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CSU’s (Re)Connect to College Program Receives Boost from APLU and USU

Cleveland State University’s efforts to help individuals who have “stopped out” of college finish their degrees has received a boost from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU). CSU has received a $50,000 renewal grant for its (Re)Connect to College program that was developed in partnership with College Now Greater Cleveland.

Now in its second year, the program works to identify individuals who have “stopped out” of college and help them address their financial and academic needs so they can return to school and complete their degrees. Students are also provided with follow-up support to ensure that they are successful upon returning to college.

The renewal grant is one of four awarded to public institutions across the country to advance university-community partnerships as a means to boost student success. The awards, known as Collaborative Opportunity Grants, support innovative approaches that link student success with an institution’s community engagement.

“This grant will allow us to work with College Now to identify and re-enroll stop-out students, and support them on their journey to obtaining a college degree,” notes Peter Meiksins, vice provost for academic programs at CSU.

“During our first year, we have already brought back 230 stop-out students, more than a dozen of whom have already earned degrees. An important part of the second year of the program will be an effort to work with area employers to identify even more students who need help in returning to college to complete their degrees. We appreciate the support of the APLU and USU in this important endeavor.”

As part of the (Re)Connect to College program, College Now advisors reach out to students who have stopped out, identify the issues that led to them leaving school, and then work to assist them in addressing those challenges. Students are then referred to the CSU Transfer Center where they will receive help in addressing academic issues and mapping out a path to a degree.

The effort builds on CSU’s award-winning student success programs, which have helped reduce the cost of earning an undergraduate degree by more than $3,000 annually and assisted in increasing graduation rates by 60 percent over the last five years. In honor of these accomplishments, CSU was awarded a 2015 Excellence and Innovation Award by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).