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Earlham College Gives Small Grants To Retain Students

By Stephanie Wiechmann, IPR News | Published on in Education, Local News
(Photo: Earlham College on Facebook)

A liberal arts college in Richmond is offering small grants to students who are in danger of withdrawing because of financial issues.  As IPR’s Stephanie Wiechmann reports, school officials hope the extra help will keep students on campus and graduating on time.

Ninety percent of students at Richmond’s Earlham College receive some form of financial aid.  But for senior Mariah Flynn, the help from the school, her parents, and working several jobs wasn’t enough.

She’s now one of the recipients of a new grant aimed at keeping students like her in school.  The $2,000 grant was enough to get the “hold” off her tuition account.

“A hold for us is anything over $1,000 that you haven’t paid off.  And that will keep you from registering for classes on pre-registration dates.  When I found out I was eligible for the grant, I was thinking to myself, like, ‘Any bit of money I can get to help me get off of the hold will be helpful.’”

Earlham, a private liberal arts college started by Quakers in 1847, has a student body of about 1,000.  Tuition, room, and board will cost nearly $57,000 in the 2018-19 school year.

The school says more than 60 students will be getting grants that average $2,200.

Bonita Washington-Lacey is Earlham’s senior associate vice president of academic affairs.  She says she’s seen this particular need from students for several years.

“We’re convinced that if they are achieving academically, if they are contributing to the community, these are students we want to see complete their degrees.  And if we can remove some of the financial stressers toward doing that, they are able to focus more on their academic lives and not worry about paying that debt of difference in what they owe the college.”

Alumni donors have funded the financial assistance grants for the next three years.  Earlham officials say 71 percent of its students complete a degree in four years.