieving students, regardless of financial circumstances. The awards recognize academic talents and motivate students to continue excelling.

How to Apply

Applying for WKU merit scholarships is a straightforward process. Here are the key steps:

  • Complete the WKU admission application by the priority deadline of December 1. This serves as your merit scholarship application as well. No separate application is required.
  • Submit all required documents such as high school transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendation if applicable.
  • Fill out the FAFSA form by the March 1 priority deadline to be considered for need-based aid.
  • Once you are admitted to WKU, your application is automatically reviewed for merit scholarships based on academic achievements. Decisions are usually released by mid-March.
  • Recipients are notified by mail with a scholarship award letter specifying the name, terms and amount.
  • Accept the scholarship by submitting intent and enrollment forms before the May 1 deadline. Inform WKU of any other scholarships received.
  • Continue meeting renewal criteria every year to keep receiving the scholarship.

The key dates to remember are the admission application deadline of December 1, FAFSA deadline of March 1, and scholarship acceptance deadline of May 1. Submit all materials correctly and on time for full consideration. Contact the Office of Admissions with any questions about the merit scholarship process.

Selection Process

The selection process for WKU merit scholarships is competitive and aims to identify and recognize outstanding students. Scholarship applicants are evaluated based on criteria that may include:

  • Academic achievements and GPA – Students with strong grades and coursework are given preference. Specific GPA requirements may apply for certain scholarships.
  • Test scores – Standardized test scores like ACT and SAT are often considered as part of the selection process. Meeting minimum scores helps demonstrate academic readiness.
  • Letters of recommendation – Strong endorsement from teachers, counselors, community leaders, or employers can set applicants apart. Recommenders may highlight special talents, character, or potential.
  • Essays – Scholarship essays allow applicants to showcase skills, goals, and uniqueness. Compelling essays reflect individuality and help the selection committee get to know applicants.
  • Interviews – For some larger scholarships, finalists may be invited to interview. Interviews evaluate communication skills, interests, and fit for the institution.
  • Extracurricular activities – Stellar leadership experiences, community service, arts, athletics, and other endeavors may be evaluated. Well-rounded participation shows engagement.
  • Financial need – Need-based factors like family income may play a role in certain scholarship decisions to help expand access and opportunity.

The selection process is handled by a committee of WKU faculty, staff, alumni, and community members. The most qualified candidates are chosen based on collective expertise about what makes a student deserving and likely to succeed. Selection ensures recipients will productively contribute to campus life.

Renewal Criteria

Western Kentucky University offers generous merit scholarship programs for incoming freshman students. However, to continue receiving these scholarships for all four years, students must meet certain renewal criteria each year.

The main renewal requirement is maintaining a minimum GPA each academic year. For the Award of Excellence, Regents, and Chester Merit Scholarships, students must earn at least a 3.30 GPA by the end of spring semester each year. For the Cherry Presidential Scholarship, students must maintain a 3.80 GPA annually.

Along with the GPA requirement, scholarship recipients cannot be subject to any disciplinary action throughout their time at WKU. They must uphold the university’s code of conduct and remain in good academic standing to renew their scholarships.

Lastly, students must be enrolled full-time, completing at least 12 credit hours per semester. Any student who drops below full-time status or takes a leave of absence will forfeit their scholarship eligibility.

Meeting these requirements demonstrates a student’s commitment to academic excellence and their ability to thrive at WKU. By renewing their merit scholarships each year, students can continue receiving generous financial support as they work towards completing their degrees.

Additional Perks for WKU Merit Scholarship Recipients

In addition to the monetary awards, recipients of WKU’s merit-based scholarships receive several other notable benefits:

  • Priority Housing: Recipients are given priority when selecting dorms and apartments on campus. This allows scholarship winners to secure the most desired and competitive on-campus housing options before regular students.
  • Study Abroad Stipends: Merit scholarship recipients can apply for stipends to help cover the costs of studying abroad through WKU-sponsored programs. These stipends range from $500-$2,000 depending on the program length and destination.
  • First Registration Window: Winners get to register for classes earlier than other students, ensuring they get the courses and professors they want each semester. This perk is especially helpful for signing up for high-demand classes that fill up quickly.
  • Academic Advising: Dedicated academic advisors provide guidance on course selection, internships, career planning and more. Advisors help maximize the scholarship recipient’s academic and professional opportunities.
  • Leadership Programs: Recipients are encouraged to participate in leadership development programs, conferences and workshops sponsored by WKU. These exclusive opportunities help recipients grow as campus leaders.
  • Alumni Networking: Scholarship winners get access to networking events with successful alumni across various industries. Making these career connections early on can be invaluable.

The additional benefits beyond monetary awards give WKU merit scholarship recipients a meaningful advantage and enhanced academic experience during their time on campus. These perks help inspire scholarship recipients to make the most of their education.

Notable Recipients

The Western Kentucky University merit scholarship program has supported many exceptional students over the years who have gone on to achieve great success in their careers. Here are some standout alumni who received WKU merit scholarships as undergraduates:

  • Sara Hagee (Class of 2005) – Awarded the Presidential Scholarship, Sara graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Public Relations. She is now a vice president at a leading PR firm and a regular guest lecturer at WKU.
  • Dr. Tyler Howard (Class of 1999)- Tyler received the Award of Excellence scholarship and was valedictorian of his graduating class. He completed medical school at the University of Louisville and is now the chief of surgery at a major hospital.
  • Molly Jensen (Class of 2010) – Molly was awarded the Regents Scholarship and was an honors student at WKU. After graduation, she founded a successful tech startup that was acquired in 2021 for $45 million.
  • Joshua Park (Class of 2015) – Joshua was a National Merit Scholar at WKU. He used the scholarship to complete a physics degree and PhD at Stanford, and is now a professor at WKU where he runs a pioneering physics research lab.
  • Amanda Thompson (Class of 2012) – Amanda received the Cherry Presidential Scholarship and graduated magna cum laude with a business degree. She is now a senior executive at a Fortune 500 company.
  • Dr. Sam Washington (Class of 2001) – A Distinguished Minority scholarship recipient, Sam earned his medical degree from Johns Hopkins. He is now a pediatric surgeon and a world-renowned researcher of childhood diseases.

The merit scholarship program has supported these impressive students and many others in achieving their full potential. These standout alumni exemplify the caliber of WKU students who have benefitted from these prestigious and valuable scholarships over the years.

Contact Info

For further questions about WKU merit scholarships, contact the WKU Office of Admissions directly:

  • Phone: (270) 745-2551
  • Email: admissions@wku.edu
  • Office Location:
    WKU Admissions Office
    1906 College Heights Blvd
    Potter Hall Room 219
    Bowling Green, KY 42101

To speak with a WKU admissions counselor or academic advisor about scholarship eligibility, requirements, and your application, please call or visit during office hours Monday-Friday 8am-4:30pm CT. Counselors can provide personalized guidance on putting together a strong scholarship application based on your academic and extracurricular profile.

The WKU Student Financial Assistance Office can also answer questions regarding scholarship award amounts, renewal criteria, and other financial aid options. Reach them at (270) 745-2755 or finaid@wku.edu.

Connecting with the admissions and financial aid offices early when preparing your scholarship application can help ensure you submit a competitive and complete application by the deadline. Their expertise and counsel can prove invaluable throughout the process.

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