31 colleges will help an estimated 4,000 low-income students stay on the path to graduation
Madison, Wis.--Community and technical colleges provide a gateway to promising futures for students from diverse backgrounds, many who are older, lower income, working and/or raising families. They juggle multiple financial responsibilities and unforeseen expensesoften less than $500can threaten their ability to stay in college. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, just 20 percent of full-time students at public two-year institutions earn a degree within three years. Financial emergencies are among the reasons why so many students abandon their studies before they complete their degrees or certificates.
Colleges can make a difference for these at-risk students by quickly providing small emergency grants to remove economic barriers that stand in the way of completion. Through its new Dash Emergency Grant Program, Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation is helping more colleges offer emergency grants to students who receive Federal Pell Grants.
Great Lakes has awarded $1.5 million in Dash grants to 31 colleges in Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin that have shown an extraordinary commitment to engaging with students who experience a financial crisis. Proof of this commitment is an institutional investment: each college is providing an escalating cash match for student emergency grants, both to meet students immediate needs and move toward program sustainability. Over the duration of the grant period, upwards of 4,000 students stand to benefit from the Dash program.
"Great Lakes is pleased to provide more resources to colleges that are dedicated to supporting students in times of greatest need," said Richard D. George, President and Chief Executive Officer of Great Lakes. "Emergency grants are a bridge to college completion and the financial security a community college credential can provide."
The process is simple: students apply for small grants directly from their college when faced with an unexpected bill, such as a car repair or medical payment. Expenses are paid within 48 hours of the approved application. By quickly removing financial distractions, students dont lose focus on their studies and continue moving toward completion.
Dash is based on the success of an emergency grant program that Great Lakes piloted at 16 technical colleges in Wisconsin from June 2012 to June 2015. More than 2,600 students received grants averaging $500 each. Of the students who received emergency grants during the three-year period, 73 percent either graduated or remained enrolled, compared to 67 percent of Pell recipients before the program began.
Southwest Wisconsin Technical College participated in the pilot program and is a recipient of a new Dash grant. "The emergency grants we made during the pilot grant were vital to keeping our most at-risk students enrolled during a time of crisis," said Barb Tucker, Director of Institutional Advancement. "As a small, rural college, reliable transportation is critical to our students success. More than 63 percent of the grants we made allowed students to make essential car repairs and receive transportation assistance. If our college hadnt been able to meet the immediate needs of these students, I have no doubt that many of them would have dropped out."
Recipients of the 2016-2018 Dash emergency grant program are:
Blackhawk Technical College
Central Lakes College
Central Ohio Technical Colleg
Chippewa Valley Technical College
Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Clark State Community College
Eastern Gateway Community College
Edison Community College
Hawkeye Community College
Hennepin Technical College
Brooklyn Park, Minnesota
Iowa Western Community College
Council Bluffs, Iowa
Lakeland Community College
Lorain County Community College
Mid-State Technical College
Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin
Milwaukee Area Technical College
Normandale Community College
North Central State College
Northcentral Technical College
Northeast Iowa Community College
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Northwest Iowa Community College
Pine Technical and Community Colle
Pine City, Minnesota
Riverland Community College
Rochester Community and Technical College
South Central College
North Mankato, Minnesota
Southwest Wisconsin Technical College
Stark State College
Vermilion Community College
Waukesha County Technical College
Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College
Shell Lake, Wisconsin
Zane State College