While earning a college degree is a life-changing achievement for many students, other students miss out on graduation due to seemingly small but insurmountable financial shortfalls. These students come oh-so-close to graduation but get derailed by the compounding effects of unexpected expenses, such as a $500 car repair bill, balances due at their college, and minimal, if any, savings safety net available.
These financial shortfalls affect students throughout this country. Similar problems are experienced by students attending SCICU member colleges and universities.
Dr. Shari Garmise, Vice President for Urban Initiatives at the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (profile at aplu.org), recently published “Rethinking financial aid: Small grants make a big difference in college completion”, illustrating the importance of small emergency grants to struggling students. More information on Garmise’s work with completion grants and emergency aid can be read here.
While state and federal financial aid programs can start students on the path towards graduation, many students fail to reach the finish line when financial shortfalls arise late in their college careers.
The students most likely to drop out from financial distress are low income, under-represented minorities, or first generation college students. And, even though these students represent a large and growing presence on college campuses, the maximum financial aid available to them covers a shrinking share of the cost of college.
Recognizing this problem, many colleges have launched completion grant and micro grant programs to proactively identify academically successful students who are close to earning a degree, but have exhausted all known sources of aid and are on the brink of dropping out. Completion grants, usually ranging from $500 to $1,500, help struggling students meet their education expenses and finish their degrees. Garmise’s research showed that students who receive these small hardship grants have a 93% chance of completing their degrees.
SCICU’s Discretionary Scholarship Program for Supplemental Aid
Beginning with the 2016-17 academic year, SCICU restructured its Unrestricted Giving Program to form the new SCICU Discretionary Scholarship Program to supplement the completion grant programs offered by many SCICU member colleges and universities. Discretionary Scholarship funds raised each year by SCICU are distributed to the colleges based on a formula and the funds must be made a part of the college’s general scholarship fund and awarded at the discretion of the college to students with extenuating financial circumstances. In 2017, approximately $112,000 was distributed to the SCICU-member colleges that provided scholarships averaging about $550 to over 200 students.
Your Opportunity To Help With Emergency Grants at SCICU Member Institutions
The 2017-18 fiscal year fundraising campaign for the SCICU Discretionary Scholarship Program began on September 1, 2017 and will conclude on August 31, 2018. This year’s goal is to raise $125,000 from our Trustees, friends and advocates. As with each year, SCICU aims for 100% participation among the members of Board of Trustees.
Please help us reach this annual goal by going to https://scicu.org/site/donate today and making a generous gift to the SCICU Discretionary Scholarship Program. Every little bit helps!