New and current nursing and pharmacy students are set to benefit from nearly $275,000 in grant funds to pay for tuition and fees of economically disadvantaged students at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
Living in an impoverished region and fighting a national nursing shortage, it can be difficult to attract enough students from diverse backgrounds to the health sciences. But these funds can go a long way in helping students earn degrees who would not otherwise have had the opportunity, said Florencetta Gibson, director of ULM's School of Nursing.
"We are very excited and looking forward to the drastic impact we can have on the community," Gibson said. The awards include $223,530 for the nursing program and $50,246 for pharmacy, both from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
It has been several years since ULM has received any such federal grants, Gibson said.
Besides helping to alleviate nursing shortages in Louisiana, the funds also can attract more students to the health fields of nursing and pharmacy, said Virginia Eaton, ULM director of graduate studies and research. Health science is a field in which the U.S. often struggles to attract minorities and lower-income students.
Even better, Eaton said, is that all the funds will go straight to qualified current and future students without any administrative overhead.
In nursing, Gibson said, the plan is to help part of the tuition of 50-60 students who are applying to the professional program or already enrolled. Students who apply will be judged based only on need if they are accepted into the program.
Of course, other scholarships and grants also are available to students, she said.
The grant funds originated from the federal Disadvantaged Minority Health Improvement Act of 1990.
Gibson plans to apply for additional funds in future years, but that is dependent on how much funding the federal government makes available each year.
Regardless, the grant should still be a recruiting draw for potential students who may not otherwise be able to afford program but recognize its quality and ULM's efforts to enroll them, assist them and graduate them, she said.