Press Release

Great Lakes Invites Four-Year Colleges to Apply for Successful Emergency Grant Program

January 26, 2017


Madison, Wis., January 26, 2017—For many low-income students, an unforeseen car repair or medical bill can mean the end of their college hopes. While typically not large expenses, they can be enough to force these students into a tough choice: stay in college or pay the bill.

Since 2012, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates has committed $3 million to fund Dash Emergency Grant programs at two-year colleges, and outcomes are encouraging. Colleges report that low-income students benefiting from emergency grants stay in school at better rates and graduate in larger numbers than the national average. That's why Great Lakes is now offering Dash Grants to four-year colleges. Interested colleges are invited to apply by March 23rd, 2017.

The basics of an emergency grant program are simple. Students apply directly to their college for payment of unforeseen emergency expenses, such as car repairs or medical bills, and colleges send payment to third parties for approved expenses within two business days. By rapidly removing financial distractions, students can refocus on their studies and keep moving toward graduation. If underlying issues are discovered that may have caused the financial emergency, students are referred to campus and community resources for additional assistance.

Our goal is to gain insights from our grant partners on how successful emergency grant programs are run. We plan to develop a framework of key institutional requirements, along with a list of essential practices, that will enable colleges interested in starting new emergency grant programs to be better informed about what is needed.

"Seemingly small emergency grants—delivered promptly—clearly help students overcome financial obstacles and achieve their goals," said Richard D. George, President and Chief Executive Officer of Great Lakes. "We're excited to expand this program to four-year colleges so they can integrate an emergency grant program into their student success strategy and help more at-risk students graduate."

Four-year colleges in Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin are eligible to apply. Up to 32 grantees will be selected to participate in this project running from 2017-2019. Great Lakes grant funds will support payment of emergency expenses and a portion of college administration costs. Interested four-year colleges should be committed and able to contribute 10% of the amount designated for emergency grants in the 2017-2018 academic year and 15% in the 2018-2019 academic year. Grantee colleges will also be asked to provide student enrollment data to determine the impact of emergency grants on student retention and persistence.

Visit for an application, due March 23, 2017. The grant period will be June 15, 2017 – August 31, 2019, including three months for administrative planning and training faculty and staff. The first student emergency grants will be made during fall 2017.

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