Inside Higher Ed. Jan 16, 2014.
The Obama administration on Thursday unveiled more than 100 commitments from colleges and universities and millions of dollars in philanthropic donations aimed at helping more low-income students attend and complete college.
The lengthy list of new promises doubles as the guest list to Thursday’s higher education summit hosted by the White House. In order to attend the daylong event, which will include remarks by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama as well as discussions with top administration officials, college presidents were required to make new pledges, financial or otherwise, to helping low-income students.
The commitments, which span 88 pages, are wide-ranging and span four categories: properly matching low-income students with colleges that fit their qualifications, increasing the pool of high-achieving low-income students, boosting college advising for underserved students, and strengthening remedial education.
The dozens of colleges involved in the summit made new promises to expand need-based aid for low-income students and set goals for increasing their share of those students. They also pledged to host summer enrichment programs and partner with local high schools.
Yale University, for instance, committed to increasing by 50 percent the number of students it enrolls through QuestBridge, a nonprofit organization that that connects high-achieving low-income students to elite universities. Northeastern University will offer 30 new grants to cover the full demonstrated need for low-income students from Boston public high schools who live in neighborhoods surrounding the university’s campus. Morehouse College, meanwhile, committed to piloting a new pre-collegiate assessment model in lieu of the SAT that assesses non-cognitive STEM aptitude.
The administration also secured significant financial commitments from nonprofit groups, corporations, philanthropic organizations and other foundations.
The Posse Foundation, which provides full-tuition, four-year scholarships for students from underserved groups who want to pursue a degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, promised to double its STEM program, providing an additional $35 million in grants to 250 students over the next five years.
In addition, two foundations committed to providing a combined $95 million to help more students complete STEM degrees: the Howard Hughes Medical Institute is providing $65 million over five years and the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust is pledging $30 million over three years.
The College Board made a new pledge to provide “every income-eligible” student who takes the SAT with four fee waivers to apply to college free.
The College Advising Corps, which places advisers in high schools with significant numbers of low-income students, announced a $10 million grant from the John M. Belk Endowment to expand its reach in North Carolina’s rural high schools.
Several corporate sponsors and the Samberg Family Foundation are chipping in $5 million over four years to help career and higher education pathway programs for low-income students.
The National College Advising Corps, which places recent colleges graduates in underserved high schools to assist low-income, first-generation students in applying to college, announced it would grow by more than a third for the coming academic year, adding new 129 advisers serving 38,700 additional students.