Washington Update

Obama Administration Addresses College Access for Low-Income Students

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Colleges and organizations participating in a recent White House summit meeting on higher education committed to a range of actions to help low-income students, including providing more scholarships to those pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) fields.

The Jan. 16 summit was held as part of President Obama and the First Lady’s call to make college more affordable. The administration sees college affordability as key to increasing economic mobility, which Obama has sought to make a central issue during his second term.

“With the growing demand for college-educated workers, a college education is one of the surest ways into the middle class… We can and must be doing more to get more low-income students prepared for college, enrolled in quality institutions, and graduating,” the White House said in a report released in connection with the summit.

At the event, 100 colleges and 40 organizations unveiled a variety of other promises, including a pledge by the National College Advising Corps to provide college counseling to an additional 80,000 students. The Department of Education spelled out its own steps, ranging from urging colleges to place work-study students into college-counseling and college-mentoring jobs to sharing data with states on completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This would help states and school districts to identify which students have not completed the form and raise completion rates through targeted interventions.

Colleges and organizations also committed to helping low-income students connect to and graduate from college; expanding early intervention efforts to broaden the number of students preparing for college; expanding college advising and test preparation efforts; and enhancing remedial education.

The administration is planning a future series of smaller gatherings, along with a report and a follow-up summit.
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