Southeastern launches Completer Scholarship Program

Contact: Rene Abadie
Date: November 26, 2012 Whitney Bank Donation

HELPING STUDENTS FINISHThe Whitney Bank presented a $10,000 check to the Southeastern Foundation to help start an initiative designed to help fifth and sixth year students graduate from Southeastern. Present at the ceremony were, from left, John Vaughan, vice president, commercial banker; Southeastern President John L. Crain; Cindy Shelton, Whitney retail market president, Hammond Metro Division; Vice President/Branch Manager Daryl Ferrara; Southeastern Vice President of University Advancement Wendy Lauderdale; and Director of Corporate Development Lynn Horgan.


     HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University is launching a scholarship program designed to assist students in finishing degree programs after their financial aid and/or scholarship eligibility runs out.

     With an initial $10,000 donation from Whitney National Bank, the university announced the initiative – referred to as Completer Scholarships -- to raise scholarship support for students who are in their fifth or sixth year of study and/or are within one year of graduation.

     "It is vitally important to both our students and the university that we continue to grow our graduation rates," said President John L. Crain. "We want our students to know that if they make academic progress, they can afford to complete their degrees, and that their efforts will set them on a path to success."

     Whitney Bank, a long-time supporter of the university, was one of the first to support the initiative, donating $10,000 as the inaugural gift toward the completer scholarship program. Whitney Retail Market President Cindy Shelton of Hammond said she inquired what the university needed most.

     "Dr. Crain told me the university's greatest need at this time is scholarship aid for students in their fifth and sixth years of study or within one year of completing their degrees," Shelton said. "These are students who are motivated to complete their programs and graduate, but they need more time and support due to their life circumstances."

     Over 80 percent of Southeastern students receive some form of financial aid, explained Vice President for University Advancement Wendy Lauderdale. After four years or eight semesters, those students lose their eligibility for TOPS and scholarships offered through the Southeastern Foundation.

     "The reality is many of today's university students take longer than the traditional four-year plan to complete requirements for a degree," Lauderdale said. "We're hoping this initiative will help some of these students attain their higher education goals, allowing them the potential to be more successful in their careers and the workforce."

     She said research indicates most students take longer to attain an undergraduate degree for a variety of reasons: more than two-thirds of students are holding down jobs and approximately one-third are working more than 30 hours per week while attending college. Twenty percent are married, and 22 percent have young children for whom they are responsible. In addition, many of these students commute 30 or more miles to campus to attend classes.

     "The need for this program is especially critical as tuition and fees at Southeastern and other state institutions have risen due to decreasing state support of higher education," Lauderdale said.

     The initiative will be funded through support from private, foundation and corporate philanthropic gifts.

     For more information, contact the Southeastern Advancement Office at 985-549-2239.


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