Colorado State University recently received a $377,282 grant to help students succeed. The grant to CSU’s Academic Advancement Center marks 34 years of continuous competitive funding from the U.S. Department of Education for excellent services. The center helps students who are low-income, first-generation or disabled transition into academic life and succeed at the university.
The Academic Advancement Center promotes student retention and graduation rates through tutoring, advising, and connecting students to resources including financial aid and Pell Grants, financial counseling and economic literacy, and peer mentoring as well as major and career counseling. The center also encourages students to become involved in organizations at CSU to build leadership skills and contributes to the Fostering Success program. Students who age out of the foster care system or who are homeless can access a wide range of resources they need to succeed through this program.
CSU’s funding was one of 1,021 continuation awards given by the Department of Education to universities across the nation as part of a total $2.5 million commitment that supports 202,750 students overall. At CSU, the grant has helped more than 6,500 students since 1978 and currently serves 275 students per year.
“We get to know each student personally,” said Andrea Reeve, director for the center. “We are their guide through their academic careers, and we hold them accountable to their goals and to the opportunity to achieve a degree. Our services are for students who have academic need for program services and meet low-income, first-generation or disability status. We provide them with study skills, help them meet their academic goals, budget their personal finances, refer them to services, and help them address issues and juggle demands that first-generation and low-income students face.”
Some services provided by the center are mandated by Congress. Two-thirds of the students who qualify must come from families with incomes at 150 percent or less of the federal poverty level where neither parent has graduated from college, or the student is living with a disability.
“The Academic Advancement Center has a long, successful history of providing support and helping students be successful at CSU,” said Blanche Hughes, vice president for Student Affairs. “The dedicated staff are passionate about our students and helping them optimize their time at CSU. Their dedication is the reason that the office has been so successful over the years."
According to the Council for Opportunity in Education, only 38 percent of low-income high school seniors go straight to college, compared to 81 percent of their peers with the highest incomes. Once enrolled, low-income students graduate at less than half the rate of those peers.
The U. S. Department of Education grant is the primary source of funding for the CSU Academic Advancement Center. Additional support is provided by the university’s Division of Student Affairs to supplement expenses not allowed by the federal grant. Student Financial Services provides matching funds for several supplemental grant awards to the lowest income first-year participants.