SIERRA VISTA — The Cochise College nursing department recently received a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to provide $640,000 in scholarships for nursing students.
The HRSA Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students program provides funds to schools to make scholarships for full-time, financially needy students from disadvantaged backgrounds who are enrolled in health programs. Cochise College’s Road to Nursing grant through the SDS program will provide $160,000 annually for scholarships that go to disadvantaged students enrolled in the college’s nursing program.
“This is the first time in the history of our nursing program that we got an SDS grant that gives direct scholarships to students,” said Cochise College health sciences director Jennifer Lakosil. “HRSA grants are hard to get. They’re very competitive.”
Cochise College’s grant was one of 100 made nationwide to support students in a variety of accredited health programs, and one of only eight awarded to community colleges. Four SDS grants were given in the state of Arizona, with the other three going to programs at Northern Arizona University.
Jerome Ward, Director of the Cochise College Office of Institutional Research, said this grant is unusual in that all the money will go directly to the students. Oftentimes, grant money is also used to pay for personnel, travel and other program expenses.
“A grant of this size would usually also pay for a coordinator, or perhaps an outside evaluator,” he said. “This grant is more effective in terms of student success because 100 percent of the funds will be directed into nursing student accounts.”
Lakosil said Road to Nursing scholarships for Cochise College students will cover at least 50 percent of each individual’s annual tuition costs. Eligible students must be from a disadvantaged background as defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and legal residents of the U.S. Lakosil said about 90 percent of Cochise College nursing students fit the definition of economically disadvantaged.
Students awarded scholarships must then participate in monthly retention activities and stay in good academic standing while enrolled in at least 24 credit hours per academic year.
“This grant will greatly impact the lives of students pursuing their degrees in nursing,” said Cochise College president J.D. Rottweiler. “This is big news.”
Currently at Cochise College, the cost of tuition, fees, books, uniforms and other expenses is about $8,000 to complete an associate degree in nursing. According to Lakosil, Cochise College has the most reasonably-priced nationally-accredited nursing program in Arizona.
It’s a highly competitive program, too. Only 100 students are admitted each year.
“I always say we’re lucky in that we don’t have to promote our program,” she said. “We attract students because you can get the degree and work right away. Ninety-six percent of our students are working within three months of graduation.”