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The US Department of Education have announced $5 million in new student success funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) such as Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs).  The ‘College Completion Fund’ initiative aims to improve student retention and completion rates for minority students. 

The grant will award a maximum of $1 million to institutions to fund projects aimed at improving student success and assisting students in course completion.

A press release from the Department of Education indicated the grants are to support minority-serving institutions to invest in data-driven and evidence-based reforms. It also indicated that institutions are encouraged to focus on supporting existing students who are close to graduation and reengaging students who withdrew from school temporarily during the pandemic. The Department also announced its plans to extend its ‘Project Success’ initiative, which provides resources and support to HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs to help improve student outcomes.  

Student doing research in the library for his studies and to ensure student success funding.

Falling Retention Rates in the US 

This announcement comes after US colleges experienced an unprecedented drop in student retention since the beginning of the Covid-19 Pandemic. The worst impact was on Community Colleges, with a 2-3% decline in student persistence and retention. The release of new student success funding highlights the importance of investment into student success projects. Often the main challenge for HEIs in improving retention rates, is being aware of which students are struggling in order to offer them support. Many students who are struggling are not flagged to staff before the situation has escalated significantly or they have already dropped out.  

Modern technology has aided the creation of student success software which improve student retention and completion rates at University. Using attendance tracking software along with learning engagement analytics gives HEIs the insight into student progression and welfare that will help to keep them on course to graduation.

Solutions that offer an early alert to staff when students begin disengaging from their course are the most effective in improving student outcomes. Combined with student case management software it is the best solution to getting students back on track. Case management progresses identified, at-risk students through custom workflow stages and continuously updates staff on their position. Thanks to EdTech innovation, improving student success outcomes has never been easier. 

For more: See how Solent University improved student retention by more than 14% here.