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President announces new college commitments

Low income students are targeted in new college initiatives.
Low income students are targeted in new college initiatives.
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President Barak Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have joined with leaders in higher education to announce new commitments to expand college opportunity. To help more students afford and graduate from college with the skills they need, the Administration has already taken action including doubling Federal investments in Pell Grants and college tax credits and reforming student loans. Steps to achieve the North Star goal of leading the world in the share of college graduates by 2020 include:

Connecting more low-income students to the college that is right for them and ensuring that more graduate. Over 100 colleges and universities and 40 organizations are announcing new commitments. They include increasing the pool of students preparing for college through early interventions, leveling the playing field in college advising and SAT/ACT test preparation, and strengthening remediation to help academically underprepared students progress through and complete college.

Improving college opportunity is important to increasing economic mobility and growing the economy. Without college, a child born in the bottom quintile has only a 5 percent chance of making it to the top quintile. However, the chance of making it to the top nearly quadruples with a college degree. Improving college success is one of the most powerful tools to increase economic mobility and reduce inequality.

As part of the President and First Lady’s national call to action on college opportunity, over 100 college presidents and 40 non-profits, foundations and other organizations are announcing new commitments in the following key areas:

Connecting more low-income students to the school that is right for them and ensuring more students graduate. Many low-income students do not apply to or attend schools where they are most likely to succeed, often because they are not fully aware of their options available to them. Over 80 colleges and universities and 15 organizations are making commitments in this area, with selected examples including:

• A Doubling of STEM Posse Partner Institutions: The Posse Foundation is announcing a doubling to 10 of its STEM Posse Partner Institutions – serving, over the next five years, 250 additional students from diverse, urban backgrounds who might otherwise be overlooked, providing a total of $35 million in funding.

• College Board Joining with Member Institutions to Offer Four Free Fee Waivers to Eligible Students for College Applications: The College Board is joining with its member institutions to announce that every income-eligible student who takes the SAT will receive four free fee waivers to apply to college for free.

Increasing the Pool of Students Preparing for College Through Early Interventions: Participants have committed to working with students from low income elementary, middle, and high schools to encourage college-going and assist with preparation.

A New $5 Million Effort to Design Pathways to Success for Careers: Deloitte, Darden, Walmart, AT&T, Mutual of America, and the Samberg Family Foundation are committing $5 million over four years to support College Summit, and in particular a partnership called ScholarJob that will help low-income students across America connect getting an education with getting a great career.

$4.5 Million in New Commitments to Redesigned Schools: The Irvine Foundation and Pacific Gas & Electric are making a combined $4.5 million commitment to support the President’s initiative to redesign high schools to include more real-world learning and business partnerships. Goals include matching tens of thousands of students with mentors and rigorous college preparation, allotting $12.5 million in new funding to support excellent STEM teaching, serving 80,000 more college students through the National College Advising Corps, supporting a new effort by Khan Academy to provide college advising support, and providing thousands of additional students with college prep support.

Seeking breakthroughs in remedial education makes a huge difference. While increasing college access is critical, low-income students must be successful once they get there. Far too many students enter college underprepared to succeed, and remediation needs at four-year institutions are greatest for low-income students.

In addition to these steps, the Department of Education is taking actions to help support low-income students. This builds on announcements by the Department of Education at the Higher Education “Datapalooza” earlier in the week.

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