WU forced to cut Rooks County scholarship

Lauren Eckert

Students from Rooks County are bracing themselves for a decrease in scholarship funds for the 2009-’10 school year because funds for the Hindman scholarship are on the decline.

The Hindman Scholarship is granted to high school graduates from Rooks County who are seeking an education at Washburn University. Tom Ellis, dean of enrollment management, said the scholarship was established by Duffie Hindman, a Washburn School of Law alumnus (1924), who upon his death willed stocks, bonds, real estate, oil and gas properties valued at over $3 million to Washburn University for the purpose of setting up a scholarship program. In his will, Hindman required that the gift be invested in U.S. Treasury bonds and the income from this investment would go to the scholarship recipients.

Ellis said since the creation of the scholarship, hundreds of Rooks County students have benefited from this gift. For several years, the earnings from the investment provided scholarships that were approximately equal to the tuition of 12 credit hours each semester. However, as tuition has increased and the economy has fluctuated, the earnings of the investment alone can no longer support 24 credit hours of tuition for all the scholarship recipients.

“Since the donor required how the money was to be invested in U.S. Treasury bonds only, we cannot invest the gift into the market like to let it grow, which is how other Washburn scholarships generate income,” said Ellis.

Interest rates have dropped considerably, bringing in a mere 3.5 percent interest rate compared to the 7-9 percent earned at the time of the donation, or even at the 5-7 percent earned just 10 years ago, resulting in less earnings. This decrease in funding has instigated a decrease in the amount of scholarship money distributed.

“You can’t spend more than you have,” said Ellis, regarding the recent decision to reduce the amount of scholarship money given to each student. “This is still a hugely generous gift on the part of Hindman.”

Matthew Hageman and Jason Dinkel were two of the 54 students at Washburn to receive a Hindman scholarship this year. Both students said the scholarship weighed heavily on their decision to attend Washburn because they got 12 credit hours of tuition paid for.

However, because of the size of the scholarship, neither recipient was eligible for other stackable scholarships. This scholarship decrease will allow recipients to apply for additional Washburn scholarships.

“I don’t really see the possibility of receiving other stackable scholarships now,” said Hageman. “It’s a little disappointing to have to rely more on my student loans and personal funds to pay for college.”

Jason Dinkel is also disappointed in the scholarship reduction, but feels slightly more optimistic about the change.

“Now that the scholarship has been reduced, I will have to apply for other scholarships, but I really like it here at Washburn, so that alone will not make me want to transfer or anything,” said Dinkel. “I’m not happy it has been reduced, but at least it hasn’t been depleted altogether.”

Despite the decrease in the size of the Hindman Scholarship, Washburn is working with Rooks County citizens to make sure the public is aware of the situation and reasoning behind the changes. Washburn officials held public forums at both Plainville High School and Washburn University so parents and students could ask questions about the changes, which were very helpful, said Hageman.

“The Hindman Scholarship will continue to provide the opportunity for many students from Rooks County to attend and graduate from Washburn University,” said Dean Ellis.