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Elevating Student Success at Scale
Identify institutional barriers to equity and college completion.
Diagnosing Obstacles to Student Success
Increase capacity to implement proven student-success systems and data-driven interventions.
Transforming the Status Quo in Higher Education
Enact systemic change to institutional processes and structures.

Challenges in Front of Us

Institutions hinder their students’ success through policies, practices, and structures that are the key drivers of equity gaps.

Are We The Problem?

3.6 Million

students who enrolled in college in 2018 who will not graduate.


of the students in the 2018 cohort who will not graduate are African American, Hispanic, or from low-economic backgrounds.


of students majoring in STEM fields are African American.


of students wished they had chosen a different major.


Bachelor degree holders make more than those with just a high school diploma.


Four years after graduation, African American students owe more in student loans than their white peers.


National percentage point gap between Pell and non-Pell students who graduate in six years.

Evidence-based, data-driven strategies for Student Success

The NISS provides partner institutions with in-depth diagnostic analyses, implementation support, and learning pathways that enable significant improvements in graduation rates and reductions of equity gaps.

Evidence-based Programs Icon

Evidence-based Programs

Practical know-how developed by subject matter experts who have successfully implemented such programs on their own campuses.

Equity Gap Reduction Icon

Equity Gap Reduction

Innovative and proven approaches for large-scale, positive transformation for students from all backgrounds.

Data Driven Student Support Icon

Data Driven Student Support

Equitable outcomes in the enrollment, retention, and graduation of students from diverse backgrounds through the implementation of data-informed practices

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Predictive Analytics

Holistic data analysis that identifies and addresses institutionally-created completion barriers.

Success by the Numbers

Georgia State is nationally known for pioneering student success programs that have eliminated equity gaps and improved college completion rates for all students.

Drop in summer melt.
Increase in undergraduate degrees awarded annually.
Students tracked daily for analytics-based alerts.
Completion grant recipients who graduate each year.
Reduction in withdrawals from students with a balance when using a Chatbot.
Increase in undergraduate degrees awarded to Hispanic students.
30 points
Increase in retention rate for students in Success Academy.
Majors and programs mapped to career outcomes.
The gap in graduation rates for African American and Hispanic students when compared to their white peers.

“The lessons learned by Georgia State are transferable. The NISS disseminates evidence-based best practices to other colleges and universities and provides a suite of services to support their successful implementation.”

Dr. Tim Renick, NISS Executive Director

How does the NISS help institutions improve student success outcomes?

First-Time Freshman Retention Rates

Average Percentage Point Increase Between Fall 2022 and Fall 2023 Retention Rates

+8.8pp among NISS partners

The NISS’s first group of partner institutions—seven public universities in the University System of Georgia, including three HBCUs—launched the 5-month Diagnostic and Playbook process in 2021 and have had more than a year to implement their Playbook recommendations, most with formal coaching support from the NISS.

All seven institutions saw significant gains in retention rates over the last year, with improvements ranging from 5.1 to 17.6 percentage points.  The average one-year gain of 8.8 points realized by NISS partners was more than two times higher than the 3.6-point gain seen by public universities in Georgia not working with the NISS.

Source: USG by the Numbers Retention Rate Reports

First-time Freshman Retention Trends and Key Highlights

After a steep decline in retention rates across public universities in Georgia during the pandemic, non-NISS partners still lag pre-pandemic numbers by more than 4 percentage points. The NISS partners now exceed pre-pandemic numbers by almost 2 percentage points. These one-year retention gains translate into almost 1,300 additional students enrolled and a $7.6 annual increase in tuition and fee revenues.

Source: 2020-2021, IPEDS; 2022-2023, USG by the Numbers Retention Rate Reports

The NISS Diagnostic and Playbook and service model is instrumental in moving the needle on student success.

The Diagnostic and Playbook process is a 5-month analysis that precedes the formal launch of implementation work. It engages dozens of campus stakeholders, ranging from faculty and student-success staff to the institution’s president and cabinet. NISS partners report that positive changes to their institution’s student-support systems begin during this initial diagnostic phase.

To learn more about our services, please visit our Diagnostic and Playbook services page.

“NISS provided a holistic and data informed assessment of my institution’s current student success strategies. It was a thorough campus-wide effort which supported meaningful dialogue and follow-up….and served as a reminder to everyone involved of the greater good and importance of our collective work.”

Dr. Raymond Clarke

Vice President of Student Affairs Savannah State University

Accomplishments by Georgia Southern University

  •  – New Proactive Academic Interventions increased student engagement levels from 27% to 99%
  •  – Redesign of First-Year Experience Course allows students to develop and apply information literacy skills and to engage with their degree program focusing on career growth, campus resources, and the university community
  •  – Eagle Engage Program: Connects students intentionally to right-fit co-curricular programs, provides easy links to student/advisor resources, and allows programs to easily invite targeted students to specific events

“We intend to increase retention levels above pre-pandemic record rates by implementing NISS recommended retention initiatives such as adopting predictive analytics, introducing the Keep HOPE Alive program, and developing infrastructure to support coordinated, comprehensive student care. Georgia Southern’s retention goal for 2026, with the guidance and support of the NISS, is 81%!”

Kyle Marrero


Accomplishments by Fort Valley State University

  •  – Redesigned Enrollment 101: Equips students with the tools to navigate enrollment.
  •  – Targeted SAP Proactive Coaching: Targeted, data-informed support to help students at risk of losing eligibility for Federal Financial Aid hold on to their Pell Grants and Federal loans.
  •  – Advising Redesign: Is helping more students schedule advising appointments and register on time; Group Advising sessions at the Jones Student Center and library have shown a positive impact in retention.
  •  – Coordinated Communication Channels: Redesigning the use of email and text messages has played a pivotal role in fostering a more connected and informed student body.
  •  – 5.9% One-year increase in overall Fall enrollment

“The implementation of a comprehensive set of strategies has significantly contributed to the improvement of student retention and success within our academic community….By ensuring timely and relevant information reaches students, we have empowered them to make informed decisions about their academic journey, scheduling advising appointments, registering of classes in a timely manner, reducing uncertainty and enhancing their overall experience.”

President Paul Jones and Dr. Timothy Hatchett

Accomplishments by Kennesaw State University

  •  – Restructured ADVISING: Centralized management and reporting; Developed advisor dashboards to track engagement and initiatives; Adopted new advising technology
  •  – METRICS Dashboard: Resulted in 4% growth in student credit hour intensity 
  •  – Early Alerts: 40% of faculty submitted mid-term grades for at least one course, totaling 38% of courses offered (2023)
  •  – uHoo Analytics: D2L-based faculty alert system being developed to facilitate student-success interventions during a semester
  •  – FLIGHT Program: First-year student engagement and identity program created under student affairs
  •  – BLOCK Scheduling: Redesign first-year experience; students select 2 blocks (15-16 credit hours) simplifying registration and ensuring a strong academic start

“Our partnership with the NISS has been a catalyst for change….[There are] six major student success initiatives in progress at KSU that are outcomes of our work with NISS.”

Ivan Pulinkala


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