Governor Sam Brownback has proclaimed September 16 – 22 "Kansas Private College Week." As a proud vice president of one of the 18 private colleges in the Kansas Independent College Association (KICA), I would like to devote this month's column to providing you with some information concerning those colleges of which you may not be aware.
To begin, to be members of the KICA, colleges must be fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and be chartered by the State of Kansas as not-for-profit organizations.
This fall 24,572 students enrolled at KICA colleges, approximately three-fifths of them on a full-time basis. Nearly two-thirds of the full-time students were Kansas residents.
The family economic and ethnic profile of KICA students is nearly identical to that of students enrolled at the Regents institutions. About 28 percent of our students are from minority groups and minority students are more likely to graduate at independent colleges and universities.
The combined enrollments of the KICA colleges would rank them as the third largest higher education institution in the state, behind only the University of Kansas and Kansas State University.
The KICA colleges annually graduate 22 percent of the state's bachelor's degrees and 25 percent of the state's master's degrees.
On average, 71 percent of those who graduate from KICA colleges complete their degrees in four year, compared to only 50 percent of students graduating from the state's public universities.
KICA colleges provide programs that address critical shortages in the state work force. Last year, for example, KICA colleges graduated 424 nurses and other healthcare professionals, 26 percent of the state total, and 435 teachers, 23 percent of the state total.
KICA colleges contribute to the economic vitality of their communities and the state with an estimated combined economic impact of approximately $1.25 billion each year.
KICA colleges last year awarded just over $110 million in student institutional financial aid from the colleges' budgets. On average, each student received $9,000 in institutional aid, which goes on top of any federal and state aid for which students might be qualified.
What this amounts to, when time to graduate is factored into the overall cost of a college education, is that students who graduate from a Kansas private college in four years spend on average $21,450 less than students who take five years to graduate from a public university and more than $76,000 compared to students who take six years to graduate from a public university -- which is becoming the norm.
And finally, looking at results other than cost, KICA students are more likely than their peers at public colleges to engage in higher-level learning activities, as well as to experience greater spiritual development.
If you are interested in learning more about Kansas's private college, go to the KICA website at http://www.kscolleges.org/main.html
Page 2 of 2 - And, of course, you are always welcome to visit the University of Saint Mary.
Bryan Le Beau is the Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Saint Mary