The hard work had finally paid off.
The Cass Tech High School volleyball standout Lark Tate had earned an academic and athletic scholarship to attend Marygrove College in northwest Detroit this fall. Volleyball practice had already begun, and the 17-year-old planned to live on campus so she could focus on her studies.
But less than a month before she was to begin her freshman year, Lark and hundreds of her classmates learned that the Catholic school was cutting its undergraduate degree program this winter because of financial problems and declining enrollment.
The sudden and unexpected announcement left many students scrambling to find another college. Marygrove, which largely relied on donations from alumni and Catholic organizations, was known for providing financial incentives for underserved populations. About 65% of the students are black.
“There is nowhere else for a lot of these kids to go,” Tate’s mother, Patricia Tate, told Motor City Muckraker. “There are a lot of seniors who are terrified that some of their credits won’t transfer.”
For Tate, it means losing nearly $10,000 in scholarships and attending Macomb Community College.
“It’s heartbreaking because she really liked Marygrove, where they have small class sizes,” Tate said. “The college really messed up a lot of students. It seems like Marygrove could have done something earlier.”
The college announced Wednesday that the undergraduate program would end after this upcoming semester after a consultant’s report this summer suggested the school was in deep financial trouble.
“Regrettably, Marygrove has experienced the same enrollment and financial issues as many liberal arts colleges across the country and the state,” Marygrove President Elizabeth Burns said in a press release. “Vigorous marketing and recruitment efforts have failed to provide sufficient revenue from our undergraduate programs to continue operations as usual. A recent analysis found that Marygrove is not sustainable in its current business model. And undergraduate enrollment is projected to be lower than last fall.”
The discontinuation of the program predominately affects students from underserved communities. About 65% of the students received federal Pell grants, an indicator of financial need.
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Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.