Maryville College receives $2.25 million grant to support low-income students

Maryville College has received a $2.25 million grant from the Department of Education, President Coker announced during Founder’s Day celebrations. 

According to the Department of Education, The Title III Strengthening Institutions Program grant “…helps eligible [Institutions of Higher Education] to become self-sufficient and expand their capacity to serve low-income students by providing funds to improve and strengthen the academic quality, institutional management and fiscal stability of eligible institutions.”

Maryville College qualified for the Title III grant due to its high percentage of economically disadvantaged students. Dr. Heather McMahon, Assistant Dean for Academic Success, said, “Almost 40% of our students are Pell-eligible. A Pell grant is a scholarship provided by the federal government to students who demonstrate ‘exceptional financial need.’”

“The grant is $2.5 million over five years. The purpose of the grant is to help Maryville College build capacity—it’s sort of like seed money to start something new,” said McMahon. 

Part of President Coker’s plans for the grant includes “building an IDEAL Community Project.” “IDEAL” stands for inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible learning. The goal, McMahon said, is to improve student outcomes. 

“In this case, MC used our own data about student success to identify gaps. We found that some students tend to graduate at lower rates than others—in particular, black men and students with high financial need graduate at lower rates, so we knew we wanted to apply for a grant that would help us address those achievement gaps,” McMahon said.

The grant funding will be used to address two main issues: student support and better usage of data. New staff hires will be made in the areas of advising, academic support and DEI training. It will also include a new staff member in institutional research and instructional technology.

A long-term goal of the grant, which will be distributed incrementally to Maryville College until 2028, is to streamline student services so that “students who have questions can get quick and easy answers through a ‘one-stop shop,’ likely on the first floor of Fayerweather,” said McMahon. This “one-stop shop” will be called Scots GPS (Getting Personalized Support).

Other uses of the grant will include creating a summer transition program for first-year students, molding the onboarding experience into something that helps to build academic skills, as well as additional training for staff and faculty advisors.

While the grant will focus primarily on retention and graduation rates of black and low-income students, the additional training, streamlined Scots GPS and re-vamped first-year experience will be something all students can look forward to. “We are excited that the grant will benefit all students,” McMahon said.

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