news 3 days ago

UM-Flint launches program to help students complete their degrees — Mila Murray

June 30--The six-year graduation rate for students enrolled in public institutions is 60%, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

That’s why Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Kristi Hottenstein said a new program with the goal of helping former students complete their college education was launched at the University of Michigan – Flint.

“This is a large population of students that have both the ability to be successful and the desire to get their degree, but they need a little help,” Hottenstein said. “The truth of the matter is the most prominent reason why students drop out of college are financial concerns.”

To alleviate financial pressures, the Pathway to Completion program will offer nine credits for free to students returning to UM-Flint to finish their undergraduate degrees.

“We see that while students drop out of college, 40% of dropouts have a 3.0 or higher GPA,” Hottenstein said. “So they’re academically able to do the work, and they signed up so they have the desire to be there, but financial reasons get in the way.”

Phase one of the pilot program will include approximately 340 students who left UM-Flint in the last three years. Hottenstein said the first phase will examine how lifting financial barriers brings students back to school and leads them completing their education, and if it does, the study will expand to a larger group.

“We wanted to start off with a pretty manageable group, a group that was active within the last few years,” Hottenstein said. “And I think that will be able to help us gauge on a smaller scale what it may look like down the road.”

She said the biggest success indicator for phase one will be if the group of students re-enroll in courses at the end of the semester, and phase two would be expanding the program to incentivize students who dropped out more than three years ago.

“I was reading a study that said that in Michigan, approximately 228,000 people between the ages of 18 and 44 with an income under $50,000 don’t have a degree from a four year institution, but it’s indicated that they’d like to pursue education or training,” Hottenstein said. “So it’s a huge population of students.”

The Pathway to Completion program is funded in part by a $750,000 grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation that will be matched by UM-Flint, making the total investment in the program $1.5 million.

“I’m very appreciative to the Mott Foundation for partnering with us,” Hottenstein said. “It’s something that I’m passionate about that I thought would benefit students and university for a while, so I’m excited to see it moving forward.”

The pilot program is open now with a landing page set to launch on their website June 30. Students who meet all the criteria to be eligible can apply there. Hottenstein said they aim to have students enrolled as early as Fall 2020.

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