New Program at U of M to Improve Retention of Low-Income Students

Updated: 01/16/2014 6:53 PM
Created: 01/16/2014 5:11 PM
By: Beth McDonough

The University of Minnesota launched a new program to improve the retention of low-income students.  

It's called, "Retaining All of Our Students," or RAOS. The focus is on financial planning, information and tutoring.

That's because leaders at the U tell KSTP, low-income students aren't familiar with how to find financial aid, and may not have the resources. 

As a result, they're more likely to drop out of college or delay going. In fact, Rose Simon of Hopkins didn't think college was possible. Her family couldn't afford it. 

Yet, a special program for low-income students opened the door for Simon and 1,100 other students at the U of M, "I don't think it's fair for someone just because of their status and where they come from to not be given the opportunity to go to college."

She's a freshman, studying social science. Now that she's in school, the U is working to make sure she stays in school.  

While retention rates have increased the past decade, the U says it loses about 13 percent of low-income first year students. That's compared to a loss of 9 percent for others. 

Many of the low-income students are first-generation college students or students of color. The most at risk are Pell Grant recipients.

The U's new program is geared at closing the degree divide," if you can keep a student here into the sophomore year, the probabilities are much much higher that you'll be able to keep them and graduate them in a timely way," according to the U of M Dean of Undergraduate Education Robert McMaster.

As for Simon, "I think it shows the university cares about these students and wants to diversify the campus and this is a step in the right direction."

It's estimated the program will affect close to 5,000 students at the U over four years, as they earn degrees.

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