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Project Graduate Week set 28 Sep-2 Oct, 2015

No application fees at public schools during period for qualified former students 30 and over
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By Sue Patrick
Commonwealth News Center

Help is on the way for adults interested in finishing associate or bachelor's degrees.

All public campuses will waive application fees for qualifying students during Project Graduate Week, set 23 Sep-2 October 2015 To qualify, former students must have 30 or more credits toward an associate degree or 80 or more credit hours toward a bachelor's degree.

Aaron Thompson, the Council on Postsecondary Education's executive vice president, said students who stopped out with significant number of credits have already proven that they are successful in the classroom, but more than likely life happened and got in the way of their degree.

"We understand that life happens, even the cool things like marriage and career opportunities. A semester turns into a year, and then three kids later you're still thinking about finishing your degree. Now's the time for you to come back and finish," he said.

Governor Steve Beshear declared Project Graduate Week throughout Kentucky to encourage students to complete degrees.

Adult learners return to college for various reasons, said Thompson. Many return to advance their careers or to change careers, but for others it is to set an example for children, achieve a personal goal, and even to pursue graduate school.

Sophia Scott put her college degree on hold as a wife and mother. Now, as a graduate of Northern Kentucky University, Scott says, "Obtaining my degree has completely changed my life! This new endeavor has opened new opportunities that were not available to me before completing my degree."

Scott is pursuing a master's in integrative studies at NKU. "This would not have been possible without the diligence and knowledge that I obtained from Project Graduate," she said.

University of Louisville student LaKeesha Hatchett Turner admits not being fully prepared for the college experience as an 18-year-old. "Fast forward to Project Graduate," said Turner, who is majoring in organizational leadership and learning.

"With this program, getting back in school here at UofL was an easy process. As a Project Graduate participant, my support team at UofL has been nothing short of amazing!"

Project Graduate advisors on each campus are planning informational and outreach activities to former students and other adults during the week.

NKU's Deborah Poweleit, associate director of educational outreach, said assisting students in designing a clear path to degree completion is her favorite aspect of Project Graduate.

"Often students graduate in less than a year. Sometimes I have the privilege to tell them they have already meet the degree requirements and just need to apply for graduation," she said.

Poweleit's advice to students is clear. "Don't put it off any longer; we are here to help you reach your goal," she said.

The Council launched the nationally recognized program in 2008 in collaboration with the state's public four-year universities. More than 1,850 students have earned their bachelor's degrees through the program, and another 1,000 were in the pipeline last fall. In 2014, the 16 colleges of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System joined the effort.

The recipient of the 2012 Noel-Levitz Retention Award for Excellence, Project Graduate is a key strategy in the state's college completion agenda.

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This story was posted on 2015-09-28 08:32:50
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