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Low income scholarship program helps UIS students stay on course

December 3, 2004

SPRINGFIELD - An innovative program developed through a special partnership between the University of Illinois at Springfield and the Illinois Department of Human Services is helping some UIS students stay enrolled in their college courses in spite of obstacles that might otherwise have caused them to drop out.

The Low Income Degree Scholarship Program is designed to help single parent, low-income students complete their degrees and, since its inception during the 2003-2004 academic year, has helped over 135 UIS students remain in the classroom.  DHS provided $250,000 in start-up funds in February 2003 and UIS recently received word that funding at that level will continue for 2005.

Terri Jackson, coordinator of UIS’ Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, explained, “We know that people who hold baccalaureate degrees stand a better chance of finding employment that will allow them to support themselves and their families. This program is designed to help those lower-income parents who are pursuing a degree as a path toward a better life.  It provides funds to help navigate through the unexpected barriers that sometimes cause students to quit.  We want them to stay with their goals and graduate.  These special funds help pay for a variety of unexpected expenses that can get in the way.”

Related Links

Office of Multicultural Student Affairs
Financial Assistance Office

L. Christopher Miller, vice chancellor for student affairs at UIS, added, “We are extremely fortunate to have this opportunity to provide our students with financial assistance. We are also quite cognizant of the fact that this program will promote student persistence, retention, and, ultimately, graduation.” 

To be eligible, students must meet the following criteria: 1) have an income below 200 percent of the poverty guidelines and/or receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families; 2) be the custodial parent of at least one minor child; 3) be enrolled in a post-secondary course of study leading to a degree; and, 4) maintain a grade-point average of 2.50 (on a 4.00 scale). In addition, students must have exhausted all PELL/MAP eligibility for the current academic year and must earn their degrees within eight years.

Jackson’s office works with the UIS Office of Financial Assistance to identify students who would be eligible for the program. This internal partnership ensures that students who could most benefit from the program are included on the list of those who are mailed informational letters and application packets.  Once necessary documentation is received, applicants are considered for awards that are given on a case-by-case basis.  Participants can use monies from the program to meet various expenses including, but not limited to, books, rent, and utilities.  They are also permitted to request assistance more than once, and Jackson noted that applications are considered as long as funds are available.

For further information, contact UIS’ Office of Multicultural Student Affairs at 217/206-6333.
    The University of Illinois at Springfield, one of three U of I campuses, is a small, public liberal arts university that offers 42 degree programs – 21 bachelor’s, 20 master’s, and the Doctorate of Public Administration. UIS has a special mission in public affairs and service and is known for extraordinary internships, a wireless campus, extensive online offerings, and a commitment to teaching.