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White House Releases Report to Pressure America's Colleges to Better Support Low Income Students

A recently released report from the White House has found that the country’s colleges and universities need to improve to promote access, opportunity and success for low-income students.

The report found that even among similarly-situated colleges and universities, many differed in their efforts to help Pell students--or low-income students who have received financial assistance through the Federal Pell Grant Program--succeed.

The report also discussed the White House’s current efforts to improve opportunity for the country’s disadvantaged students, specifically:

  • Pell for Accelerated Completion: Designed to help students use eligibility to graduate faster by taking additional courses- i.e. summer courses.
  • On-Track Pell Bonus: Students who take 15-credits per semester will be rewarded with $300 in extra funding to incentivize students to finish degree programs faster.
  • The College Opportunity and Graduation Bonus Program: Bonuses set aside for colleges and universities that enroll a significant number of low-income students.
  • America’s College Promise: Will provide two free years of community college to “responsible” students in pursuit of degrees.
  • Second Chance Pell Pilot Program: a pilot program that will experiment with providing financial assistance to incarcerated individuals when eligible for release in the next five years.

The White House is pressuring states to follow in its footsteps to ensure maximum success and opportunity for low-income students.

"At the state level, we need our states to stop their trend of disinvestment and instead invest more in higher education and training, promote key reforms, and start piloting new approaches to college funding,” said Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr. when discussing the report.

Seventy-two percent of America’s college students, King said, are from America’s richest families while poor students only account for three percent.

"That is an embarrassment. It is a death sentence for our historic promise of social mobility,” he said.

Just 50 of the country’s public universities enroll more than 40 percent of the student body as Pell recipients--and for those that do, many do not ensure that Pell recipients are on track to graduate, resulting in high drop-out rates.

King called upon the country’s education leaders to accept the challenge of breaking down barriers and extending the “promise of freedom more fairly and fully.”

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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