U of Louisiana-Lafayette works to retain low-income students

November 10, 2018

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is adapting a program designed to keep athletes in school to ensure that academically accomplished lower-income students don’t drop out.

The university’s Louisiana Educate pilot program began this semester with 43 freshmen from New Orleans.

The original goal was to start with 24, but more than 100 applied, Dr. DeWayne Bowie, the university’s vice president for enrollment management, said in a news release. “The hope going forward is to enroll between 80 and 100 students in the program each fall,” he said. He also hopes to expand it at some point to other parts of the state.

Students get work-study jobs on campus and must attend at least six hours of study hall each week. They also all live in one residence hall and must complete internships, join two student organizations, and attend four on-campus or university-related events each semester.

Civil engineering major Anthony Jupiter, 19, said he likes many aspects of the program, and finds the study hall requirement is a big help.

“I might not attend as often if it wasn’t mandatory,” he said.

Academic coach and Louisiana Educate coordinator Rachel Sam meets weekly with students to gauge their progress and provide guidance, from tips about time management to information about campus services.

“We want to do as much as we can to put them in a position to succeed,” she said.

Bowie said students having a hard time meeting requirements are counseled. “Those who can’t get back on track ultimately won’t be able to stay in the program. They will, however, be able to remain enrolled at the University provided they meet continuation requirements.”

Bowie said planning began last November, when donors from New Orleans proposed a partnership. They were motivated in part by Louisiana-Lafayette’s “reputation for promoting social mobility,” he said.

Last year, the Brookings Institution ranked Louisiana-Lafayette among the 10 public research universities with the most low-income students out of 342 public universities with selective admissions. Brookings used information from Stanford University’s Equality of Opportunity Project to gauge whether schools boosted social mobility, and factored in research rankings by the Carnegie Foundation.

Private gifts, institutional grants and federal and state financial aid are combined in the Louisiana Education Program. Students must qualify for Louisiana’s college tuition program, which covers $2,700 to $3,100 a semester, and for federal Pell Grants. They also must take out the highest student loans for which they qualify.

Students cannot take off-campus jobs. “We want to make sure they’re fully engaged. They are monitored closely with, for lack of a better word, intrusive attention,” Bowie said.

All contents © copyright 2019 The Associated Press.All rights reserved.