National report cites two IUPUI microgrant programs that help students graduate

  • Feb. 23, 2016


INDIANAPOLIS -- A national report points to two Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis programs as leading examples of how to use microgrants to turn financially struggling, low-income students nearing completion of their degrees from would-be dropouts into college graduates.

Issued by the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities and the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities, the report, "Foiling the Drop-out Trap: Completion Grant Practices for Retaining and Graduating Students," details the success of IUPUI's programs, as well as programs at nine other universities, at helping these students stay in class, make progress toward their degrees and graduate.

The report offers a how-to manual for universities across the country to duplicate these programs or develop similar ones.

The authors of the report turned to IUPUI because of its national reputation for innovative programs that help students succeed, said Rebecca E. Porter, IUPUI associate vice chancellor for enrollment management.

The microgrant programs detailed in the report target students who:

  • Have an unmet financial need and have used all other sources of aid;
  • Are on track for graduation in the next semester or year; and
  • Have an outstanding financial gap that will require them to drop out.

Many students, especially low-income students who are the first in their family to go to college, face an ongoing risk of dropping out for financial reasons, said Porter. "That is worrisome, but it is particularly distressing if it happens when a student has only one or two semesters left before graduation. That’s why we developed Home Stretch [one of the programs cited in the report]."

In the Home Stretch program, launched in 2013, students with unmet need who are close to graduation and are in their fifth or sixth year of study can receive a loan as an incentive to attend school full time and graduate sooner. If the student fulfills the program criteria and graduates, the loan is forgiven. If the student fails to do so, the loan, with a moderate interest rate, must be repaid.

The second program cited in the report is the Grant for Access and Persistence Award, launched in 2015. It is designed to help high-need, at-risk students who are eligible for both the Indiana O'Bannon Grant and federal Pell Grant funds. Recipients receive a renewable $2,000 yearly grant, getting $1,000 per semester.

The two programs are among IUPUI's supplemental need-based grants that have demonstrated a remarkable level of success, Porter said.

"Of 1,985 supplemental need-based grant recipients in fall 2015, 93 percent returned for the spring 2016 semester," Porter said. "The data demonstrates the success that our students who receive these awards are having."

Richard Schneider