By Abby Spegman

The Bulletin

After being passed over last year, Central Oregon Community College officials were surprised to learn the college had received a $2.25 million federal grant to help students who need remedial math and writing courses and to ensure they return for a second year.

COCC applied in 2015 for the five-year Title III grant, which goes to institutions of higher education with high rates of low-income students. The college was told in December it had been passed over, but heard earlier this month it would get the money.

“Frankly, we were surprised by it. We thought all the awarding had been done,” said Alicia Moore, COCC’s dean of student and enrollment services.

In its application, the college proposed ways to improve remedial education — writing and math courses that students must take before they are ready for college-level courses — and to create extra support for first-year students.

COCC hopes to increase progression and retention rates by 5 percent over five years, according to the grant application.

To do that, the college plans to increase its academic advising, orientation and college success courses — courses in which students learn how to study and manage their time — and to offer these services at all four campuses. Some services will also be developed specifically for Native American and Latino students.

Already the college has added sections of the college success courses, and hundreds more students attended orientation ahead of the fall term this year than last year, according to Betsy Julian, COCC’s vice president for instruction.

“We did not just sit around and wait for the money to come,” Julian said. “Some of what we’re doing was a result of writing the grant, folks were just so convinced this was the right thing to do for students.”

The college is already working to redesign remedial education courses and change how it places students in these courses to ensure students are starting at the right level.

— Reporter: 541-617-7837,