Economically disadvantaged students often do not receive enough financial aid to cover four years of tuition to complete a bachelor’s degree. Without just-in-time assistance, some of these students leave college before degree completion. Some may return later, but most will leave early with debt from student loans and no degree.
Five years ago, UNC Charlotte created the Gold Rush Grant, a micro-grant program, to reverse this troubling trend. The program awards a one-time grant to selected students who are within two semesters of graduating and have demonstrated financial need during their senior year. The program requires completion of two future-building activities to prepare the students for their future careers, such as meeting with a career advisor, preparing for a mock interview or completing a financial literacy module.
Gold Rush Grants have helped traditional students, single mothers and nontraditional adult learners realize their dreams. To date, more than 800 students have received a grant and, of those, 78% achieved their goal of an undergraduate degree. A number of recipients cited gratitude for the ability to buy all the required textbooks for the semester — some had never been able to afford this.
One past recipient commented, “The Gold Rush Grant has helped me afford college and continue to pursue my dreams. Due to financial difficulties, I was seriously considering dropping out of college, and I wasn't sure if I would have a bright future. Since I got the Gold Rush Grant, not only am I able to finish my classes, but I'm confident about doing well even after college.”