Lyon College gets sizable grant to help students in need - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Lyon College gets sizable grant to help students in need

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BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) – First-year students can have a tough time transitioning to college from high school.

Lyon College in Batesville recognized that, so it started a program to give freshmen a few more resources to help them succeed at school. That program is now set to grow thanks to a sizable new grant.

The college recently received a Title III grant from the U.S. Department of Education that will disperse more than $3 million over a five-year span. Administrators plan to use that money to expand support services for students that might struggle with academics and much more.

The school will use the grant to expand and further develop its Supplemental Instruction, or SI, program.

"It's an alternative to traditional tutoring," said Dr. Virginia Wray, the dean of the faculty and the vice president for academic services, "where an upperclassmen who's had a freshman-level course is employed to go to the course again with the freshmen to hold one to two SI sessions a week and to hold office hours.

"In those sessions," she added, "the goal is not to go in and re-lecture the class or say ‘hey, you got questions?' No, it's to have activities planned that the students can do to not just master the material in the course but to improve their studying."

The money will assist students struggling not only academically, but also financially. Administrators say the grant will help the college create a $1.3 million scholarship endowment for low income and first generation students.

"The interesting part of this grant is that it actually can be used only if we raise matching funds, so for every one of our alumni, friends and other donors that support this scholarship endowment, it will be matched dollar for dollar essentially up to $125,000 a year," said Jon Vestal, the college's vice president for institutional advancement. "So, at the end of the five-year period, we plan to have a $1.3 million scholarship endowment for low income and first generation students.

"Actually," he added, "50 percent of Lyon students are first generation or low income that receive the highest amount of federal tuition grants to attend school, so that really is the heartbeat of who we are is to make sure that a high-level education, a great Lyon education can be had by any student regardless of their background."

Administrators also hope these efforts will achieve one goal – to boost student retention rates as well as graduation rates. The Title III grant will allow the school to hire a few new people to study other ways to achieve that.

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