August 24, 2016

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

VSU Awarded $2.1 Million to Help Identify, Recruit, Retain Migrant Students

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University is the proud recipient of a $2.1 million competitive grant from the United States Department of Education Office of Migrant Education. These funds will be used to help identify, recruit, and retain students who are migratory or seasonal farmworkers — or the children of these migrant workers — and build a bridge to higher education.

“As reflected in its mission statement, VSU is committed to meeting the educational needs of the region’s diverse population in order to sustain economic growth and advance the standard of living for everyone,” said Dr. Anthony Scheffler, interim associate vice president of academic affairs, a professor in the James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education and Human Services, and principal investigator on the grant. “The university has demonstrated this commitment by actively exploring innovative pedagogies and working to enhance its recruitment and student support processes in order to accommodate all students, regardless of their circumstance.”

The United States Department of Education Office of Migrant Education grant will award VSU $424,833 per year for five years to establish and maintain a College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) on campus. This program will be responsible for identifying, recruiting, and retaining students who are migratory or seasonal farmworkers, or the children of these migrant farmworkers, and guiding them throughout their freshman year. 

The United States Department of Education Office of Migrant Education grant only supports students through their first year of college.

Students accepted into CAMP at VSU will receive scholarships covering the cost of room and board, tuition and required fees, academic supplies, and necessary transportation, as well as a small monthly stipend. They will also receive a host of support services, including tutoring, mentoring, and counseling. This program will serve a total of 25 students each year and give them the tools necessary to continue being a productive and successful member of the university community throughout their second, third, and fourth years of study.

“Increasingly, the success of a university is defined not simply by the number of students who are admitted each year but also by the diversity of the student body and the number of students who successfully complete their program of study, graduate, are employed, and become engaged members of their community,” Scheffler said. “To this end VSU is committed to providing its students with both a value-added educational experience and the necessary support services that will ensure their success both as students and alumni.”

Through CAMP, VSU hopes to increase the number of migrant students seeking a bachelor’s degree by 4.6 percent each year; increase the retention rate of first-time, full-time migrant students from first year to second year by 9.6 percent each year; and increase the graduation rate of full-time migrant students by 6.8 percent each year. 

“There are a number of notable success stories that attest to the value of a VSU education,” Scheffler said. “Students from all walks of life and backgrounds have graduated from VSU and made a significant and lasting positive impact on the lives of others. We are confident that the CAMP participants will do the same.”    

The United States Department of Education Office of Migrant Education grant is one of the single largest in the history of VSU.

“This was our second attempt at applying for funding,” said Kerry Morris, who oversees research and grant strategies for VSU’s Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Administration. “We did our homework, we listened to their critiques, and we reapplied. We had to. Student support is so very critical, and this award has given us the motivation we need to pursue an even larger piece of the federal funding pie.”

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