Missouri S&T is part of a new national effort by land-grant universities to increase college access, close the achievement gap and award hundreds of thousands more degrees by 2025.
The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) is organizing the collaborative effort, known as Powered by Publics: Scaling Student Success. APLU announced the initiative Sunday (Nov. 11, 2018) during its 131st Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana.
About 130 public universities and systems will work within groups of four to 12 institutions as they implement practices to advance student success on their campuses. Collectively, the institutions enroll 3 million students, including 1 million students who receive Pell Grants.
APLU says Powered by Publics represents the largest ever collaborative effort to improve college access, advance equity and increase college degrees awarded. In addition to committing to those goals, participating institutions have pledged to share aggregate data demonstrating their progress to help spur lasting change across the higher education sector.
“Missouri S&T is committed to helping more students access our institution and earn a college degree in less time,” says interim Chancellor Christopher G. Maples. “We’re taking steps to make a degree more attainable – from removing the application fee to ‘finish line’ scholarships, covering expenses for students on the cusp of completing a degree.”
As one effort to increase student success, Missouri S&T recently waived the university’s application fee through Dec. 1, 2018, for admission next fall. The fee can pose as a barrier for economically challenged students and discourage them from applying.
In addition, S&T’s new “finish line” scholarships will target students close to earning a degree by helping with tuition, rent or other expenses. The “full load to finish” scholarships will help Pell-eligible and near- Pell-eligible students taking 14 credit hours. The scholarship will allow them to take two additional credit hours for free, helping students graduate sooner than if they were taking fewer than 16 hours a semester.
By joining this national collaborative, Missouri S&T leaders hope to expand on these initiatives and share data on the progress with similar institutions.
“Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed a real and growing enthusiasm among public university leaders to advance college completion nationally,” says Peter McPherson, APLU president. “We have to seize the moment and mobilize institutions to improve not just college access, but also equity in student outcomes and the number of students who earn degrees. That’s what Powered by Publics is all about and why we’re thrilled to work with our member institutions toward such an important national goal.”
By design, the participating institutions reflect a wide array of institutional characteristics such as enrollment, student demographics, regional workforce needs and selectivity. The broad diversity of the institutions is intended to help create a playbook of adaptable student success reforms that can be adopted and scaled up across a variety of institution types, including those with limited resources.
The clusters have identified anticipated focus areas for their work. One cluster, for example, expects to work collaboratively to integrate data collection systems across each of their campuses to better monitor student progress and make data-informed decisions. Another cluster expects to tackle financial aid and student financial literacy, while a separate cluster is planning to work to integrate career advising early into a student’s academic journey to both speed students’ path to a degree and better prepare them for the workforce.
The effort will be overseen by APLU’s Center for Public University Transformation, which the association created this year to help drive transformational change across the public higher education sector. A core value of the center and its participating institutions will be rooted in a commitment to sharing data and innovative, successful practices to help drive progress across the entire sector of public higher education. The center will regularly disseminate lessons learned from the participating institutions to the broader public higher education community.
A national advisory council of respected higher education thought leaders will provide a strategic vision and guidance for the center, which will work to build upon and complement existing initiatives around institutional change and student success.