Colorado State University Reaching Out to Former Students as Part of Gov. Ritter’s Program, Complete College Colorado

They’re short one or two classes. A financial crisis arises. Or maybe they never realized they had enough credits to graduate.

Sometimes life just gets in the way for students who haven’t finished college.

As part of several ongoing programs to reconnect with those students, Colorado State University officials are reaching out to about 400 former students this week who have completed 90 credits or more and are very close to completing their bachelor’s degrees.

The effort is part of Gov. Bill Ritter’s month-long campaign called Complete College Colorado, which is designed to highlight the state’s commitment to providing access and affordability to a quality education as well as recognize the economic benefits of a college degree. For more about Complete College Colorado, go to

“Many things can interfere with a student’s plans to graduate: financial crisis, medical issues, personal issues, a career, a misunderstanding of requirements and so on,” said Colorado State Provost Rick Miranda. “We enthusiastically support the governor’s mission to bring attention to this important topic and highlight the success of our support programs for returning students.”

“Once a student decides to leave the university, the complexity of life and responsibilities often create further obstacles for students to return and finish their degree,” said Paul Thayer, associate vice president for Student Affairs and special advisor to the Provost for Retention. “The challenges that often force them to leave are then compounded when a student doesn’t know where to turn for support and resources.”

Colorado State University alumni generate about $4.1 billion in household income in Colorado, making it one of the most significant economic growth engines in the state, according to a 2009 report by two state economists at CSU. The earnings represent 3.1 percent of Colorado’s total household income and generate more than $130.8 million in income tax revenue and $50.2 million in sales tax revenue.

Highlights of Colorado State University’s efforts to help returning students:

Ram Graduation Initiative
o Implemented in Spring 2007 with the creation of Collegiate Success Coordinator position.
o Staff follows up with seniors once they pass their four-year graduation deadline and identifies a new group of students needing support each semester.
o Staff helps identify remaining requirements students need and helps them finish through online coursework, transfer coursework or by returning to CSU.
o A collaborative effort involving the collegiate success coordinator, the Registrar, academic advisors, admissions, and academic departments.

“CSU: Connect, Continue, Complete”
o Annual event launched in Spring 2010 to reach out to students who had earned 90 or more credits toward a degree and had not graduated.
o One-stop shopping that connects students with important campus resources to help them explore options for completing their degree.
o Resources include CSU’s Center for Advising and Student Achievement, Student Financial Services, the Registrar’s office and Adult Learner and Veterans Services.
o Seven students graduated as a result of the outreach. About 20 students attended the event – six of the students returned to campus. Of those six, one has graduated and two are slated to graduate in January.

The Bernard Osher Re-entry Scholarship
o The Bernard Osher Foundation awarded Colorado State a $50,000 grant in Spring 2008 for full-tuition scholarships for adult learners who had been working for at least five years toward their first undergraduate degree.
o In 2010, the foundation created a $1 million endowment to fund the Osher Reentry Scholarship program for decades to come.
o Eighteen students have graduated since the first grant was awarded. Eligible students must be ages 25 to 50, have at least 60 credits that apply toward a bachelor’s degree and have been working toward earning that degree for at least five years.

Ram Graduation Award
o A modest award to encourage students very close to graduation to return and complete their degrees.
o Students identified for the award must be able to graduate within one semester, have left within six years of starting as a new freshman and have high financial need.

Educational Opportunity Center
o Colorado State is the host institution for a federally funded Educational Opportunity Center, which offers free career exploration and academic advising services for adults 19 and older in Adams, Larimer and Weld counties to assist them in entering or returning to educational programs.
o Students must have yet to complete their undergraduate degree, be first-generation college students and/or meet low-income guidelines.
o So far this year, the Colorado State EOC has helped more than 2,800 people with these services.

Adult Learner and Veteran Services
o Eases the transition to being back on campus and offers a lounge in the Lory Student Center for nontraditional students to use while on campus.
o Facilitates connections to campus resources that support their academic success.

For more information, contact Siri Newman, collegiate success coordinator, at (970) 491-7095 or e-mail