Despite having the second-highest percentage of students with Pell grants, West Virginia University at Parkersburg has the third highest completion rate among the 12 state colleges offering four-year degrees. This is according to a College Completion website released by “The Chronicle of Higher Education.” The data is from 2010. WVU Parkersburg is the only institution in the data released that that is open enrollment due to its status as a community and technical college.
Comparatively, WVU Parkersburg has 58.3 percent of students using Pell grants with the next highest being 45.3 percent. The Federal Pell Grant program provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate and certain post-baccalaureate students to promote access to postsecondary education.
Although more than half of its students qualify as low-income, WVU Parkersburg still managed to have a comparatively high four-year completion rate, among the state colleges, at 21 percent with the next two highest rates at 23.8 and 33.3 percent. Also according to the data released, WVU Parkersburg had the lowest student spending per completion at $29,605 while the next lowest amount was $52,310.
“We attribute our success for four-year completion to our flexible programs and classes along with our free support services, which enable students to obtain a quality education at an affordable rate,” said WVU Parkersburg President Marie Foster Gnage, Ph.D. “We are still making strides in regard to retention and completion, and I only expect our completion rate to climb.”
“The report underscores the quality of our programs and our strong emphasis on college completion,” said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Rhonda Tracy, Ph.D. “That we can do more with less is a tribute to efficiencies and our wise use of resources.”
WVU Parkersburg provides support to students including free tutoring, counseling, advising, and health and wellness services. In addition, the Student Engagement and Activities division provides a variety of opportunities for students to be involved on campus.
“We know that there is a high correlation between student engagement and student success. Students who feel they are a part of the campus community are more likely to stay,” said Gnage. “Even though we, along with all other state colleges, recently underwent mandated budget cuts, we tried to ensure that student activities and the tutoring center wouldn’t suffer as a result.”
The complete College Completion data report can be found at collegecompletion.chronicle.com.