SOAR: Support, Opportunities, Advocacy and Resources for Nontraditional Students

You may qualify for admission to SOAR if you...

  • Are over age 25 or a parent or veteran
  • Have at least 24 transferrable credits
  • Have a 2.5 or higher GPA
  • Are eligible for financial aid

The SOAR program facilitates entry into UM-Dearborn for non-traditional students who are pursuing their first bachelor's degree. Students who are accepted into the SOAR Program are eligible for a tuition discount for their first three consecutive semesters ... an opportunity to complete 21 credit hours at this discounted rate!  SOAR students also receive a textbook subsidy for the first two semesters.


My SOAR Story
The SOAR Program has changed my life tremendously.
SOAR student Jenine Connors

SOAR Program Details

SOAR Eligibility

Prospective students interested in applying to SOAR:

  • Have at least 24 transferable credits and have a 2.5 recalculated cumulative G.P.A.
  • Be eligible for financial aid and have no student loans in default
  • Provide official transcripts from all previously attended colleges and universities
  • Meet with the SOAR director
  • Provide a letter of recommendation
  • Complete the university application form and SOAR application form
  • Submit a one-page statement of their academic and career goals
  • Complete the FAFSA
  • Be pursuing a first bachelor’s degree
Learning Outcomes
  • Learn to successfully navigate university systems
  • Identify and utilize university  and community resources to enhance their academic experience
  • Improve reading, writing, note-taking, and exam preparation strategies
  • Become adept at using technology to access and communicate information
  • Enhance communication skills to foster productive relationships with faculty and peers
  • Acquire relevant leadership skills
  • Seek out peer, faculty, staff, and community mentors to build a community of support
  • Set realistic goals for academic progression toward degree completion
  • Develop a post-graduation career and/or additional education plan

More about the Program

About Us

Research shows that attaining a college degree is one of the most effective ways to increase earnings and improve one’s standard of living. However, attending and graduating from college is not just a tangible way to become economically secure, it also enriches lives, increases self-confidence, and models the importance of education for families and communities.

The CASL SOAR program provides a pathway for returning adult learners to attend UM-Dearborn who would not be able to do so without the financial and academic support the program offers. Students in SOAR are generally referred to the university by local human service agencies, community organizations, or community colleges. First year SOAR students attend part-time, receive a tuition reduction, and get assistance with purchasing textbooks.  Students also benefit from academic and personal support that continues throughout their tenure as UM-Dearborn students.

Mission Statement

The University of Michigan-Dearborn SOAR Program increases access to post-secondary education for nontraditional adult learners experiencing socioeconomic challenges, facilitates admission to the university using a holistic model, and retains admitted students by providing a wide range of support, opportunities, advocacy and resources.

In partnership with local human service organizations and community colleges, SOAR is a tangible representation of the University’s Metropolitan Vision to provide access to higher education, advance economic prosperity, and grow the number of college educated individuals in southeastern Michigan (Revised 2019). 

Staff and Advisory Board

Lila Amen
District Community Liaison
Dearborn Public Schools

Hoda Amine, Ph.D., LMSW, CSW
Director of Dearborn Counseling Services

Lisa Andrews, M.A.
CASL Advising
University of Michigan-Dearborn

Francine Banner, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Sociology
University of Michigan-Dearborn

Kerri Barnett-Novak
Student Services Administrator
Wayne County Community College District

Suzanne Bergeron, Ph.D. 
Helen M. Graves Collegiate Professor of Women's Studies and Social Sciences
University of Michigan-Dearborn

Susan Cushnier, M.A.
University of Michigan-Dearborn

Keith Dye, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, African and African American Studies, History
University of Michigan-Dearborn

Ivy Forsythe-Brown, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Sociology
University of Michigan-Dearborn

Susan Gedert, B.A.
CASL Marketing and Digital Content Specialist
University of Michigan-Dearborn

Roma Heaney, M.A. (Chair)
University of Michigan-Dearborn

Martin J. Hershock, Ph.D. (ex-officio)
Dean, College of Arts Sciences & Letters
University of Michigan-Dearborn

Ellen Judge-Gonzalez, M.A. (ex-officio)
Director, SOAR Program
University of Michigan-Dearborn

Lisa Martin, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Women’s & Gender Studies, Health Policy Studies
University of Michigan-Dearborn

Pam McAuslan, Ph.D.
Professor, Psychology
University of Michigan-Dearborn

Judith Monroe, M.A.

Gerald Moran, Ph.D.
Professor, History
University of Michigan-Dearborn

Saleemah Morris
SOAR Student Representative
University of Michigan-Dearborn

Cheryl Powell, B.S.
Associate Director – Financial Aid
University of Michigan-Dearborn

Rebecca Richardson, B.A.
Program Assistant – SOAR Program
University of Michigan-Dearborn

Britta Roan, M.S.
Senior Career Counselor
Career Services
University of Michigan-Dearborn

Trisha Schlaff
Special Events Manager
University of Michigan-Dearborn

Ofelia Torres
SOAR Student Representative
University of Michigan-Dearborn

Esther Lee Wyatt, M.A. 
Wayne County Community College

Contact Information

1038 CASL Building
313-593-3960   Fax: 313-593-5552

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