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College Success Grant Awarded from Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation

Funds Support Interventions That Keep At-Risk First-Year Students on Path to Graduation

MILWAUKEE (August 18, 2014) – Mount Mary University recently received a $66,000 College Success grant from Great LakNicole Gahaganes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation for the 2014-2015 academic year. The Great Lakes grant will be used to launch “Strong Start,” a Mount Mary program designed to identify at-risk freshman students early and connect them with support services that can help keep them in school and complete their certificates or degrees.

Research shows that students who are placed on academic probation during their freshman year are up to 82 percent less likely to graduate in five years than those who aren’t. This is especially true for students from low-income backgrounds, students of color, and students who are first in their families to attend college.

According to Nicole Gahagan, dean for student affairs, 54% of Mount Mary’s undergraduates identify as first-generation college students, 46% identify as students of color, and over a third are Pell eligible. “Although many of our students are academically capable of achieving a baccalaureate degree, obstacles beyond the classroom, such as a lack of financial resources, inadequate career direction, greater family responsibilities, and a lower sense of belonging on a college campus, historically have made graduation less likely for this student population,” Gahagan stated. “The generous grant from Great Lakes will help us improve the retention and persistence rates of students from traditionally underserved backgrounds.”

Richard D. George, Great Lakes president and chief executive officer, believes moving students toward greater opportunity in life benefits everyone. “We’re proud to fund programs that provide bold steps to overcome obstacles these students face,” said George. “We look forward to seeing the impact Mount Mary University can have on helping more students graduate and achieve their full potential.”

Great Lakes College Success grants, totaling $2.7 million, were awarded to 19 two- and four-year colleges, universities, and community and technical colleges across Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. A total of 5,280 students from low-income backgrounds, students of color, and students who are first in their families to attend college will benefit from support services during the 2014-2015 academic year. This grant is just one way Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates works to achieve its goal of helping more students benefit from their investment in higher education, and graduate ready to reach their full potential.