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Georgia Southern awarded $600,000 to lower equity gaps, increase graduation rates for low-income students 

Students at Georgia Southern University now have even more opportunities to excel with the help of two new grants from the National Institute for Student Success (NISS) at Georgia State University totaling up to $600,000.

The first is a $500,000 Acceleration Grant that will be distributed to Georgia Southern over the next two years to cover start-up costs for critical implementation steps of an ambitious program that further catalyzes Georgia Southern’s student success outcomes. 

“As Georgia Southern’s Fall 2024 enrollment continues to increase at record levels through freshman applications and admits, we are pleased to partner with the National Institute for Student Success to reinforce our commitment to providing exceptional student experiences and support that nurtures future leaders and global citizens,” stated Alejandra C. Sosa Pieroni, Ed.D., executive vice president, Division of Enrollment, Marketing and Student Success. “We are steadfast in our commitment to providing comprehensive, coordinated and differentiated student care to ensure every one of our students achieves their educational goals.”

Funding through the Acceleration Grant will contribute to Georgia Southern’s existing initiatives to improve graduation rates and student success outcomes through the adoption of a suite of innovative, evidence-based programs. These programs, which deploy tools such as predictive analytics, AI technology, CRM platform, and big data to deliver personalized support to students, have been shown to help universities increase their graduation rates by 50% or more and to reduce discrepancies in graduation rates significantly.

The second NISS award to Georgia Southern is the Keep HOPE Alive grant, which offers $100,000 across one year to support students who have lost the HOPE Scholarship as they work to regain eligibility.

“We are enthusiastic about our partnership with Georgia Southern and working to deploy strategies that will contribute to substantive improvement in student outcomes,” said Timothy M. Renick, Ph.D., NISS executive director.

Housed at Georgia State University, the NISS Acceleration Grants have been awarded to partner institutions that have completed a rigorous diagnostic analysis and have demonstrated a commitment to addressing structural and institutional barriers to the success of their students.

Georgia Southern is a member of the second cohort to receive support from the NISS Accelerator Grant program, which launched in 2022.

Unique to the Accelerator Grant program is up to three years of implementation coaching, webinars, meetings with expert practitioners and online resources provided by the NISS to support each awardee in implementing the new programs. The NISS coaching model is built on more than a decade of experience at Georgia State University developing and disseminating new approaches to student success that include predictive-analytics-based advising, AI-enhanced chatbots, and data-informed models for distributing financial aid.

“These programs have helped Georgia State University increase its graduation rates for its bachelor’s students by 70% and its associate’s students by 300%,” according to Renick. “Black, Hispanic and low-income students now graduate from Georgia State at or above the rate of the student body overall.”

The Acceleration Grant program will advance the NISS goal of producing 500,000 additional college graduates across its partner institutions over the next decade.


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