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Harford Community College was awarded $70,768 from the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) to continue a program designed to assist former Harford students to complete their associate degree. The program, entitled “One Step Away,” provides funds to support colleges’ efforts to identify, re-engage, re-enroll, and graduate “near-completer” students. Near-completers are those students who have earned 75% or more credits toward their degree, or may already have enough credits for a degree, but have stopped-out or dropped-out for 12 months or longer without obtaining their degree.

The College will be offering re-enrollment opportunities in this program to more than 400 former students as part of their focused effort to have students complete their degrees.

The grant is a continuation of a successful program funded by the State of Maryland through MHEC since 2013. Concierge advisors will work with “degree eligible” and “degree-potential” students and provide specialized and individualized academic advising to expedite degree completion, assistance with academic appeals, financial aid, registration assistance, transfer credit evaluation, prior learning assessment, and tutoring.

According to One Step Away concierge advisors Roger Hoover and George Budelis, “The One Step Away program is the catalyst for many students to graduate. One student, after finding out how close he was to finishing his degree said, ‘I had no idea I was almost done, thank you for contacting me.’ Another student said, ‘I’d thought about coming back to college for a long time, but wasn’t quite ready to do it. Thanks for giving me the push that I needed.’ Through the One Step Away program, we have identified students who had actually already completed all of their degree requirements, although it may not have been in the major they had originally intended; when we contacted them to offer them their diploma, they were thrilled!”

A new component of the 2017 grant will provide financial support for the full implementation of the College’s Degree Works Student Educational Planner. This software provides students online access to their individualized roadmaps and plans so students stay informed and on track for degree completion.

A collaborative management team responsible for the outreach and student concierge services includes Patrick Elliott, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Services, who is the Project Director; Dr. Diane Resides, Associate Vice President for Student Development; Bonnie Sulzbach, Director for Advising, Career and Transfer Services; George Budelis, Concierge Advisor; Roger Hoover, Concierge Advisor; Megan Cornett, Director for Admissions and Registrar; Amy Spinnato, Director for Financial Aid; Valerie Swain, Director for Institutional Research, Planning and Effectiveness; and Dr. Jacqueline Jackson, Vice President for Student Affairs and Institutional Effectiveness.

According to Patrick Elliott, the grant project director, “Our program helps to graduate students who are stuck near the finish line. Through these efforts, students gain a recognized credential that could lead to increased employment opportunities and lifetime earnings. Our community benefits from an expanded pool of college-educated, prepared, motivated workers to support our knowledge-based economy. It is a win-win scenario. Our program has graduated 166 students since 2014, and we anticipate graduating over 60 more students during the next year of this project.”

The “One Step Away Complete College Maryland State Grant Program” is funded by the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC). This commission is the State of Maryland's higher education coordinating board responsible for establishing statewide policies for Maryland public and private colleges and universities and for-profit career schools. MHEC also administers state financial aid programs that affect students on a statewide basis

Former Harford Community College students interested in learning about their eligibility for completion of their degree can contact George Budelis at GBudelis@Harford.edu or 443-412-2185, or Roger Hoover at RoHoover@harford.edu or 443-412-2206.

For more information, visit http://www.harford.edu/student-services/academic-advising/one-step-away-program.aspx.

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