Three schools ensuring Pell student success

More low-income students doesn't mean low graduation rates

The United States spends billions of dollars on Pell Grants every year, but until recently, it did not have solid information on recipients' college completion rates, Shane Turner reports for Advancing Diversity.

An analysis by the Education Trust this year found that the more Pell recipients an institution enrolls, the lower the graduation rate for those students. However, three schools manage to both enroll and graduate high shares of low-income students.

California State University, Stanislaus

Focusing resources on increasing tenure-track faculty, improving advising, and expanding access to bottleneck classes helped the institution move its graduation rates up, says Tim Lynch, associate VP of communications and public affairs.

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Advising has been particularly helpful, says Lynch, and the university plans to put even more resources toward it in the future. The institution also plans to add more writing resources.

City University of New York, Bernard M. Baruch College

The institution's SEEK Opportunity Program provides full financial support, as well as academic and social support to low-income students. The program is very active during students' early years, but runs until graduation. A summer academic skills "boot camp" and a peer mentor program aim to make the transition to college smooth as well, says Mary Gorman, the interim VP for enrollment management and strategic academic initiatives.

Additionally, all students can receive free tutoring at the school's Student Academic Consulting Center and free writing help at the writing center. And the Center for Academic Advisement checks in on students midway through their first semester to make sure everything is going well—and provides support if a student needs help.

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The Center for Student Success and Engagement acts as a "one-stop support" for students, says Bernadette Alden, director of the school's marketing and communications. A financial literacy website and the Financial Aid Office provide additional resources for students.

Also see: What can TurboTax teach us about improving FAFSA completion

Peer advisors and the First Year Experience Program aim to support students transitioning into college life, while the 30 by 3 program tracks first-years to make sure they're on schedule to earn 30 credits by the beginning of their second year (Turner, Advancing Diversity, 4/12).

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