Mar 222009
Authors: Emily Johnson

In response to a growing number of upperclassmen dropping out of school to pay their bills, CSU’s Advancement and Strategic Initiative started the Student Support Grant to give students a financial boost to complete their education.

Leaders of ASI said there are numerous scenarios that force students to drop out – some need to work to pay for classes or bills, others’ parents have lost their jobs – and that the new “emergency fund” will help many to combat the effects of these scenarios and finish their degrees.

“The value of a college education is more important than ever, but for many students who are facing financial hardships, the dream of a CSU degree is suddenly in jeopardy,” said Joyce Berry, vice president of CSU’s Advancement and Strategic Initiatives.

The new grant, created this year, will help qualifying students in need once per year. Preference will be given to Colorado residents who are seeking a degree. Other requirements are that:

A student is enrolled at least half-time

Carries a 2.0 grade average

Must have applied for financial aid.

There is no application deadline and any student who has a need for the grant can go to the ASI office located in the Department of Business and Financial Services or call (970) 491-3403 to apply.

Individual grants will rarely exceed $2000 per year and it usually takes less than $1000 to help a student finish a degree. Money for the grants is provided entirely by donations from private businesses and individuals to ASI.

The creation of the Student Support Grant was spurred by several CSU seniors’ stories.

Emily, whose last name and major were not disclosed because of the university confidentiality policy, was only six credits from completing her Bachelor’s degree but had exhausted her financial resources. Suddenly, her goal dropped out of sight.

However, with a grant of just $500 from CSU, Emily was able to pay for her classes and she is graduating in May.

The difference between a lifetime income of a high school graduate and a college graduate is twice as much.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in a lifetime high school graduates earn $1.2 million; Associates degrees earn $1.6 million and Bachelor’s degree grads earn $2.1 million.

According to the Carnegie Foundation, research shows that college attendance increases job security, enhances social status, creates awareness of world affairs, promotes tolerance and improves the health of graduates and their families.

“Helping these students is not only beneficial to them, but, in the long run, creates a better and stronger society,” Berry said.

“Today is more critical than ever that we give a hand where needed, for the good of us all.”

Through this grant, CSU is committed to producing the next generation of leaders.

“Students are CSU’s most important resource, and we want to do everything possible to make sure every student has the opportunity to finish his or her degree,” Berry said.

Other employees within the enrollment department at CSU said there is no limit to the benefits donations will yield.

“A gift of any amount at a critical time can keep a student from abandoning her or his dream of a college education,” said Robin Brown, vice president for Enrollment and Access at CSU.

Since its creation, ASI has received several hundred dollars and dozens of applications from students, grant organizers said.

Applications already submitted are up for review this week and grants will be distributed on a case-by-case basis, as long as there are funds available.

Donations can be made to CSU’s Advancement and Strategic Initiatives. For more information, call (970) 491-3403.

Staff writer Emily Johnson can be reached at

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