When the homestretch gets hard

Last mile fund

The Last Mile Fund helps get students across the finish line when completing their degrees is in jeopardy

You know the feeling when you get bad news — your stomach drops to your toes, your heart races … it’s not a good feeling.

College students work hard for their degrees, and sometimes life throws them a curveball that might upend all their hard work. Car repairs, medical bills or exhausting their scholarship eligibility may create financial hurdles that some just can’t overcome without some assistance.

The Last Mile Fund helps put K-State students at ease when struggling with financial emergencies that might derail their education.

“It was my final year of college, and it was looking like I was going to have to temporarily drop out. I was devastated,” said Stella Mattingly, a pre-law major. “I learned about the Last Mile Fund and suddenly I didn’t have to put my life on hold.”

The fund was started by Kit Wheatley, who felt compelled to address a need she learned about through her sister, Alison Wheatley, the assistant dean for academic and student issues in the College of Arts and Sciences at the time.

“I heard from my sister about trying to help students who were caught in some unexpected emergency. It was maddening, because many times a pretty small amount of money would solve the problem,” Kit said. “I wanted to create a fund where the money could be awarded to students quickly, so all they’d worked for wouldn’t be lost.”

The Last Mile Fund came to the rescue for Sarah Troub, a 2024 graduate in art and English. As an out-of-state student, Sarah had relied on a scholarship to make her tuition affordable. But that award didn’t cover her last year at K-State, forcing her to find other ways to fill that gap.

“The Last Mile Fund brought my tuition down enough that I could afford to pay the rest myself,” Sarah said. “This award was important because it was there when I had exhausted all other resources, and it was extremely quick acting. Without it, I don’t know that I would have graduated this spring.”

Growing the impact

So far, the Last Mile Fund has been utilized 31 times, giving out $67,557 in emergency funding to College of Arts and Sciences students.

Here’s a surprise: This vital gift to K-State students comes from a non-K-Stater. Kit earned her undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard and spent most of her career at the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, D.C. After retiring in 2019, she focused her attention on creating this emergency fund to help students like those she’d learned about from her sister.  What’s next? Kit hopes other donors will contribute to the fund so it can expand to help all students across the university.

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zach hanood

Zach Hanood Senior Development Officer - Universitywide


tom curoe

Tom Curoe Development Officer - Universitywide