Student Success for All: Support for Low-Income Students at an Urban Public University


  • Mark Potter Metropolitan State University of Denver



Equity, attainment, partnerships


Although federal financial aid has increased in recent years, the costs of college tuition and living expenses have increased even more, leaving larger numbers of students with unmet need. Restructuring of financial aid, however, is insufficient to address the problem of diverging attainment gaps between low-income students and their more advantaged peers. Low-income students share patterns and traits that put them at greater risk of dropping out of college. In response, the Lumina Foundation published the report Beyond Financial Aid, which identifies six strategies for supporting low-income students, offers examples of how those strategies may be implemented, and provides an institutional self-assessment tool. At Metropolitan State University of Denver, a cross-functional team of faculty and staff at MSU Denver gained considerable insight by using and discussing the Beyond Financial Aid assessment tool. The action plan that emerged from the team’s work consists of five goals: Take advantage of easy wins; use data to know our low-income students; increase broad-based support for low-income students; foster culture change; and enhance financial literacy. Additionally, MSU Denver has leveraged partnerships to strengthen support for its low-income students as a natural extension of the University’s regional stewardship mission.

Author Biography

Mark Potter, Metropolitan State University of Denver

Dr. Mark Potter is Associate Vice President for Undergraduate Studies at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He holds a PhD in History from UCLA and has been a history professor and department chair at the University of Wyoming as well as founding director of the Center for Faculty Development at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He is responsible in his current position for multiple offices that advance student success and foster high impact practices.


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