Grant allows students impacted by COVID-19 to go back to school

An interdisciplinary team* of LU professors has secured a $600,000 grant to support students forced to quit school due to the impact of COVID-19.

Two installments of $300,000 from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Texas Reskilling

Mamta Singh
Dr. Mamta Singh with students

Support Fund Grant have been awarded to support students forced to abandon their educational goals due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initial TRSFG grant funding, $300,000, was awarded in December 2020 to support final funds to 200 LU students completing undergraduate degrees in accounting, computer science, criminal justice, teacher education and nursing.

“The pandemic has been difficult for students across the world, but within Southeast Texas the financial challenges have been exasperated by recovery from the multiple natural disasters,” said Judi Mann, assessing and planning and principal investigator on the grant funding. “Many Lamar University students have had to step back from their dreams.  The multi-disciplinary faculty, that have worked with this project, have a passion for facilitating students’ transition to financial stability through degree completion.”   The second $300,000 installment became available in February 2021 to support additional 200 LU students from five LU colleges completing undergraduate degrees with priority for students pursuing degrees that will lead to high-value workforce occupations.

“More than 600 LU students, within 30 credit hours of completing their undergraduate degrees, have been forced to abandon their educational goals and career aspirations. They’ve had to go out and support themselves through underemployment,” said Dr. Mamta Singh, an associate professor of science education in teacher education in the College of Education & Human Development at Lamar University and lead principal investigator on the grant project. “With these funds we are supporting these undergraduate students to finish their degrees so that they can pursue professional dreams.”

Between $500 and $2,500 will be provided to eligible candidates at LU with financial support in the form of a scholarship (tuition & fees) during the final year of their degree programs. The TRSFG funds are designated for LU students entering their last full year of school with a preference for students seeking degrees that will lead to high-valued occupations within Southeast Texas and students with the greatest financial need.

Stacey Knight
Dr. Stacey Knight

“COVID has impacted students negatively in so many ways,” said Dr. Stacey Knight, assistant professor and director of Articulation in the JoAnne Gay Dishman School of Nursing and one of principal investigators on the grant funding. “Hopefully this will help them get back on track in pursuing their educational goals. Although the grant provides funding for students from many degree programs, I am particularly grateful it is extended to nurses who are trying to obtain a higher degree and have been working on the front lines fighting the pandemic.  It’s an honor to provide this opportunity.” 

Approximately 85% of COVID-19 impacted students at LU qualify as need-based financial aid. The team of researchers* is working closely with the Office of Student Financial Services to identify the eligible candidates.

In order to receive TRSFG funding, students must:

  • be Texas residents eligible for in-state tuition as determined by the institution.
  • have filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
  • have a financial need and be eligible for federal Title IV aid; students who are enrolled in short-term non-eligible Title IV workforce credential programs but who are otherwise Title IV eligible may be included.
  • have affirmed they were affected by COVID-19; LU has established processes for determining COVID-19 impact.
  • be enrolled in an eligible undergraduate or short-term workforce credential program on either a full-time or part-time basis.
  • not be enrolled in an accredited post-secondary institution in the previous academic (long) semester or previous six months; and
  • be within twelve months of completing their credential program.

“These grants gave me opportunities to serve Lamar University and help our eligible Cardinals to graduate,” said Singh. “Personally, it was a satisfying and rewarding experience to provide the needed assistance to our hard-working students.”

Investigators/Research Team and discipline*
Lead Principal Investigator: Dr. Mamta Singh, teacher education/professional pedagogy

Principal Investigator: Dr. Judith Mann, planning and assessment
Principal Investigator: Dr. Stacey Knight, nursing

Investigators:
            Dr. Robert Worley, sociology, social work, criminal justice
            Dr. Cynthia Stinson, nursing
            Dr. Francisco Badua, accounting and business law
            Dr. Freddie Titus, teacher education/professional pedagogy
            Dr. James Curry, industrial engineering
            Dr. Nicki Michalski, communication