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The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) has awarded a $1.2 million grant to Radford University to establish a program designed to increase retention and graduation rates of Pell Grant-eligible and low-income undergraduate students at the university.

The goal of the four-year grant is to increase retention by 5% and six-year graduation rates for this population by the end of the 2027-28 academic year. To help carry out the program, Radford will use the grant funds to hire four student success advocates (SSAs).

Working within Radford’s Dean of Students office, advocates will be assigned to work with all of Radford’s Pell-eligible students and provide them with programming, advocacy, interventions and resources to promote their efforts to remain enrolled at the university through graduation.

To do so, advocates will provide comprehensive support systems that assure academic success, student well-being, a sense of belonging and career preparedness.

Currently, about 37% of Radford undergraduate students are eligible for the Pell Grant.

“By receiving this exceptional SCHEV grant, Radford has a unique opportunity to positively impact our Pell-eligible student population,” said interim Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Bruce Hayden ’93, M.S. ’95. “We are strategically positioned to provide student success advocates as dedicated resources and advocates for these students. The SSAs will help navigate pathways and connect students to resources they may not be aware of. I firmly believe that the touchpoints between SSAs and their students will significantly contribute to achieving their graduation goals.”

Employing student success advocates supports Radford’s ongoing commitment to address the overall representation and success of low-income and Pell-eligible undergraduate students at the university. The program aligns with the Virginia Plan, the commonwealth’s higher education strategic plan, by addressing university enrollment, retention and completion for Pell-eligible, low-income undergraduate students.

SCHEV is the Commonwealth of Virginia’s coordinating body for higher education.