Student Success for All: Support for Low-Income Students at an Urban Public University
Although federal financial aid has increased in recent years, the costs of college tuition and living expenses have increased even more, leaving larger numbers of students with unmet need. Restructuring of financial aid, however, is insufficient to address the problem of diverging attainment gaps between low-income students and their more advantaged peers. Low-income students share patterns and traits that put them at greater risk of dropping out of college. In response, the Lumina Foundation published the report Beyond Financial Aid, which identifies six strategies for supporting low-income students, offers examples of how those strategies may be implemented, and provides an institutional self-assessment tool. At Metropolitan State University of Denver, a cross-functional team of faculty and staff at MSU Denver gained considerable insight by using and discussing the Beyond Financial Aid assessment tool. The action plan that emerged from the team’s work consists of five goals: Take advantage of easy wins; use data to know our low-income students; increase broad-based support for low-income students; foster culture change; and enhance financial literacy. Additionally, MSU Denver has leveraged partnerships to strengthen support for its low-income students as a natural extension of the University’s regional stewardship mission.
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