58: Micro-Grants as Stop-Out Prevention at University of North Carolina at Charlotte w/ Tina McEntire

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Tina McEntire, Associate Provost at University of North Carolina at Charlotte, discusses how their Gold Rush micro-grant program keeps students from stopping out late in their program for financial reasons, and how 95% of micro-grant recipients at UNC-Charlotte have either successfully graduated or are on track to do so.

The most shocking thing for us, I think,was that when we looked at their loan debt, their average loan debt wasactually higher at the time of stoffout than what our graduate average loane.It was, so they had accumulated more debt more quickly than our students aregraduating. You're, listening to enroment growth,university from helic education, the best professional development podcastfor higher education leaders looking to grow in Romant at their college oruniversity, whether you're looking for fresh and romant growth techniques andstrategies or tools and resources. You've come to the right place. Let'sget into the show, welcome back to an Roman GrowthUniversity, a proud member of the connect Edu podcast network, I'm Mer,Golson AVP of marketing at helics education and we're here today withTina MacIntyre associate provost at University of North Carolina atCharlotte, Tina welcomed the show. Thank you glad to be here reallyexcited. Jock wit. You today about micro grants and their potentialeffectiveness at preventing, financially motivated, stopouts anddrop outs. But before we dhinking to that Tina, can you get the listeners alittle bit better understanding of both UNC Charlotte and your role there? So you and so Charlotte, as aUniversity of twenty nine husand students, we are known as NorthCarolin's urban research institution. We have undergraduate graduate anddoctoral programs. We have strong focus and stem engineering business, thesciences and we certainly serve our region international population. MyRoll at UNDC Charlott, as the associate proverse of Enroman Management, is tolead the eight enrolment, related departments, but also work on campuswide issues that affect or prohibit enrollment and progression towardsdebris, and so I really focus on the...

...total student lifecycle and trying tomake sure that we certainly bring in the right students through theadmissions office that reports to me, but also being able to help studentsafford a four year, education through financial aid and be able to actuallyultimately graduate awesome Tina. When you see stopouts and drop outs late inthe students academa career when they're in their last year or eventheir last semester, what is your research found is primarily causingthose stops at UNC. CHARLOTTE, so we conducted O A stopout research studylast year and it really was prompted by when I'm reviewing our aiteligibilityover four years, really looking at some seniors who were losing their aigdeligibility or some of their aid eligibility bad their senior year. Aswe all know, the Pell, you only have twelve semesters of pell. We have a lotof transfer students in our institution we bring in over forty three hundredtransfers per year, so we bring in a large nummer of transfer stuents peryear. A lot of them have used some of their aid eligibility at otherinstitutions, and so we saw that by their senior year they were losing someAdeligibility, and so what that prompted was some stopout researchlooking at who our stoffout students are, how many we have and why they'restupping out. So we did a study and looked. We have twenty fourthousandundergraduates at the university and what we found is that we were losingown average and we looked about a six term average. Six hundred and seventyacademically eligible students stop out for one on more terms: every singlesemester, six hundred an seventy students. So obviously that concernedUS- and we looked at those students who had earned sixty earned credit hours sothey're halfway home they're, all you know, they're halfway through to thefinishe line of a of a degree, and you know what we found is they weren'tstudents who were performing poorly academically? Sixty three percent of Mhad a GPA ABOV E two point: O Imean two point: Five: Thirty, two percent ofthem heard GPA over a three pointo, so...

...it wasn't academic difficulty that wasmaking them stop out. So when we surveyed this population, what we foundand what their feeback was to us is that seventy four percent synotemindicated that financial concerns was the motivator for stopping out fiftyseven percent that they need to enter the workforce and work more hours inorder to afford college. The most shocking thing for us, I think, wasthat when we looked at their loan debt, their average loan debt was actuallyhigher at the time of stopout than what our graduate average loan debt was. Sothey had accumulate more debt more quickly than our gress students who aregraduating, and so really. We knew then that we had to do something tointervene and in two thousand and sixteen, the Association of public andLand Grand Universities sent a request for proposals for completion grantprograms, and when I saw that I thought Oh, my Gosh, that's the answer isreally looking at. How can we help these students, who are so close to thefinish line cross that finish line and in a microgram, because we did see alot of Hese students who didn't who had some had significant unmet need andsome had little a met Ne, but there were still umet need there after theirfinancial at was awarded, and so we applied and were received a fiftythousand dollar grant to develop a completion grant program through APLU.So in August two thosand and sixteen we launched our completion grant program.We really focus on students who are very close to graduation, so we look atstudents who have a hundred and five hours or greater, so they are in theirsenior year. They should be able to graduate the GPA requirement to beeliible for a grantis to Pono or better. We didn't want to put an academicrequirement on it. That was two STRENGA. You know if you're performing at a toponor, better than you're eligible to graduate we looked at students who, hadyou know, a met, need and because of...

...money restrictions they had to be NorthCarolina residents, and so we are awarding a fifteen hundred dollar grantand that that's a microgrant to students who meet the eligibility ofcriteria and we're really looking at and we've been doing this for two years.So we started in August, W thsand and sixteen and we've awarded five hundredand forty four grants. So we're really proud of the PARGAMIT's called the GoldRush Grant Program at it is our completion grant program. Anotherunique fastet of our program is that we knew part of the APLEU requirement wasthat students ha had to have some skin in the game, so they had to have. Theyhad to do something in order to get the grant and show that they were investedin their future too, and so what we looked at is future building activities.So we know that these students are seniors. We know that they are close tograduation, so we began to look at what could they do to help them towardsgraduation and then after their career afterwards? So our future buildingactivitis students have to complete two future building activities, and theyare things like go to the cruis center and complete a resume workshop and haveyour rusume approve through the Crif Center. Another option is to completesome financial literacy modules on how to start paying back your loans, how tocreate a budget, some information about established and credit. We knew allthese types of things would help sudents in the future after theygraduate, and so we were really trying to help the student, although that theythey're, showing they have skin. In the game we've chosen activities, we thinkthat will really help them in the future. You've spoken to some of thequalification requirements for those who are able to access these gold rushcompletion grants are ther limitations as to what these grant funds can beused, for. There really aren't limitations in what they can be usedfor, so so what we do, each semester is, after we award the grants. We actuallysurvey the students who received the...

...grant, at the end of the semester, toConte to get their fee back one on the future building activities, but to iswhat did they do is the grant. How did the grand help them and we had seenstudents who said I was. Finally, I was able to buy my books this semester.With this money, I wasn't able to buy books last semester we had to bee backfrom another student who said this is the first semester. I've worked lessthan thirty hours. This grant helped me pay for my utilities, and so it is agrant that really some students will use towards their tuition. Otherstudents were used to buy their books and then other students will use it tohelp feed their families. So it is a grant without restrictionhis own howstudent es that you mentioned you've been able to give out over five hundredof these gold rush micro gramd completion grant. So far. What is theresponse from students Ben thus far, and how successful have thesemicrogrants been in getting at risk students to continue on track tordgraduation? So what we have done, as, as you know,there's always more need than funds, and so what we've been able to do is wehave a control group of students who met the eligibility requirements forthe gold rush grant, but we didn't have enough money, and so they didn'treceive the grant. So we have two groups, the group, the Treatment Groupof students who receive the grant and the group of students who did notreceive the grant. We've tracked both students and what we found is that thestudents who receive the grant end up taking more hours each semester andthey are progressing faster towards graduation. And so we know that ourstudents are able to take more hours and that they are graduating at afaster rate, and so we're very happy about that. I think having the controlgroup that we also follow and Yeus has been highly successful for us to beable to really track and know what we're looking at the overall graduationrate is currently twenty four points higher for the Gold Rush, grandrecipients over our control group of eligible students, not selected for thegrant, and so and of course you know,...

...it's only we've only awarded fivehundred and forty four grant so we're early into this grant program, but sofar those results you know are outstanding. So we're very happy aboutthat. The other thing that we, the feeback that we are receiving, I think,has been the most surprising for us- is that when we survey these students, onewere surprised at how many actually give us tee back, which is great, buttwo is how many of them have actually thanked us for the future buildingactivities. We've had so much feedback from our students. That says, I shouldhave gone to the chreer center earlier. I had been before so glad that you mademe go another one said I wish I'd take in these financial literacy modulesabout how to establish a budget from the very beginning of since I was afreshman so finding out how helpful the and we've actually tweeked them. We hadsomeg like career testing in the beginning that we used as a futurebuilding activity and that feedback came back not as helpful and so we'veadded in some other career options, and so we've tweiked our program based onstudent feeback. The other FE Bhat that we've received is a a lot of peopl bout.Thank you for this honor S. thank you for believing in me. So we were. Youknow a little shocked that students, you know not only Sall this as moneythey needed, but also that somebody believed in them that they weresurprised and honor, that someone believed that they could cross thefinish line, and so it seemds to be an extra booth and motivation motivatorfor them to continue their studies and that we believe in them, and we knowthey can cross the fiish line so that it seems like that kind of grant awardcame at the right time and their career to motivate them. To finish, and sothat's been a joy for us to read, is that kind of feedback? Just you know,someone believed in me. Thank you for believing it me missionally. Theresults of this program make it feel like a no brainer. So far. What abouteconomically? This feels like a very low cost opportunity you mentione,these grants are are roughly fifteen...

...hundred dollars and these students, thyou mentioned, are- are now completing at twenty four percent higher than yourholeout group talk about the economic benefits of four fifteen hundred Olars,getting that tuition revenue for the rest of their program. So I think theeconomic benefit for us obviously is to have more stunests graduate, and but Ican tell you that the difficulty when we first began our grant program. It'sidentifind the money because the APLU were awarded at fifty thousand dollargrant to create a program, but none of that money could be used towardsactually giving the grants, and so we had to identify financial aid moneythat was nee based funds that we could use towards this program. And so we hada couple of funds, and then I created something called the Evergreen Funwhere you an co Charlotte. The forty Ninors, our colors are green and reallytried to reach out to alumni and donors and the evergreen fun is a fun. That'sunrestricted scholarship money to help students either graduate or enter theuniversity, and we use some of those funds towards our Gold Rush GrantProgram. So finding the money probably was the most difficult part. Becauseyou know we don't there's not a lot of unrestrictede funds. We neede to makesure that we weren't taking need money. That was need, based away from anothergroup that we were using this this money in a very strategic way and goodsteard of donor funds and a good stort of of you know, kneedbased dollars andso finding the money was something that I'm sure all university struggle with.We have been fortunate in that because our Goald rushgrant program has been asuccess. I have worked with our advancement office to really talk tothem about that, because I think it's a great donor story. What Donnor woittenwant to give you know a fifteen hundred dollar grant to help us doit across thefinish line. WHO's already proven themselves by already earning a lot ofcredit, that've gotten to their senior...

...year. So it's a great donor story, andso I've worked with our advance Ben Office and recently justice past spring,the UNC Charlotte Foundation. Our Foundation has R has approved a onemillion dollar match program, and so they'll match dollar for dollar, forany donor, who wants to give money to the Goldrushgrand program, and so thatwill really set us up for future funding so that one will be able toaward more grants, but also continue this grant program year after year.Ouknow, that's incredible news, and that is a great story indeed. Finally,any next step advice for listeners, considering a similar microgranestrategy for preventing stopouts at their institution, I think my numberone advice is to have a control group, because without our control group oneis that you can't talk about the full need, because you know what we'velooked at we've, not just you know, selected our students we've looked at.What is you know if we had the money? What would that? How many studentscould we meet their need and so being able to say that to your advancement,your donors is here's. What the full need looks like help us get there tomeet more student need, I think, to is being able to track your results and sohow many students are actually looking at the number of credit howrs therethey're taking. Has that increased with a with a completion grant looking atgraduation and having a control group to compare that to of students who meetthat same criteria is important. So that's that's kind, O the research sideis you've got to have the data to do. The comparison, I think also is, ispublicized it widely. I think that there are some completion grantprograms where the finantad office really manages it. It's not talkedabout broadly on campus, and we've made it a point to talk about it, broadly,not only on our campus, but in the UNC system. You know we're part of aseventeen or sixteen university system, and, and we've talked to President Spellingsabout this program, and she's mentioned...

...it in some of her speeches. So I ' it'simportant to communicate broadly what we're doing to help sence cross thefinish line, and I think this is. We have such a good story to tell becauseit's not like we're bringing in students from the beginning and we'renot sure they haven't proven whether or not they can be successful. We'rereally taking a group of students, who've invested their money and theirlives and themselves into their education. They've been successful andwe're just helping them get to that last little bit, Tino thanks! So muchfor your time today. What's the best place for listeners to connect with you,they have me follow up questions. Winsters can reach me at my emailaddress at Tina, Ti Na dot, MacIntyre macintars MC ent ire at unccdi Eduawesome thanks against so much for joining a satia. Thank you so muchattracting today's new post, traditional learners, means adoptingnew enrolmant strategies. Keeliks educations data driven enterprise, wideapproach to enrolment growth is uniquely helping colleges anduniversities thrive in this new education, landscape and Helix has justpublished the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fiftypercent brand new content. On how institutions cansolve today's mostpressing enromant growth challenges download it today for free at Helock's,Educationcom playbook you've been listening to enromantgrowth university from helic education to ensure that you never miss anepisode subscribe to the show, an ITU or your favorite podcast player. Thankyou so much for listening until next time.

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