The University of Missouri–St. Louis has made concerted efforts to close existing degree completion gaps and help students, regardless of their economic backgrounds, shape their futures through education.
In recent years, the university has been recognized as a state leader providing financial aid to upperclassmen so costs – and the fear of debt – don’t prevent students from reaching the commencement stage.
It’s only fitting then that the university would be invited to join Degrees When Due, an Institute for Higher Education Policy national initiative that helps students who have some college credits complete their degrees.
As one of the colleges and universities from twenty states participating in Degrees When Due, UMSL will learn best practices in degree reclamation and provide targeted support while re-engaging students who have not completed their studies.
“There are too many students across our state who start college but do not finish to reap the economic benefits that a college degree offers,” said Alan Byrd, UMSL’s vice provost of enrollment management. “It is important that we find ways to re-engage these students. Being part of this initiative will enhance our ability to serve them, so they can advance their careers with a college degree, and at the same time, strengthen our community.”
Degrees When Due will grant UMSL access to a variety of resources to help more students complete their degrees and to help the institution audit students’ previously earned and transfer credits to determine the most efficient path to graduation. Data shows there are more than 75,000 people in Missouri with some college coursework but no degree that could benefit from this initiative.
“Our Degrees When Due institutional and state partners are building a strong pathway to degree attainment for all students, including by providing an on-ramp for those who have paused their studies or ‘stopped-out,’” IHEP President Michelle Asha Cooper said. “IHEP enthusiastically welcomes the selected institutions and states to this effort. Through this initiative, they will increase student success, serve a diverse set of student populations and join us in addressing one of higher education’s most pressing challenges: degree completion.”
Byrd appreciates how IHEP’s vision aligns with UMSL’s mission as an institution of higher education.
“Access and success are two of our core values,” he said. “We want to do whatever possible to help students shape their futures and eliminate the barriers that keep them from reaching their full potential.”