Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, has announced gifts totaling $13 million in support of a program that assists low-income first-generation students, including a $10 million gift from alumnus A. George "Skip" Battle ('66), himself a first-generation college graduate.
Established in 2009 with the goal of making education more attainable for all, the First Year Student Enrichment Program (FYSEP) was designed to serve incoming students who are the first in their families to attend college. FYSEP activities include sample classes in a low-pressure environment, mentoring by Dartmouth upperclassmen, and instruction in ways to overcome common obstacles faced by first-year students. With the additional funding, the program will be expanded from its current five days to four weeks and include peer academic coaches.
To promote equal access to all aspects of the Dartmouth experience, the college is working to triple the amount of funds available to cover student emergencies and other needs not met through traditional financial aid, from medical costs and eyeglasses to professional attire for interviews and living expenses during unpaid internships. To be fully implemented by 2020, the expanded program in its first year will have the capacity to serve a hundred students.
According to Dartmouth, current FYSEP participants have registered grade-point averages that are higher than those of their non-participating peers, with the average six-year graduation rate for FYSEP participants more than 95 percent, exceeding the national average of 50 percent for the first-generation student population. In the decade since the program was launched, student participation in the program has more than tripled.
"Supporting first-generation and low-income students is a great investment," said Battle. "We're helping make these students more influential within the campus community, which benefits everyone at Dartmouth — and ultimately it benefits the communities where they’ll live, and our entire country."