More Than 50 Kansas Colleges, Universities Take Part in Free Application Initiative

The free three-day initiative will potentially increase the state’s rate of college attendance.

This is a photo of Green Hall at Kansas University.
Dozens of public and private colleges and universities in Kansas offer a three-day window to submit free applications for undergraduate programs in a bid to boost enrollment by temporarily removing a barrier to entry. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

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TOPEKA — More than 50 colleges and universities in Kansas agreed to drop application fees Tuesday through Thursday for residents of the state regardless of age or income interested in seeking undergraduate degrees or certificates.

The opportunity to submit applications for free was extended by the six state universities supervised by the Kansas Board of Regents, Washburn University in Topeka, 19 community colleges, six technical colleges and 21 private independent colleges.

Jon Rolph, chairman of the Board of Regents, said the objective of the first statewide free college application period Nov. 7-9 was to temporarily discard an impediment to higher education and potentially increase the state’s rate of college attendance.

“The Apply Free Days initiative is part of the board’s effort to remove barriers to application and entry for Kansans, making our higher education system more affordable and accessible for all,” he said. “Kansas colleges and universities offer a wide range of program options that help students meet their career goals.”

In the past decade, Kansas’ college-going rate has declined. In 2021, 59.5% of Kansas high school graduates enrolled in a college, university or certificate program. The disinterest also was revealed when less than half of the state’s high school graduates submitted college financial aid applications.

Waiver of the application fee was extended to first-time freshmen, transfer students, returning students and those seeking a second bachelor’s degree. The initiative covered general applications, certificate programs, associate degree programs and bachelor degree programs. It doesn’t include applications for graduate school programs.

The Board of Regents said Apply Free Days information could be found at kansasregents.org/applyfree. Students uncertain about what college option was best for them could use KSDegreeStats.org to explore the cost of degrees and potential earnings of graduates.

Prospective students may start and save an online application any time, but the fee would be waived only if the application was submitted during the three-day window.

However, Kansas colleges and universities have application fee waiver programs available throughout the year to assist individuals enduring financial hardships. It is free to apply year round to the 19 community colleges. Pittsburg State University and Washburn University removed application fees.

Private colleges in Kansas not part of the Kansas Independent College Association may not be participants in the Apply Free Days network.

The state Board of Regents recommended potential students apply to college and then submit a free application for federal student aid or the FAFSA. The FAFSA would provide information about student grants, scholarships and work-study positions that could reduce the cost of a college education. Another option would be to apply for state aid through the Kansas State Scholarship Program.

Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: info@kansasreflector.com. Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.

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