MURRAY — While highlighting the work of the campus’ Office of Student Financial Services several days ago, Murray State University President Dr. Bob Jackson unveiled a particularly shiny nugget.

During the first meeting of the university’s Board of Regents for the 2020-21 calendar year, Jackson said that new findings show that Murray State is the best public institution for higher learning in Kentucky when it comes to its students having no outstanding debt when they graduate. Jackson said 48% of the students leave Murray State debt free.

“It is in the process of being marketed,” Jackson said of how this fact will become part of the university’s campaign to attract students. “Yes, we have some ads being produced that will include that metric.”

The figures are supplied by the Kentucky Council for Higher Education.

Jackson said that the last-place campus was at 27%.

“It’s a difference maker,” said Murray State Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Don Robertson.

Throughout the presentation of Bursar Wendy Cain, who heads the 24-person team in Student Financial Affairs, Regents offered praise for the efforts the team makes in trying to not only assist students with plans for paying for their education, but how to keep them there in the event of financial hardships while they are at Murray State.

Regent Virginia Gray of Hopkinsville said the office’s efficiency cannot be measured.

“I know several families who have been assisted and the ease of of having their questions answered and the pleasant customer service they have received says a lot for you all,” Gray said as she spoke directly to Cain during the meeting that was conducted through virtual communications. “It translates into a great recruiting tool for our university.”

“Things like that go a long way in respect to our enrollment and our reputation,” said Regents Chairman Jerry Rhoads of Madisonville.

Jackson also credited university alumni and friends for their efforts in the mission to make an education affordable. He pointed to last year’s Racers Give campaign that produced more than $200,000 in financial gifts, all to go toward need-based scholarships for students struggling with their ability to pay for their education.

Cain also talked about the Racer Promise, which is also intended to provide a boost for students in need. She said, so far this year, 78 students have been assisted, constituting an increase of $85,000 in funds that have been used.

“I keep your contact number on my computer screen,” said Regent Lisa Rudolph of Murray, who is the chair of the Regents’ Enrollment Management and Student Success Committee. “That’s because I get so many questions from parents about who they need to contact.”

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