Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Staying on Track: Retaining Low-Income Students

Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Staying on Track: Retaining Low-Income Students

Article excerpt

A new study based on a program at the University of New Mexico (UNM) has been found to retain more low-income students by promoting an increase in the amount of credits earned per semester. The program is entitled VISTA (Vision Inspired Scholarship Through Academic Achievement). The study also states that "since the majority of low-income students attending UNM are Hispanic, VISTA. . .provides an important test of what might work to increase the relatively low completion rates among this group" (p. 4). VISTA combines enhanced academic advising with a scholarship award of $1,000 per semester for 2 years. In order to continue in the program, eligible students must complete at least 15 credit hours each semester while maintaining a grade of "C" or better.

During the Fall of 2008 and 2009, a blind study was conducted at UNM: 500 low-income students were selected at random to participate in the VISTA program. A control group consisting of an additional 500 low-income students was also tracked, but control students were offered standard academic advising and standard financial aid. The VISTA students will be tracked for 4 years, but they will only be given enhanced advising and scholarship funding for the first 2 years.

The VISTA students were each assigned an advisor and met with the same advisor at least three times per semester. Most students met with their advisors more often than required to learn about course registration, financial aid, and other school support services that balance school, work, and personal life. …

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