Florida Atlantic University has made an effort to decrease the number of students dropping out due to financial issues, found the Hechinger Report. The students who have dropped out from the school between freshman and sophomore year has decreased from 25 percent to 18 percent found the report. The administration has implemented resources to intervene in situations when a student is at risk of discontinuing their education.
According to the Hechinger Report, half of the FAU Black and Hispanic student population comes from low income families. The administration had taken a look into how to resolve this issue by realizing the the faults of the institution.
From Hechinger Report:
Problems with low success rates are widespread in American higher education. At public universities in general, only about 40 percent of students graduate within four years, the most recent federal figures show; at all universities and colleges, just 45 percent.
More than a quarter of students dropped out between their first and second years in college in 2020, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center — the highest level in nearly a decade. At community colleges, nearly half the students quit after their first year.
“That doesn’t make sense, from a moral perspective, an economic perspective — from any perspective,” said Susan Mayer, chief learning officer at Achieving the Dream, which works with more than 300 community colleges to improve completion.
FAU created a series of “interventions” to help students stay on track, according to Hechinger Report. The school created more financial aid opportunities by creating scholarships, doubled the number of on-campus student jobs, and began a conference for academic success which saved 79 students from dropping out.
The Hechinger Report profiled two students of color who benefited from these initiatives. Hasan Dickinson, 18, had been at risk of losing housing and financial aid because he had been paying his way himself upon leaving foster care. An FAU “retention specialist” helped him stay in school by tracking down grants and scholarships to help him continue living on campus.
Huguette St Hubert, freshman, also faced hurdles while applying into the school but said she was supported by advocates early on who directed her to the necessary resources for financial aid as well as the career center. Often, hurdles are just a variety of administrative policies that makes staying in school difficult for students.
From Hechinger Report:
Administrators found lots of red tape that was causing more trouble than it was worth. There were endless “administrative holds” that blocked progress — for example, stopping students from registering for courses if they fell behind by even a negligible amount on their payments to the university. “A hold would be placed, and then another hold,” Capp said.
Those kinds of obstacles get in the way of students everywhere, said Yolanda Watson Spiva, president of the advocacy organization Complete College America. “There are all of these long-held practices,” Watson Spiva said. For example, “‘If you lose a key we charge you penalties plus interest and you can’t get your transcript.’ A lot of institutions are realizing these policies are dumb.”
More universities should follow in the steps of FAU. Students often go into the enrollment process by themselves or have to go on treasure hunts to find resources useful to their academic success. Not only should those resources be made readily available but staff should continue directing students to where they can find the support they need.