Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation is a nonprofit federal student loan servicer, working with college students and financial aid lenders to help students borrow responsibly and find sensible repayment solutions.
The company has offices across the country, but places particular emphasis on the upper Midwest. Recently, Great Lakes awarded $8.8 million in grants to dozens of colleges and community organizations in four states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Ohio. The grants are designed to better prepare students for college-level work and connect at-risk students with supports to keep them on track for college graduation.
The grants target a persistent problem in higher education: the lack of sufficient academic preparation among many incoming college students. The problem is especially critical at community colleges, where more than 60 percent of students must enroll in developmental courses—in other words, high school refresher courses at college prices. What's more, the courses do not bear credit. Only a fraction of these students successfully complete college.
Recipients of Great Lakes' College Ready grants, about $1.3 million of the $8.8 million total, are universities, community colleges and community service organizations. These include Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland; Milwaukee Area Technical College in Wisconsin; Boys and Girls Clubs of Dane County in Madison, WI; and St. Cloud State University in Minnesota.
Another set of grants worth $2.1 million goes to colleges and educational organizations that Great Lakes regards as successful in preparing students to succeed in college-level courses. Winners of the College Ready Continuation grants include Central Minnesota Jobs and Training Services Inc., Pathways to College Inc. in Milwaukee, St. Paul College, and the University of Minnesota.
Finally, the largest bloc of grants, $5.4 million, goes to colleges and organizations to identify at-risk students and connect them with resources and supports to keep them on track for college success, leading to completion of a degree. Recipients include Ashland University, Ohio; Clark University, Iowa; Madison College, Wisconsin; Des Moines Area Community College, Iowa; University of Wisconsin; and University of Findlay, Ohio.
Despite the name, Great Lakes does not limit its giving to states in the upper Midwest. However, it does limit specific grant programs to particular regions, which the organization announces with each new grant.