MnSCU awarded grant to encourage former students to re-enroll and earn degrees

Posted: September 29, 2010

Contact: Doug Anderson, doug.anderson@so.mnscu.edu, 651-201-1426

Grant aimed at helping to meet the growing need for college-educated workers

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Foundation has received an $800,000 grant to encourage former students to re-enroll and complete their two- or four-year degrees as part of a new program to raise college completion rates in Minnesota.

The grant from the Lumina Foundation for Education will fund the Returning Adults to Progress in Degree Completion Program, also known as RAPID Completion. The four-year grant enables the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system to conduct a statewide outreach campaign that will offer information on how students can complete degrees in a timely manner. Options include taking online courses, enrolling in accelerated programs with flexible start dates and receiving course credits for work experience.

“Minnesota must leverage the talent of its working-age adults who have some college but no degree,” said Chancellor James H. McCormick. “We want our former students to know that our 32 colleges and universities stand ready to help them complete their degrees. By doing so, they are very likely to raise their standard of living. And the state’s employers will have the educated workers they need in the coming decades.”

About 160,000 former students who attended a system college or university in the last 10 years and already have 15 or more college credits have been identified through system records.

“While we welcome back all former students, we recognize that some find it particularly challenging to complete their college degrees,” McCormick said. “That’s why this program will focus on helping dislocated workers, veterans and other adults who face situational barriers, such as family responsibilities or difficult work schedules, complete degrees.

John Schweers, chair of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Foundation Board, said: “This grant will expand the capacity of the system’s institutions to better serve adult learners. We’re pleased to join with the Lumina Foundation in its drive to increase college completion rates.”

The Lumina Foundation’s goal is to increase the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees or credentials to 60 percent by 2025 from the current 40 percent. “Given demographic trends and attainment rates among young adults, it is highly unlikely that the nation can meet its growing need for college-educated workers by continuing to focus primarily on recent high school graduates,” said James Merisotis, Lumina’s president and chief executive officer.

Currently, about 45 percent of Minnesota’s adults have college degrees. A recent study by Georgetown University researchers predicted that 70 percent of the jobs in Minnesota will require postsecondary education in the next decade or so.

In light of these issues, Lumina Foundation also awarded 18 other grants to assist adult learners with college credits in finishing their degrees. Based in Indianapolis, Lumina Foundation is a private, independent foundation that strives to help people achieve their potential by expanding access to and success in education beyond high school.