Helping Students Stay in College

Photo Courtesy of Iona College: Pictured, Maeve Ellen Wydan '22, Courthney Normil '22, Patricia McDonnell Napolitano '85, President Seamus Carey, Ph.D., J. Kevin Devlin, CFC, Ed.D., '61

Today, more than one in five working-age Americans is a college dropout. They started out with a dream of graduating with a college degree, but something got in the way. Family responsibilities, a job loss, lack of family support, an illness, or just a bad experience with college classes are some of the more typical reasons.

According to Education Data, a nonprofit that collects data and statistics about the U.S. education system, the overall dropout rate for undergraduate college students in the U.S. is 40%.  Their most recent report also found that:

  • 30% of the dropout rate comes from college freshmen dropping out before their sophomore year.
  • Black students had the highest college dropout rate at 54%.
  • 38% of college dropouts – the largest majority – said they left due to financial pressure.

Similar types of data appear in the book Who Graduates from College? Who Doesn’t, by Mark Kantrowitz. Three-quarters of college dropouts are first-generation college students. Also, not surprisingly, more than two-thirds of college dropouts are low-income students, with family adjusted gross income under $50,000.

Adding to these struggles, the cost of higher education has skyrocketed in recent decades, far outpacing inflation. This makes it especially difficult for young adults to obtain the education that will enable them to reach their life goals.

At Phillips Charitable Foundation (PCF), we are big advocates for education. It's a pathway to financial security, reducing the heartbreaking life and health impacts of poverty. Thankfully, many colleges are now working diligently to reverse the dropout trends. PCF awarded two grants to colleges that are doing their part to help students who might otherwise drop out for financial related reasons.

Iona College
$25,000 for Brother Devlin Fund
New York

The mission of Iona College, located in New Rochelle, New York, is to make a positive impact on the lives of others and to move the world.  Iona College serves approximately 3,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. A $25,000 grant was awarded to Iona College for the Brother Devlin Emergency Fund. This fund provides aid to students who are experiencing an immediate financial crisis. Covered costs include support for student fees, books, supplies, transportation, room and board, tuition, or other emergency needs.

This is the second grant Phillips Charitable Foundation has awarded Iona College for the Brother Devlin Emergency Fund. After the first grant they reported, “it is our experience that when we quickly deliver small grants to students encountering unexpected expenses, more of these students stay in school and on track to complete their degrees.

Anne Arundel Community College Foundation
$15,000 for Student Basic Needs Fund

Anne Arundel Community College (AACC), located in Arnold, Maryland, serves over 18,000 students each semester. In a national ranking by Academic Influence, Anne Arundel Community College was number one in the nation amongst community colleges. Keeping students in school is a major focus at AACC.

The Student Basic Needs Fund was established to meet the immediate needs of students in crisis. Grants from this fund are provided for short-term support to help students get through the crisis while also remaining in school. The fund temporarily covers expenses such as rent, living expenses, child care, medical expenses, textbooks, and transportation costs. PCF awarded a $15,000 grant for the Student Basic Needs Fund.

In response to the grant from PCF, Sarah Reilly, Major Gifts Officer, stated “Your gift will benefit many students, helping them through difficult times like food insecurity or unexpected emergency expenses, thus ensuring that they can continue with their studies and achieve their goals.”

At Phillips Charitable Foundation we are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to these two much-needed funds and to the colleges that manage them. Every student helped is another student who may finish college and achieve their future career goals. That's a worthy cause!

This is Part 1 of a series of articles we're posting about our 2021 Fall Grant Series.

Part 2: Helping the Most Vulnerable Live Their Best Lives

Part 3: Educational Opportunity for All

Part 4: Honoring Our Veterans and First Responders

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