Dixie State University helps students finish college through Degrees When Due initiative

By Jyl Hall

Dixie State University has partnered with Degrees When Due, a national initiative led by the Institute for Higher Education Policy, to help students who have some college credits complete their degrees.

As one of the colleges and universities from eight states comprising the inaugural Degrees When Due cohort, Dixie State will provide targeted support while re-engaging with students who have paused their studies. DSU’s participation in the initiative is facilitated through the Utah System of Higher Education; the University of Utah, Utah State University and Utah Valley University are also participating in Degrees When Due through USHE.

“We want to better serve the community, and this is an opportunity that will help us meet the goals and educational needs in our region,” Ryan Hobbs, Dixie State’s director of distance and digital learning, said. “During the two-year timeline of the Degrees When Due initiative, Dixie State will be able to take advantage of resources that will help us identify and better serve learners to obtain a degree and increase their awareness of an array of resources at Dixie State to help them continue their learning.”

The initiative will grant Dixie State access to a variety of resources to help more students complete their degrees and will help the university audit students’ previously earned and transfer credits to determine the most efficient course of action for them to take to earn a degree. The program will benefit the more than 30,000 individuals in Washington and Kane counties who the Utah Department of Workforce Services has identified as having some college, but no degree.

Nationwide, Degrees When Due seeks to help the nearly 4 million students. The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found that each year almost one in five students enrolled in a postsecondary program falls short of earning a degree or credential. Many of these students stop taking courses due to factors such as financial challenges, work and family obligations or other personal commitments and are more likely to be women, minorities, first-generation students or individuals from low-income households.

“When a college student becomes a graduate, she moves closer to realizing her full potential. But when she pauses her studies, even after earning enough credits, and never receives her degree, that potential becomes much harder to realize,” IHEP President Dr. Michelle Asha Cooper said. “Through Degrees When Due, we’re helping schools build the capacity to help more low-income students and students of color cross the degree-completion finish line.”

Together, Lumina Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates, and ECMC Foundation have invested $5.8 million to support this endeavor to ensure that states and institutions can participate at no charge.

“Dixie State University’s participation in Degrees When Due aligns well with our strategic plan and current initiatives directed at serving adult learners, businesses and organizations,” Hobbs said. “We are excited to offer these additional resources and make a difference in more students’ lives.”