By the time college students have completed three-quarters of their academic program, it might seem like their path to graduation is set. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. As students near graduation, their academic programs are at their most rigorous, and increasing textbook and supply costs, class scheduling conflicts or maxing out of federal financial aid availability can create unexpected challenges to degree completion. Alverno students who face challenges in their final semesters are often low-income students and students of color who are juggling jobs and significant family responsibilities with their educations, leaving them with a razor-thin margin of error.
For these students, even a small crisis or financial setback can put them at risk of falling behind, dropping courses, taking leaves of absence or withdrawing from academic programs. The personal and community impact of non-completion can be profound. Without the earning power a degree or credential provides, students often struggle with meeting their financial obligations, including repaying student loans that they may have incurred. This issue is magnified in high-demand fields where positions remain unfilled, preventing employers from growing and communities from prospering.
To help propel more at-risk students to graduation, Alverno College has been awarded a $199,600 College Completion Grant from Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation. Alverno is one of 14 two- and four-year colleges in five states that were awarded College Completion Grants.
Alverno will use the grant to launch a new program to support nursing students from disadvantaged backgrounds who are vulnerable during their final semesters. Nursing was chosen because it is the largest major at Alverno, and because Milwaukee faces a looming shortage of nurses, especially nurses of color. As the most diverse four-year college or university in the state, Alverno nurses often choose to practice in medically underserved communities, helping to address an urgent need in Wisconsin. The program will begin in the fall and work with approximately 40 eligible students per year. Participants will be given small grants and nursing-focused pro-active advising in order to address small problems before they derail progress, ensuring that students are connected to the appropriate campus support services as well as external services.
“We’re optimistic that this grant will allow us to bridge the gap for students who are close to graduation,” said Peg Rauschenberger, MSN, RN, interim dean of the JoAnn McGrath School of Nursing at Alverno College. “Alverno is dedicated to graduating the highest quality nurses, and ideally this will help get more nurses working in the communities that need them the most.”
“We are impressed that Alverno College and our other grant recipients critically analyzed their institutional data and then proposed comprehensive plans to help struggling students cross the finish line and begin careers in high-demand fields,” said Richard D. George, President and Chief Executive Officer of Great Lakes. “Given our philanthropic focus on advancing completion, we’re interested to see how these plans can positively impact graduation rates for low-income students, first-generation students and students of color.”
About Great Lakes: Dedicated to making college education a reality since 1967.
Knowing that education has the power to change lives for the better, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates was established as a nonprofit group focused on a single objective: helping students nationwide prepare for and succeed in postsecondary education and student loan repayment. As a leading student loan guarantor and servicer, Great Lakes has been selected by the U.S. Department of Education to provide assistance and repayment planning to more than 8 million borrowers—as well as assistance to colleges and lenders nationwide. The group’s earnings support one of the largest and most respected education philanthropy programs in the country. Since 2006, Great Lakes has committed over $172 million in grant funding to promote higher education access and completion for students of color, low-income students, and first-generation students. For additional information, visit home.mygreatlakes.org.
About Alverno College
Alverno College, a four-year independent, Catholic, liberal arts college for women, exists to promote the personal and professional development of its students. The college has earned accolades and respect internationally for its highly effective ability-based, assessment-as-learning approach to education, and has consulted with three U.S. presidential administrations on accountability and outcomes in higher education. For the last seven years, Alverno College has been ranked one of the top five schools in the Midwest doing “the best job of educating undergrads” by U.S. News & World Report. Educators from throughout the world visit Alverno to learn about its proven, student-centered teaching methods.
Alverno offers more than 60 major areas of study, including graduate programs in education, nursing, community psychology and business that are open to women and men. For more information about Alverno, visit www.alverno.edu or call 414-382-6100.