Detroit’s WSU makes it easier for former students to return, finish degree

Wayne State University has developed a program to help students who left with debt and no diploma come back and finish what they started

Mar 30, 2023 at 10:01 am
click to enlarge Wayne State University’s Detroit campus. - Shutterstock
Shutterstock
Wayne State University’s Detroit campus.

Everyone starts college with pretty much the same dream — to earn a degree and have a better life. But sometimes life gets in the way, and dreams get postponed.

One institution, Wayne State University, has developed a program to help students who left with debt and no diploma come back and finish what they started.

The program is called Warrior Way Back. It offers former students an opportunity to re-enroll and have some of their student debt forgiven.

Amber Greenway Neher is the coordinator of Warrior Way Back. She said people need a second chance.

“A lot of this work is about relationships — not just with the university, but with higher education in general,” said Neher. “Because it is that one small thing happened. What seems to the university to be one small thing, but life happens. A family member dies, you lose a job, and things just kind of snowball from there.”

Neher said about 500 students have re-enrolled under the program, and more than 150 have earned their degrees.

She said they recently expanded debt forgiveness from $1,500 to $4,000, giving more students an opportunity to return.

Neher said one of the challenges of the program is to locate former students and tell them about the program.

She said the Warrior program lists about 6,700 students who enrolled but did not complete their degrees.

“Getting the word out is a big challenge, especially with an adult learner population,” said Neher. “So most of the students who we serve or who benefit from this program are usually over the age of 25, and there’s really no streamlined ways to connect with them.”

Neher said the program focuses on helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds or marginalized communities.

“We know that students in the program are, compared to our general student population, disproportionately Black or African American,” said Neher. “So that’s a really important piece to take away from it, too. This is really critical, targeted work that’s really playing into Wayne State University’s commitment to socioeconomic mobility.”

For more information or to see if you qualify, click on go.wayne.edu/wayback.

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