02/18/05 — Grant aimed at keeping students in school

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Grant aimed at keeping students in school

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on February 18, 2005 2:03 PM

Wayne Community College has been chosen to participate in a pilot project to provide emergency aid to students who might otherwise drop out of school. The college will receive $20,000 from Scholarship America over the next three years to implement the program.

A total of $1.5 million was awarded to Scholarship America by the Lumina Foundation for Education to help design and test the community college emergency aid program. Eleven colleges were selected for the Scholarship America pilot program as part of the Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count initiative, which is a national effort to increase the success rate of students attending community colleges.

Unexpected financial problems force many students attending community colleges to leave early. Most financial aid programs are not designed to pay for personal expenses such as car repairs, medical bills or other unforeseen emergencies.

When financial situations occur that prevent a student from completing a semester, WCC will now be able to respond, said Yvonne Goodman, the associate vice president of the college, who will manage the program. Hopefully, she said, the funds will be available as early as this spring.

In addition to providing money, the program will help students prepare plans to avoid financial problems, including counseling, referral assistance, mentoring and instruction on personal budget planning.

Recipient colleges are expected to match the grant dollars. Officials hope the program will encourage other organizations to help support the needs of community college students.

The selected colleges had to demonstrate the ability to administer emergency student aid, raise matching funds, and stimulate community funding. The schools also agreed to designate a person to manage the fund and administer the program, in addition to keeping records for evaluation of the program. Scholarship America will administer the program in cooperation with the selected institutions.

"Community colleges have told us that one way to help keep these students in school is to establish a fund that would help colleges address their emergency needs," said Martha D. Lamkin, chief executive officer and president of the Lumina Foundation.