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APLU and Urban Serving Universities Award Nine Public Urban Research Universities $450K for Micro-Grant Programs Aimed at Helping Low-Income Students Graduate

March 14, 2016

Washington, DC – Continuing their effort to promote the use of micro-grants to prevent low-income college students nearing graduation from dropping out, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU) awarded nine public urban research universities a total of $450,000 to launch or expand pilot programs of their own.

The nine institutions each receiving $50,000 are:

  • Cleveland State University
  • Florida International University
  • Kent State University
  • The Ohio State University
  • University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
  • University of Central Florida
  • University of Houston
  • University of North Carolina, Charlotte
  • Wayne State University

“Micro-grant programs, particularly at public urban research universities, have proven very effective at providing low-income students facing financial hardship with the resources they need to avoid dropping out and instead earn their diploma,” said Shari Garmise, Vice President of the USU/APLU Office of Urban Initiatives. “These grants will support nine institutions looking to help students in need.  By supporting these institutions as they develop a micro-grant program or expand a pilot program, we are effectively supporting students, the workforce, and the nation.”

The grants come on the heels of the release of APLU and USU’s report, Foiling the Drop-Out Trap, Completion Grant Practices for Retaining and Graduating Students, which detailed the success of these micro-grant student aid programs at 10 public urban research institutions and included an implementation guide for other universities looking to institute or scale micro-grant programs on their own campus. 

The grants announced today are for two years and are funded by Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation and Lumina Foundation.  The nine awardees have agreed to launch or begin expanding their pilot programs by fall 2016 and continue their development through June 2018.  Funds will be used to strengthen the infrastructures of institutions already serving a significant percentage of non-traditional, disadvantaged students who are low income, first generation, Pell grant eligible and minorities.   

Awardees were selected on a range of criteria. This included the institution’s ability to: ensure the inclusion and buy-in of campus leadership, including the president/chancellor and financial aid office;  monitor student data at multiple points over the two years; and build up the fund to support students in need; and identify, track, and communicate with students.

This micro-grant program is a component of USU and APLU’s broader student success initiative known as Collaborating for Change, which is building campus-community collaborations to transform higher education practices, reduce student costs, and educate and graduate more disadvantaged students.  As part of this larger effort, the institutional participants will be matched with peer mentors to form learning communities designed to offer technical assistance, professional development engagements, and other interactions to help them work through challenges, opportunities or unexpected developments as they build the student success efforts.  Georgia State University, Virginia Commonwealth University and Indianapolis University Purdue University Indianapolis have agreed to serve as mentor institutions.

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