What Are Completion Grants? Another Look.

HEAG California, Financial Aid Industry News, FL, MA, NY, PA, Student Services

Some college students get extremely close to graduation day and when that happy moment of walking Completion Grantsacross the stage to receive their diploma should be around the corner they run into a snag. They learn they have to pay their tuition balance to zero in order to get their degree.

Finding the funds to cover their balance may not be easy. They may not have enough cash or even credit to pay the bill. Credit may tighten on a potential new private student loan and they can be denied. Or worse yet, they may have completely run out of federal Pell grants and/or federal Direct loans because of transferring between a few different colleges, leaving them one semester short.

Some schools are looking at ways to make sure small balances do not prevent students from receiving their degree. The idea of “completion grants” came about a few years ago and continue to gain in popularity as funds grow to support the grants.

Over the past two years, the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU) and the Association of Land-grant Universities (APLU) have been working to implement completion grants across nine public research universities in six states. Read their report here: “Foiling the Drop-out Trap: Completion Grant Practices for Retaining and Graduating Students.”

The lowest income student population is always at the most risk of dropping out for a variety of reasons. To help these students graduate, some universities are targeting students with unmet need and balances under $1000 in their final semester.

Increasing completion rates and lowering student loan default rates are the ultimate goal of these niche grant programs. This proactive approach and helping the most at-risk student populations is an exciting new development in financial aid.

This article originally appeared in HEAG’s Spring 2018 Financial Aid Newsletter. Sign up here to receive the newsletter by email:

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