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M State trying to entice students back

Many college students, for various reasons, drop out before completing their degrees.

To help with retention rates, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Foundation will implement a program to encourage former students to re-enroll and finish two- or four-year degrees.

MnSCU received an $800,000 grant from the Lumina Foundation for Education that will fund the program, called Returning Adults to Progress in Degree (RAPID).

Since Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Detroit Lakes is a member of MnSCU, it will benefit from the four-year grant.

"We already have a variety of online and hybrid classes that are designed for the returning and/or non-traditional student," said Mary Devine, director of communications and marketing at M State.

She added that nearly 40 percent of students are already non-traditional or eCampus students and the college offers resources that will be a beneficial resource for the RAPID initiative.

MnSCU officials say students will have access to different options. In addition to online courses, they'll be able to enroll in accelerated programs with flexible start dates and receive course credits for work experience.

"Minnesota must leverage the talent of its working-age adults who have some college but no degree," Chancellor James H. McCormick said in a news release. "We want our former students to know that our 32 colleges and universities stand ready to help them complete their degrees.

"By doing so, they are very likely to raise their standard of living and the state's employers will have the educated workers they need in the coming decades."

The college system has already identified students who attended school in the last 10 years and already have 15 or more college credits.

Although all former students are encouraged to seek college education, this program will focus on helping students through tough challenges that lead to their dropping out.

"That's why this program will focus on helping dislocated workers, veterans and other adults who face situational barriers, such as family responsibilities or difficult work schedules, complete degrees," McCormick said.

The Lumina Foundation has a goal of increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees to 60 percent by 2025 from the current 40 percent.

"Given demographic trends and attainment rates among young adults, it is highly unlikely that the nation can meet its growing need for college-educated workers by continuing to focus primarily on recent high school graduates," said James Merisotis, Lumina's president and chief executive officer.