CHATTANOOGA — Middle Tennessee State University will supplement by $1,000 the Hope Lottery Scholarships of incoming students who stay on track to graduate in four years – and pay a Finish Line Scholarship to graduating seniors that will return any tuition increases over that span.
Both initiatives, which apply to students entering the university this fall, are part of the MTSU Student Success Advantage, which President Sidney A. McPhee announced in Chattanooga on Wednesday on the first leg of the six-city True Blue Tour.
This effort is part of MTSU’s overall “Quest for Student Success” initiative, a series of reforms launched last year to boost graduation and retention rates through changes such as course redesigns, enhanced advising and new student data tracking software.
“The Student Success Advantage is an agreement between the university and our students: If you maintain a steady pace to graduation in four years, we’ll help you along the way,” McPhee said.
Under the plan, MTSU will pay $500 to students receiving the Hope scholarship after each of their first two years. Students must remain eligible for the Hope in order to get the award from MTSU.
The state recently reduced the Hope scholarship from $4,000 a year to $3,500 a year for freshmen and sophomores to help finance the Tennessee Promise, the plan announced by Gov. Bill Haslam to offer free community college to high school graduates starting in 2015.
“Our Student Success Advantage restores the $500 that freshmen and sophomores will lose with the changes in the Hope scholarship,” McPhee said. “We made this a top priority, given that almost 80 percent of our students receive the Hope scholarship.”
University officials point out that many students who don’t stay on track to graduate in four years face financial challenges when their Hope scholarship funds are exhausted. The university is hiring more academic advisers, which will help students maximize the Student Success Advantage funds by keeping them on track to graduate on time.