Completion grants may help curb attrition among near-graduates

Relatively small completion grants of $500-$1,500 could “make a big difference” in enabling degree attainment among academically successful students who are just shy of graduating but “have exhausted all known sources of aid,” according to column in The Washington Post by Shari Garmise, the executive director of the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities.

Garmise calls on colleges and universities to “reimagine” aid to not only facilitate access but also ensure completion. She points to the results of a recent pilot program in which 93 percent of the 1,200-plus high-risk students who received completion grants graduated or continued their studies in the subsequent 18 months. The nine universities that participated in the pilot estimated that 10 percent of their seniors would qualify for completion grants.

Other organizations, including the University Innovation Alliance, are launching similar completion grant efforts, and Garmise mentions a partnership with Temple University researchers to study completion grant best practices and the potential to expand them at other universities. She closes by writing that institutions should “make sure a few hundred dollars doesn’t stand between a qualified student and a degree that unlocks a lifetime of opportunity.”

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