Greensboro College commencement 2017

A newly minted graduate gets her picture taken during the Greensboro College commencement on Saturday, May 13, 2017, in Greensboro, N.C.

GREENSBORO — Greensboro College has received a federal grant of nearly $2 million to help the private school retain and graduate its students.

The college believes that the Title III award from the U.S. Department of Education is the largest federal grant ever given to the school. Colleges and universities use Title III money to serve low-income students.

In a statement, college President Lawrence Czarda called the award “a significant step forward.”

Greensboro College previously had established a degree-completion task force on campus and two years ago began putting in place some of its recommendations to help low-income and first-generation college students. The federal grant, Czarda added, “will bring many of those recommendations to fruition.”

The college’s degree-completion program will add several new positions, including a new math instructor and a full-time director of student retention. The college also plans to set up a new data management system and an intercultural center with a director. There also will be a new program that uses data analysis to identify students who need extra academic help in certain courses and pairs them with other students who act as mentors.

The college also plans to open a communication center, also with a director, later on during the 2018-19 academic year. This new center will have writing tutors and studios to let students work on multimedia projects.

Greensboro College said the five-year federal grant of $1.93 million will cover the program’s entire cost for three years. The college plans to cover some salary costs in the fourth and fifth years of the grant.

Like a lot of schools, Greensboro College has struggled to keep its students on track to graduate.

The college says that over the past three years about 60 percent of its incoming freshmen students have returned to campus for their sophomore years. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, just 16 percent of the new freshmen who started at the college in fall 2011 had received a bachelor’s degree there six years later.

The college’s own data shows that only about 40 percent of all undergraduates who entered between 2004 to 2011 earned a degree within six years.

Greensboro College last fall had nearly 1,100 students, most of them undergraduates. Nearly all of these students received financial aid to attend school. About half got federal Pell Grants, which go to students from financially needy families.

Contact John Newsom at 336-373-7312 and follow @JohnNewsomNR on Twitter.

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