As part of its ongoing efforts to increase degree completion, APLU named Arizona State University; the University of Memphis; the University of Nevada, Reno; the University of Rhode Island; and Wayne State University as finalists for its 2018 Degree Completion Award. The annual prize works to identify, recognize, and reward institutions that employ innovative approaches to improve retention and degree completion. One of the five finalists will be named the 2018 Degree Completion Award winner during the APLU Annual Meeting, November 11-13, in New Orleans, Louisiana. In this fourth of a five-part series, APLU profiles University of Rhode Island’s efforts to improve retention and degree completion.
The University of Rhode Island (URI) implemented a new comprehensive student success plan in 2010, focusing on a new strategic financial aid allocation model, instituting curriculum pathway maps, carefully monitoring semester credit completion rates, investments in new professional academic advisors, and establishing an early-alert system to help identify students who were struggling.
URI overhauled its general education program to help students better build skills for the 21st century workforce. The university also increased the number of students receiving financial aid to 92 percent of those demonstrating need, up from 77 percent in 2010.
The multifaceted approach produced significant student success gains. Over the last decade, first-year student retention increased by 8 percent and the four-year graduation rate increased by 14 percentage points. For the university’s rapidly growing population of Pell students, the six-year graduation rate increased by 13 percentage points over the last four years – halving the achievement gap between students receiving Pell Grants and their peers. The six-year graduation gap among historically underrepresented students and other students was similarly cut in half over the same period, even as significantly more minority students enrolled. URI’s transformation has produced a significant return on investment and has built pride within the community.
Learn more about the other 2018 Degree Completion Award finalists.