Indiana State University Newsroom

Commission for Higher Education contract aims to help more students succeed

March 11, 2015

Indiana State University will expand efforts to help low-income and first generation students stay in college and complete their degrees thanks to a $127,000 contract with the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

Since 2010, Indiana State has put activities and programs in place for incoming freshmen that have boosted retention rates by 7.1 percent for 21st Century Scholars, by 7.7 percent for students receiving federal Pell grants and by 12.5 percent for African-American students.

The two-year contract will allow Indiana State to build on and expand those programs by creating a 21st Century and O'Bannon Scholar Corps. 21st Century Scholars and Frank O'Bannon Grant recipients, two groups of students receiving need-based state aid, accounted for more than 1,150 of Indiana State's 2,735 new freshmen last fall.

"We're going to do more exciting things for these students," said Josh Powers, associate vice president for student success.Activities for eligible students this fall will include:

• An expanded summer bridge program to help with the transition to college for students with a high school grade point average of 2.5 to 3.0

• A first-year initiative program that will bring curriculum into students' residence halls via living/learning communities

• Mentorship by 21st Century Scholar and Frank O'Bannon Grant upperclassmen

• Financial aid and financial literacy training and guidance

• Career ready certificate opportunities• Textbook scholarship for the fall semester

"We are already doing these things and we know they work," said Linda Maule, dean of University College. "We're now able to pull all of these things together and encourage students who want to be recognized as participating in the Scholar Corps to do all of them, or at least require some of them."

The ultimate goal, Maule said, is to not only help more freshmen return as sophomores but stay in college and complete a bachelor's degree.

The career-read certificate is especially exciting, Maule said, because "it will get scholars to thinking not only about how to be successful in their major but to also find a career that they are passionate about and can be successful in."

The textbook scholarship will be an experiment with 370 recipients selected at random, Maule explained.

"We want to see if a book scholarship will help the students persist," she said. "21st Century Scholarships and Frank O'Bannon Awards don't cover everything and certainly don't cover books. If students can't pay for their books, that creates a problem for them."

The Commission for Higher Education contract that will allow creation of the 21st Century and O'Bannon Scholar Corps will complement a "First in the World" grant Indiana State received last fall from the U.S. Department of Education, Powers said.

Both are aimed at helping students stay in college and complete a four-year degree.

"The First in the World grant focuses on academic mindset in math," Powers said. "We will be embedding aspects of social belonging and growth mindset into the 21st Century and O'Bannon Scholar Corps."

Contact: Linda Maule, dean, University College, Indiana State University, 812-237-3940 or; Josh Powers, associate vice president for student success, Indiana State University, 812-237-8378 or

Writer: Dave Taylor, meda relations director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3743 or