A new $2.6 million grant at College of the Mainland will help Hispanic students succeed from typing a college application to striding across the stage to receive a diploma.

COM is one of only two Gulf Coast colleges selected by the Department of Education to receive funding under the Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program. This grant will be in the amount of $524,149 for the first year, projected for five years.

“The grant is a collaboration to create clearer pathways for all students, particularly those of Hispanic descent, to succeed,” said Vice President for Student Services Dr. Vicki Stanfield. “It will help students from initial advising to career counseling and helping them understand their end goal.”

Only 96 institutions across the nation received an HSI grant in 2015. A Hispanic-Serving Institution is an eligible institution of higher education that has at least 25 percent Hispanic students. Of COM’s 4,015 credit students enrolled in fall 2015, 27.1 percent are Hispanic.

The HSI grant at COM will provide a financial aid advisor who will visit high schools in the college’s service area and assist students in completing the Federal Application for Student Aid, which is used to determine financial aid at any college or university. This service will be in addition to the COM College Connections advisors at Texas City, La Marque, Dickinson, Santa Fe and Hitchcock High Schools who help students apply to the college of their choice.

At COM, students will learn about maintaining financial aid, financial literacy, credit cards and budgeting.

The grant will also enable advisors to contact COM students earlier and more frequently throughout the semester to ensure they stay on track to reach their goals.

“Advisors and faculty will be working closely together to help students,” said Dr. Pam Millsap, Vice President for Instruction. “For example, faculty and student services staff will together identify struggling students early in each semester so that together we can offer early intervention. All of these efforts ensure students are not overwhelmed by choices but have a clear understanding of what they need to do to finish their degrees or certificates.”

COM will also make online courses more accessible to more students. Other planned projects include software expansion, professional development for advisors and enhanced services in the Student Success Center.

The Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program provides grants to help colleges to expand educational opportunities for Hispanic students and for colleges to enhance their academic offerings, program quality and institutional stability.

“As more Hispanics enroll in college, this grant will provide more services and programs to help them reach their education and career goals,” said COM President Beth Lewis. “Many of the fastest-growing jobs require college education, and COM provides training and support to students seeking to enter rapidly growing fields.”

For more information about the grant, call 409-933-8379.