Retention & Micro Grants

Team Members


Amanda Corsi, Associate Registrar

Jen Long, Director, Career Development

Marci Major, Chair, Department of Music Education and Music Therapy, Associate Professor in Music Education


Michael Bray, Academic Agreements and Contracts Coordinator

Stevie Grassetti, Assistant Professor of Psychology

Harry Holt, Associate Professor of Health

Lindsey Mosvick, Associate Director, Center for Women and Gender Equity

Margaret Ottley, Professor of Sports Psychology

Stephanie Reid, Business Manager, College of Arts and Humanities

Jennifer Ruggiero-Patel, Assistant Director, New Student Programs

Carolyn Sorisio, Professor of Literature

Lisa Yannick, Associate Vice President, Institutional Effectiveness and Planning

Why is this important?

Financial holds are intended to ensure collection of owed balances but often do just the opposite. Students who leave because of holds often do not return to pay their bills. Worse, even relatively small financial setbacks can mean the difference between completing courses and dropping out. (Student Success Playbook, Rec. 2, EAB)

What are we going to do?

WCU will develop plans and processes to award mini-grants or other financial assistance to address small account balances for qualified students. The Participating Institution will set the amount and determine the administrative process for assigning such grants or awards. Student accounts will be reviewed regularly, with grants provided strategically and proactively.

Updates from the Team

April 2024: 

Results from Inquiry Process

  • 10.9% equity gap in unpaid balances
  • No centralized/standard method for distributing emergency funds
  • Amount of emergency funding available across colleges is variable and is not tied college data
  • Campus community is largely unaware of emergency money available and process for requesting emergency funds
  • Students often need to repeat their story to access support
  • Student financial needs are not restricted to funding for tuition
  • Sometimes student financial support is emergent – not something that can be planned proactively
  • Little data available to track ROI


  • Centralization of funds
  • Overall strategy for retention funds
  • Clarity of available funds and access
  • Allows for data collection and evaluation
  • Improved student experience
  • Coordination with financial aid, Academic Support & Advocacy (ASA), and other campus entities to connect students to funds. 
  • Avoid applications or other steps that require students to repeat their story. 
  • Increased funding
  • Funding for non-academic costs: housing, transportation, etc. 
  • Quick access to funds

Next Steps

  • Develop prioritization and implementation strategies
  • Develop and implement communication strategy to better inform campus around financial resources
  • Develop funding sources for microgrants
August 2023:

The Retention Grants team started the year talking about equity more broadly, listening to each other's experiences with equity and using that as a foundation to move forward with the Retention Grants work.  After diving into the data and calculating equity gaps in students with tuition balances not returning to WCU, we identified our two focus areas: Black students with a tuition balance (any amount), and Latin(o)(a) students with a tuition balance greater than $1,000.  This allowed us to refine our inquiry process, and we used mixed methods by way of several interviews and a survey to collect data that will ultimately inform our recommendations for closing those gaps.  

Our next steps in the short term are using the themes from our data collection to submit recommendations to the Advisory Board and Leadership Team.  Longer term, the team is interested in exploring non-tuition expenses that affect student retention, and how grants could have an impact there as well.

September 2022:

We recently started to look at the data provided by WCU, however, we realized that we need to spend more time building relationships and trust within the group, so that we can have more meaningful conversations.