$1.8 million grant to fund student support services program
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Low-income students who will be the first in their families to graduate from college will continue to benefit from a Purdue University program, thanks to a $1.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
The five-year grant provides additional funding for HORIZONS, a 32-year-old program housed in the Office of the Dean of Students that serves 520 Purdue students.
"The staff devote an extraordinary effort toward these students," said Tony Hawkins, dean of students. "The HORIZONS leaders are advocates who are dedicated to empowering these young adults by teaching them about life skills and resources that will help them succeed in the classroom and their careers.
"This program's efforts also are coupled with the university's emphasis on undergraduate student success through our first-year experience programs and commitment to undergraduate teaching. Students work hard to get to Purdue, and we want to see them succeed."
More than 80 percent of the students -- 416 -- are from Indiana, and the rest are from out of state. On average, about 50 percent of the students are white, and the remainder represent underrepresented minority groups. For students to qualify, neither parent can have a four-year college degree and their family must meet federal guidelines for income eligibility. Students also may qualify if they have disabilities.
"Academic success and income often go together," said Dean Ballotti, assistant dean of students and HORIZONS director. "Higher-income students earn what experts call social capital -- meaning they not only learn knowledge, but they also learn how to ask for help, how to use resources and how to solve problems. Low-income students don't always have this opportunity, and this is where our resource-rich program can help."
For example, low-income students can benefit from additional resources to help them transition to a fast-paced college environment. All HORIZONS students are required to take the "Strategies for a Successful First Year" course, which focuses on college study skills, career development and supplemental instruction in math, science and reading skills. A HORIZONS computer literacy class also is available to help students gain computer experience that is relative to a college setting.
This fall 160 first-year students are registered in the program, and each student will be assigned a faculty mentor to meet with and complete assignments for during the academic year. Students also work with HORIZONS peer mentors. These mentoring students complete two semesters of coursework that teaches them how to develop mentoring skills in leadership and interpersonal communication.
"We also have a great relationship with the financial aid office and work together to help these students learn more about aid opportunities as well as directing them to resources to learn how to budget personal finances," Ballotti said.
HORIZONS is a federally funded TRIO program that was authorized by the Higher Education Amendments of 1968.
Purdue was acknowledged this fall by U.S.News & World Report for its commitment to undergraduate teaching and programs that ensure student success. Purdue programs listed include first-year experience, internships, learning communities, study abroad and writing in the Disciplines. Purdue also was tied for 12th nationally in a ranking of universities cited by college presidents, provosts and admissions deans as having an "unusual commitment to undergraduate teaching." The university also was noted as one of the high school counselor picks.
Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, firstname.lastname@example.org
Note to Journalists: HORIZONS students are available to speak with journalists. For more information, contact Amy Patterson Neubert, Purdue News Service, 765-494-9723, email@example.com.