Person writing at a communal desk

Great Lakes Funds New Emergency Grants Shown to Boost Community and Technical College Completion

31 colleges will help an estimated 4,000 low-income students stay on the path to graduation

—Community and technical colleges provide a gateway to promising futures for students from diverse backgrounds, many who are older, lower income, working and/or raising families. They juggle multiple financial responsibilities and unforeseen expenses—often less than $500—can threaten their ability to stay in college. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, just 20 percent of full-time students at public two-year institutions earn a degree within three years. Financial emergencies are among the reasons why so many students abandon their studies before they complete their degrees or certificates.

Colleges can make a difference for these at-risk students by quickly providing small emergency grants to remove economic barriers that stand in the way of completion. Through its new Dash Emergency Grant Program, Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation is helping more colleges offer emergency grants to students who receive Federal Pell Grants.

Great Lakes has awarded $1.5 million in Dash grants to 31 colleges in Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin that have shown an extraordinary commitment to engaging with students who experience a financial crisis. Proof of this commitment is an institutional investment: each college is providing an escalating cash match for student emergency grants, both to meet students' immediate needs and move toward program sustainability. Over the duration of the grant period, upwards of 4,000 students stand to benefit from the Dash program.

"Great Lakes is pleased to provide more resources to colleges that are dedicated to supporting students in times of greatest need," said Richard D. George, President and Chief Executive Officer of Great Lakes. "Emergency grants are a bridge to college completion and the financial security a community college credential can provide."

The process is simple: students apply for small grants directly from their college when faced with an unexpected bill, such as a car repair or medical payment. Expenses are paid within 48 hours of the approved application. By quickly removing financial distractions, students don't lose focus on their studies and continue moving toward completion.

Dash is based on the success of an emergency grant program that Great Lakes piloted at 16 technical colleges in Wisconsin from June 2012 to June 2015. More than 2,600 students received grants averaging $500 each. Of the students who received emergency grants during the three-year period, 73 percent either graduated or remained enrolled, compared to 67 percent of Pell recipients before the program began.

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College participated in the pilot program and is a recipient of a new Dash grant. "The emergency grants we made during the pilot grant were vital to keeping our most at-risk students enrolled during a time of crisis," said Barb Tucker, Director of Institutional Advancement. "As a small, rural college, reliable transportation is critical to our students' success. More than 63 percent of the grants we made allowed students to make essential car repairs and receive transportation assistance. If our college hadn't been able to meet the immediate needs of these students, I have no doubt that many of them would have dropped out."

Meet our 2016-2018 Dash Emergency Grant Recipients »


News Releases

Great Lakes Funding Development of Online Support Community for College Freshman Women
10/30/2017


Great Lakes Shares Lessons Learned from Summer Melt Texting Initiative
10/25/2017


Great Lakes Awards $525,000 in Anniversary Grants in Nine Communities Where Employees Live and Work
09/01/2017


Completion Grants Remove an Obstacle for At-Risk Students Nearing Graduation
08/16/2017


New Initiative Connects Remediation Reforms and Guided Pathways to Boost Student Success
08/15/2017


Great Lakes Awards $1,000 Scholarships to 200 Ohio Apprentices with Financial Need
06/29/2017


Great Lakes Awards $7.2 Million to Launch Emergency Grant Programs at Four-Year Colleges
06/15/2017


Great Lakes Sparking Change in Scholarship Delivery
06/12/2017


Montana Guaranteed Student Loan Program to Transfer Portfolio to Great Lakes
06/05/2017


Statement from Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates Regarding Student Loan Collection Fee Policies
03/21/2017


200 Wisconsin Apprentices with Financial Need Awarded $1,000 Scholarships from Great Lakes
03/16/2017


Great Lakes Releases 2016 Philanthropy Report Highlighting $21.9 Million in Grants Awarded
03/09/2017


Great Lakes Invites Four-Year Colleges to Apply for Successful Emergency Grant Program
01/26/2017


USA Funds Transfers Ownership of Nation's Largest Guarantor to Great Lakes
12/07/2016


Great Lakes Commits $2.1 Million to Help 16 Community Colleges Create Internship Programs for Low-Income Students
12/01/2016


Great Lakes Commits $2.6 Million to Keep At-Risk Near-Completers on Track to Graduation
11/15/2016


Blackhawk Technical College Students Borrow $700,000 Less, Regain Financial Aid Eligibility
10/21/2016


Achieving the Dream to Enhance Coaching Services with $1 Million Great Lakes Grant
09/15/2016


Great Lakes National Scholarship Awards Over $2 Million to Support College Access
08/24/2016


Great Lakes Awards $1.5 Million to CCRC to Support Guided Pathways Reform in Ohio
08/18/2016


Successful 'New Mathways Project' Expands into Arkansas to Increase Math Achievement
07/14/2016


Great Lakes Career Ready Internship Grant Opportunity Now Open to
Two-Year Colleges

05/19/2016


Study on Student-Faculty Interactions Finds Multi-Channel Communication is Key
05/11/2016


Great Lakes Shares Lessons Learned from 2014-2015 Career Ready Internship Grant Partners
04/21/2016


New Great Lakes Grant Opportunity Invites Applicants to Address Barriers Preventing Near-Completers from Earning Degrees
04/05/2016


Student Loans of North Dakota to Transfer Portfolio to Great Lakes
04/01/2016


Great Lakes Releases 2015 Philanthropy Report Detailing $28.5 Million in Commitments
03/31/2016


200 Wisconsin Construction and Industrial Trade Apprentices Receive $1,000 Scholarships
03/09/2016


Great Lakes Shares Best Practices from Three-Year Emergency Grant Program
02/25/2016


Application Period for Great Lakes National Scholarship Begins February 15
02/15/2016


Great Lakes Funds New Emergency Grants Shown to Boost Community and Technical College Completion
12/10/2015


University of Pittsburgh Streamlines Private Student Loan Processing, Improves Student Service
11/19/2015


Great Lakes' Free Tool Adds Early Engagement Outreach Campaigns for Schools
10/27/2015


Great Lakes' Commitment to Producing More Undergraduate STEM Degrees Now Reaches $10.7 Million
10/22/2015


Great Lakes Launches Updated Education Philanthropy Website
10/15/2015


Great Lakes Commits Record $12 Million to Fund 7,000 New Paid Internships for College Students with Financial Need
10/08/2015


Great Lakes CEO Accepts White House Invitation to Join the College Promise Campaign Advisory Board
10/01/2015


200 Wisconsin Apprentices Will Earn $1,000 Scholarships to Purchase Tools for Their Trades
09/17/2015


400 MPS Grads Eligible for $5 Million in College Scholarships from The Degree Project®
08/13/2015


Great Lakes Introduces Newly Expanded Program to Increase Community College Graduation
07/09/2015


Great Lakes Shares Results of Applicant and Grantee Perception Survey
05/19/2015


100 Schools Using Great Lakes' Free Outreach Tool to Help Students by Connecting Them with Their Servicer
05/18/2015


Great Lakes Commits $28.6 Million During 2014 to Promote College Access and Completion
05/14/2015


Great Lakes Expands Grants for Colleges Committed to Making Internships More Equitable
04/30/2015


Great Lakes Commits $4.2 Million to Prepare More Students for College Math & English
04/23/2015


Great Lakes' Free Tool Helps Schools Improve Repayment Success for All Their Student Loan Borrowers
02/20/2015