Ramapo Receives EDUCAUSE iPASS Grant

Ramapo College was one of 24 recipients across the country this year to receive the EDUCAUSE iPASS Grant. Ramapo was the only institution of higher learning in New Jersey to receive it. The EDUCAUSE iPASS Grant is used to give institutions of higher education better retention rates and helps students along their college path. The iPASS, or Integrated Planning and Advising for Student Success, will grant Ramapo College a more technology-based monitoring and advisement system.

“Institutions of higher education are facing greater challenges than ever before; many are working to decrease costs while delivering high-quality programs to a growing and increasingly diverse student body,” said EDUCAUSE President and CEO John O’Brien, according to a press release from Ramapo. “This reality demands that institutions embrace new models for monitoring and improving student performance and I am convinced that iPASS systems can be a student success game-changer.”

The grant is offered by funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, which started the program in 2013. The grant aims to increase retention rates by 10 percent across all academic years. Ramapo College currently has an 86.3 percent retention rate, according to Ramapo’s press release.

 “[T]his new integrative approach to student success promotes shared ownership for educational progress among students, faculty and staff, encompassing services that help students formulate and advance toward educational goals,” states the EDUCAUSE website. “The grant will provide funding for iPASS, including tech-enabled advising, counseling, progress tracking and academic early alerts.”

The grant will focus on improving a program at Ramapo College called Connect. The Connect program is used to identify students who may be having difficulties with their academics. The grant will be released over three years and will amount to $225,000 to make improvements to the Connect program. The program was created in conjuncture with the office of the Provost, the Center for Student Success, Enrollment Management, Institutional Research and Information Technology Services.

“We believe that through faculty and staff partnerships, and our overall commitment to student success, Ramapo can continue to provide high quality experiences while increasing retention and graduation rates of targeted populations,” said Mercer in the press release. “I am proud to say that Ramapo currently has a retention rate of 86.3 percent and this grant will continue to help us advance our goal of increasing graduation rates among underrepresented groups, transfer students and international students.”

“This is a good move for the school,” said senior Kevin Hoffman. “I think that Ramapo does a good job in the beginning to set up students on the right path, but as the years go by, there are less resources to make sure that a student is attaining academic success.”

Senior Paul Grunert disagrees.

"The money from EDUCATE grant is being wasted,” said Grunert. “They should focus more on enriching the academic programs rather than retention rates.”