Person writing at a communal desk

Great Lakes Commits $2.6 Million to Keep At-Risk Near-Completers on Track to Graduation

14 Colleges Will Launch Interventions to Help Seniors Overcome Obstacles and Earn Degrees

—Each year, students who are just a few semesters away from graduation end up dropping courses, withdrawing from academic programs and stopping out. Near-completers who drop out at the highest rate are low-income students and students of color. While colleges and universities often direct success efforts toward students early in their academic careers, there's an equally important need to address the challenges faced by at-risk students approaching the finish line, such as increasing textbook and supply costs, class scheduling conflicts or maxing out financial aid.

Those who fall short of graduation not only lack qualifications to meet employer needs, but without the earning power a credential or degree can provide, they often struggle with debt repayment. This issue is magnified when students abandon academic programs that lead to high-demand careers—positions remain unfilled, and employers and the economy both take a loss.

Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates created its new College Completion Grant as an opportunity for colleges and universities to focus on at-risk students nearing completion, and explore ways to help them stay on track to graduation. Applicants were invited to research and identify institutional barriers and personal obstacles that prevent near-completers from earning degrees in high-demand career fields. Then they proposed an array of tactics to address these issues.

Fourteen two- and four-year colleges had standout applications and have been awarded a combined $2.6 million in College Completion Grants. Great Lakes funds will support the planning, launch and implementation of interventions at each college from January 2017 to July 2019. The colleges will serve a combined 7,000 students who have completed at least 75 percent of their program's requirements in high-demand areas such as nursing, information technology and business.

"We are impressed that our grant recipients critically analyzed their institutional data and then proposed comprehensive plans to help struggling students cross the finish line and begin careers in high-demand fields," said Richard D. George, President and Chief Executive Officer of Great Lakes. "Given our philanthropic focus on advancing completion, we're interested to see how these plans can positively impact graduation rates for low-income students, first-generation students and students of color."

While each college developed strategies to target completion rate gaps between their underserved students and their general student population, there were common themes to the types of work that will be done over the next two and a half years. Activities to boost college completion will include:

  • Addressing scheduling conflicts. Colleges will optimize course sequencing and scheduling to make required classes available at the right times.
  • Improving academic performance. Expanded tutoring will support students in advanced-level classes. Supplemental instruction will help students succeed in courses with historically low pass rates.
  • Providing proactive advising. Advisors will regularly connect with students to identify areas of need (e.g., general education requirements, career planning advice), refer them to support services, and develop personalized completion plans.
  • Offering additional financial support. Small grants will help students overcome unexpected emergencies, or close the gap between financial aid and college costs.

Meet our 2017-2019 College Completion Grant Recipients »

News Releases

Great Lakes Funding Development of Online Support Community for College Freshman Women

Great Lakes Shares Lessons Learned from Summer Melt Texting Initiative

Great Lakes Awards $525,000 in Anniversary Grants in Nine Communities Where Employees Live and Work

Completion Grants Remove an Obstacle for At-Risk Students Nearing Graduation

New Initiative Connects Remediation Reforms and Guided Pathways to Boost Student Success

Great Lakes Awards $1,000 Scholarships to 200 Ohio Apprentices with Financial Need

Great Lakes Awards $7.2 Million to Launch Emergency Grant Programs at Four-Year Colleges

Great Lakes Sparking Change in Scholarship Delivery

Montana Guaranteed Student Loan Program to Transfer Portfolio to Great Lakes

Statement from Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates Regarding Student Loan Collection Fee Policies

200 Wisconsin Apprentices with Financial Need Awarded $1,000 Scholarships from Great Lakes

Great Lakes Releases 2016 Philanthropy Report Highlighting $21.9 Million in Grants Awarded

Great Lakes Invites Four-Year Colleges to Apply for Successful Emergency Grant Program

USA Funds Transfers Ownership of Nation's Largest Guarantor to Great Lakes

Great Lakes Commits $2.1 Million to Help 16 Community Colleges Create Internship Programs for Low-Income Students

Great Lakes Commits $2.6 Million to Keep At-Risk Near-Completers on Track to Graduation

Blackhawk Technical College Students Borrow $700,000 Less, Regain Financial Aid Eligibility

Achieving the Dream to Enhance Coaching Services with $1 Million Great Lakes Grant

Great Lakes National Scholarship Awards Over $2 Million to Support College Access

Great Lakes Awards $1.5 Million to CCRC to Support Guided Pathways Reform in Ohio

Successful 'New Mathways Project' Expands into Arkansas to Increase Math Achievement

Great Lakes Career Ready Internship Grant Opportunity Now Open to
Two-Year Colleges


Study on Student-Faculty Interactions Finds Multi-Channel Communication is Key

Great Lakes Shares Lessons Learned from 2014-2015 Career Ready Internship Grant Partners

New Great Lakes Grant Opportunity Invites Applicants to Address Barriers Preventing Near-Completers from Earning Degrees

Student Loans of North Dakota to Transfer Portfolio to Great Lakes

Great Lakes Releases 2015 Philanthropy Report Detailing $28.5 Million in Commitments

200 Wisconsin Construction and Industrial Trade Apprentices Receive $1,000 Scholarships

Great Lakes Shares Best Practices from Three-Year Emergency Grant Program

Application Period for Great Lakes National Scholarship Begins February 15

Great Lakes Funds New Emergency Grants Shown to Boost Community and Technical College Completion

University of Pittsburgh Streamlines Private Student Loan Processing, Improves Student Service

Great Lakes' Free Tool Adds Early Engagement Outreach Campaigns for Schools

Great Lakes' Commitment to Producing More Undergraduate STEM Degrees Now Reaches $10.7 Million

Great Lakes Launches Updated Education Philanthropy Website

Great Lakes Commits Record $12 Million to Fund 7,000 New Paid Internships for College Students with Financial Need

Great Lakes CEO Accepts White House Invitation to Join the College Promise Campaign Advisory Board

200 Wisconsin Apprentices Will Earn $1,000 Scholarships to Purchase Tools for Their Trades

400 MPS Grads Eligible for $5 Million in College Scholarships from The Degree Project®

Great Lakes Introduces Newly Expanded Program to Increase Community College Graduation

Great Lakes Shares Results of Applicant and Grantee Perception Survey

100 Schools Using Great Lakes' Free Outreach Tool to Help Students by Connecting Them with Their Servicer

Great Lakes Commits $28.6 Million During 2014 to Promote College Access and Completion

Great Lakes Expands Grants for Colleges Committed to Making Internships More Equitable

Great Lakes Commits $4.2 Million to Prepare More Students for College Math & English

Great Lakes' Free Tool Helps Schools Improve Repayment Success for All Their Student Loan Borrowers