As the partial federal government shutdown continues, Wayne State University is announcing it will offer financial relief to students and students of families affected by the Washington gridlock. The shutdown has forced 800,000 federal employees to go on furlough or work without getting paid.
“We know that many of our students work and go to school, as well as rely on financial support from parents,” said Dawn Medley, associate vice president for enrollment management. “Any interruption in a funding source can be a real hardship. We’re not sure how many students may be impacted by the government shutdown, but we want those students to know that we are committed to their success and we’re willing to work with them.”
Students seeking assistance are asked to bring documentation regarding their temporary loss of income to the Student Service Center in the Welcome Center (42 W. Warren). Each student’s situation will be examined by staff to determine the most appropriate action. Potential solutions include the waiving of late fees, offering of payment plans and emergency loans. Federal financial aid is expected to be distributed as scheduled and is not expected to be an issue.
The offer of temporary financial relief is just another Wayne State initiative to ensure access to higher education and support student success. The university has increased its commitment to low-income and first-generation students through various awards and programs, including a fee waiver for first-generation students and the Wayne Access Award, which covers the full cost of tuition and fees.
The university also created the Warrior Way Back program, an innovative debt-forgiveness initiative designed to re-engage adult learners who cannot return to college because of past-due balances. During the recent December 2018 commencement ceremonies, the first eight participants in the Warrior Way Back program were eligible to walk across the stage and receive their diplomas.
The latest federal data on college graduation rates reveals that Wayne State University is the fastest-improving university in the nation among public universities with more than 10,000 students. Wayne State's graduation rates have nearly doubled between 2011 and 2017, increasing from 26 to 47 percent, according to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. Gains have been particularly pronounced among first-generation, low-income and minority students.
While Wayne State's graduation rate has increased 21 percent in six years, nationally, graduation rates have increased only two percentage points over the last decade.
Recently, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) named Wayne State University the winner of its 2018 Degree Completion Award. The annual award identifies and honors institutions using innovative strategies or programs to increase retention and graduation outcomes and decrease achievement gaps.
Increasing degree attainment is a significant focus area in higher education, and it is being addressed through efforts such as the APLU's Powered by Publics Initiative. Wayne State is the lead for the urban university cluster as a result of its innovation and rapid transformation.