Student retention

6/30/2010: At Xavier, from

Two decades ago, Xavier University could only count on three of every four freshmen returning for sophomore year. Even fewer made it to graduation. Today, though, close to 9 of every 10 students who start freshman year at the Jesuit university in Cincinnati make it back the next fall. Seven in 10 will graduate in four years, and another one will likely graduate in the two years after that.

Investments like staffing the Office of Student Success and Retention with Schiess, an assistant director, an administrative assistant and two graduate assistants end up paying off, Stinson says. The university spends about $250,000 each year on the office and gives Schiess $400,000 in financial aid to distribute to struggling students, but all those expenditures still leave the university in the black. “An additional $1,000 we give to a student in the fall will return us an additional $14,000 in the spring,” Schiess says. “But before you decide whether to give the student that money, you have to know that person individually to see if it makes sense.” Financial issues are, by and large, the primary reason why students think about leaving Xavier, he says.

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