April 19, 2016

CSU receives grant to fund Last Mile program

Cleveland State University was one of nine universities across the country to take a step in March, toward helping low-income students finish college.

Through the help of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU), CSU received a $50,000 pilot grant (a test to pilot the program) to create the Last Mile program.

The Last Mile program, an extension of CSU’s Radiance program, was created to provide necessary funds to seniors who had used all of their financial aid. The new funds will aid in helping these students complete their degrees by covering direct costs.

“In the financial aid world, direct cost is tuition and fees,” said Financial Aid Director Rachel Schmidt.

CSU’s pre-existing Radiance Scholars program targets supporting low income individuals to attend and complete college. Since it started in 2011, the Radiance Scholars program has raised more than $3.7 million to support its scholarships, which have helped more than 1,100 students to stay on track for graduation.

The Last Mile program will specifically target and serve seniors and will be based on financial need. The two-year grant will help the university create a formal structure for seniors.

“The funding will come from the university,” Schmidt said. “But the oversight and the management and the reporting of the Last Mile will be done through the $50,000 over the two years that we are participating in this program.”

Dr. Peter Meiksins, vice provost for Academic Programs, Heike Heinrich, director of Student Success Programs, and Cindy Skaruppa, vice president for Enrollment Services, Financial Aid, and the University Registrar collaborated to apply for the grant to launch the Last Mile program.

The money granted to students through the program will cover direct costs, like tuition and fees, and unmet financial needs. The funds are meant to help students who are only one to two semesters from graduation and have exhausted all of their resources.

“By exhausted, I mean let’s say you only have x-dollars available and you only need $500 more to make that gap,” Schmidt explained. “That student would be a very good candidate to apply.”

The application is available online. To apply, students must be undergraduate students who only have one to two semesters left, a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen, good academic standing, a FAFSA on file, and unmet financial need toward their direct cost.

If a student applies and qualifies, they can receive up to $1,200 per semester for a maximum of two semesters.

Qualifications and the application for the Last Mile program may be modified as CSU moves forward with the program. The first recipients will receive their funds in fall 2016.

“I hope and think that students who may feel like ‘Oh no, how am I going to do this to pay for my last semester? (I’m) so close,’” Schmidt said. “Now we have a tool for them. I think that this will be a wonderful resource or avenue for students who might feel like ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. I don’t have enough money and I only have one semester.’ And so I’m hopeful that this will just be the sort of stepstool over the last hump to get there.”

Students can apply online at www.csuohio.edu/financial-aid/last-mile-grant.


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CSU receives grant to fund Last Mile program


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