From the desk of Senator Joyce Waddell

Higher Education Completion Grants

Joyce Waddell

CHARLOTTE, NC - The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) since 2006, has implemented a “49ers Finish Program” for students who have attained at least 90 credit hours. The Gold Rush Grant is offered by invitation only to selected students who are within two semesters of graduating from UNC-Charlotte and have demonstrated financial need during their senior year.

The program seeks to mitigate barriers to timely graduation of one-time completion grants of $1,500. Recipients must participate in two activities to support their success after college. These activities include a degree-completion plan, resume review, career workshops, and online financial literacy training module.

UNC-Charlotte surveys its students to determine short- and medium-term effects of the Gold Rush Grant. It is working with the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) and nine other institutions in U.S. Department of Education grant. UNC-Charlotte will also learn more about the effectiveness of its messaging, its cost per participant, and its cost effectiveness. Senator Joyce Waddell, as an appointed member of the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee, reviews reports from higher education programs and grants to evaluate the students being impacted from benefits in order to measure student success outcomes upon graduation.

The university scans its records to find these former students, reaches out through postcards, offers a customized website, waives the application fee, and offers a special academic concierge program that supports students as they interface with departments on campus. Nine hundred non-completers have graduated from this program since its inception in 2006. These students are specifically recognized by the Chancellor at UNC-Charlotte graduation ceremonies. Now, UNC Charlotte seeks to extend the program to students in the Charlotte area who started at other institutions. This effort is sure to be well-received by employers in the Charlotte region’s industries that increasingly require high-skill workers as they grow.

“Increasing efforts to help students who have already dropped out return to campus for degree completion is important for expanding the workforce across North Carolina.” Said Senator Joyce Waddell “There needs to be a continued collaborative approach in ensuring that higher education institutions commits to increasing retention, graduation, and overall success for all students.”