Feature Articles

Emergency Grants Make a Difference

March 04, 2016 | Conor Smyth

What does it take to help a person succeed in college and launch a great career? As it turns out, sometimes it’s only a matter of a few dollars.

In 2012, Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation created the $1.5 million Emergency Grant Assistance program to help low-income, Wisconsin technical college students at risk of dropping out due to unforeseen financial emergencies.

Great Lakes’ recent report highlights the significant impact the one-time grants – an average of only $500 – had on the proportion of technical college students who stayed enrolled or graduated. As Wisconsin employers address significant demographic challenges resulting from the state’s rapidly aging population, the technical colleges are increasingly engaging partners – like Great Lakes – in efforts to assure student success.

Many are crediting Great Lakes’ effort and experience with potentially leveraging public investment. Companion bills currently being deliberated by the Wisconsin Legislature would provide $450,000 annually to expand support for at-risk students attending Wisconsin's public two-year colleges (including technical colleges and University of Wisconsin Colleges).

The legislation has moved quickly and is widely expected to be signed by the Governor prior to the end of the current legislative session.