Published: March 7, 2016

Foundations reinforce MSU student success initiative

Contact(s): Kim Ward Communication and Brand Strategy office: (517) 432-0117 cell: (734) 658-4250

Michigan State University and 10 partner institutions of the University Innovation Alliance will apply $3.85 million in new funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation and USA Funds to further support student success programs.

The funding will support the ongoing collaborative efforts between the universities to graduate more students across the socioeconomic spectrum. MSU’s six-year graduation rate of 79 percent already exceeds its predicted range, but leadership will use the additional UIA funding to continue to improve on graduation rates and promote social mobility.

Specifically, MSU will use the funds to continue bringing academic, health, career and other support services into campus residential neighborhoods to provide timely support to students. Initial efforts are paying off, with the university already seeing fewer students placed on academic probation after their first semester, which is a reliable indicator of timely graduation.

In addition, MSU is developing a system using predictive analytics to quickly deploy services and interventions to struggling students. Faculty and advisers will develop “success markers” to understand when students are on track for graduation. Advisers will work with students who veer off track to help them succeed.

As part of the UIA’s $8.9 million First in the World Grant from the U.S. Department of Education, MSU will pilot an intensive degree mapping and advising pilot program with 450 randomly selected low-income, first-generation college students who enter in fall 2016. This national study will involve 10,000 students across the UIA in a comparison of the degree mapping and advising group with their peers.

“As we’ve worked to support success for all students, the achievement gap in American higher education has been a stubborn concern,” MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said. “That’s why we joined peer institutions to develop and share evidence-based solutions, and it is gratifying that these are showing promise enough for these funders to support.”

Although estimates suggest the nation will face a shortage of 5 million college graduates by 2020, college enrollment numbers are declining. In 2014, the group set a public goal to graduate an additional 68,000 students over the next decade. According to an updated forecast, UIA members are now on track to graduate nearly 100,000 additional students during that time.

About the University Innovation Alliance

Founded in 2014, the UIA is committed to four objectives: producing more graduates, graduating more students across the socioeconomic spectrum, sharing data and innovating together. Thanks in part to the increased focus on these issues at UIA campuses, member institutions are already experiencing improvements in student outcomes.

The UIA’s members are MSU, Arizona State University, Georgia State University, Iowa State University, Oregon State University, Purdue University, The Ohio State University, University of California, Riverside University of Central Florida, University of Kansas and University of Texas at Austin.

With the latest investment, the UIA has been awarded $18.45 million in total funds, including support from the the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Lumina Foundation, the Markle Foundation, USA Funds and the U.S. Department of Education.

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