UISG helps fund program that aims to help with completion rates at the University of Iowa

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UISG helps fund program that aims to help with completion rates at the University of Iowa

Rainy Tuesday on the University of Iowa campus. Old Capital on October 14th, 2014.(DailyIowan/AnnaKilzer)

Rainy Tuesday on the University of Iowa campus. Old Capital on October 14th, 2014.(DailyIowan/AnnaKilzer)

Rainy Tuesday on the University of Iowa campus. Old Capital on October 14th, 2014.(DailyIowan/AnnaKilzer)

Rainy Tuesday on the University of Iowa campus. Old Capital on October 14th, 2014.(DailyIowan/AnnaKilzer)

Elianna Novitch, [email protected]

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A pilot program aimed at helping students who are not eligible to register for classes for an upcoming semester because of overdue university bills received $30,000 in funding Tuesday night.

The University of Iowa Student Government voted to allocate funding to support the Hawkeye Completion Grant program. UISG has already worked with campus partners to raise $39,200 for the program.

“We talk a lot about the importance of receiving a degree from the University of Iowa, and one thing that is not talked about enough is the fact that we have many students who don’t receive their degree because they drop out for numerous reasons,” UISG President Jacob Simpson said. “By creating a very targeted program like this, we can support those students who are really close to getting their degree but have an unexpected shortfall.”

RELATED: UI works on retention

Under current UI policy, students with more than $100 overdue on their U-Bills are not eligible to register for classes for an upcoming semester.

“What happens with these students is that when they can’t register for their courses, they have to register late and have a later choice on classes, or they get frustrated and end up not enrolling for the following semester at all,” UISG Sen. Sara Bultsma said.

According to retention data on Iowa’s three public universities from the February 2017 state Board of Regents meeting, during the past 10 years, the average six-year graduation rate at the UI has been 69.5 percent. For the entering class of 2015, the one-year retention rate was 87.1 percent, a 2 percentage point increase over 2014.

The UI focuses on four-year graduation rates to ensure students receive their degrees in a timely manner, but the regents measure six-year graduation rates.

The grant will be targeted at assisting students who have a past-due university bill of less than $1,500, and according to completed credit hours, are in their junior or senior year.

These students must then apply for the grant and meet with the Office of Student Financial Aid to establish an agreement of support which will offer support and guidance promoting on issues such as financial literacy and academic planning.

“One of the things that’s really important to us is to help the student develop a plan and understand the resources that they do have so that this kind of bill isn’t a perpetual thing,” Student Financial Aid Senior Associate Director Cindy Seyfer said.

According to the bill, students may receive the grant more than once, although they may not receive more than $2,000 from the grant before they graduate. The program will assist in registration for the upcoming semesters of summer and fall.

RELATED: UISG advocates for more Academic Support & Retention funding

Other schools around the nation have similar programs in place. UISG specifically looked at Georgia State University’s program, called Panther Retention Grants, when coming up with the model for the pilot program.

According to Georgia State’s website, last year, nearly 2,000 students were brought back a following semester through the program and 61 percent of the seniors who received the grant last academic year graduated within two semesters of receiving the grant.

UISG hopes to be able to show the effect the program can have and receive more permanent funding for it in the future.

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