Marygrove College Announces Commitment to Expand College Access at White House Event

David Fike at White House - SquareDETROIT, Dec. 4, 2014—Today, Marygrove College President Dr. David J. Fike will join President Obama, the First Lady, and Vice President Biden along with hundreds of college presidents and other higher education leaders to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.

The White House College Opportunity Day of Action helps to support the President’s commitment to partner with colleges and universities, business leaders, and nonprofits to support students across the country to help our nation reach its goal of leading the world in college attainment.

Marygrove College, along with fellow member institutions of the Yes We Must Coalition (Ferrum College, Trocaire College, Keuka College, Mount Aloysius College, Union College, Bethune-Cookman University, Paul Quinn College, and Metropolitan College of New York),
have committed to increase graduation rates from low-income and first generation students by at least 1,000 additional graduates by 2020.

The Yes We Must Coalition is a three-year-old organization of small, non-profit, private colleges and universities where 50 percent or more of each campus’ undergraduate enrollment is Pell-eligible. The Coalition’s purpose is to share resources, information and promising practices to improve the success of low-income and first generation students and to be a voice for these students in the policy arena.

To help schools in the coalition reach their completion goal, Yes We Must will create an Institute that will work with campuses to develop implementation plans and outcome measures focused in three key areas to build greater support to disadvantaged students. The Coalition will:

  • Explore financial models, including financial aid, revenue generation and cost cutting, for small, underfunded institutions in order to streamline costs, control student debt and stabilize institutional financial health;
  • Improve the curriculum-to-career connection from the beginning of the academic journey and strengthening the career services offered to students throughout their college career; and
  • Develop more streamlined and deliberate pathways to graduation and use learning outcomes assessments that are relevant for these student populations.
    Key researchers and facilitators in the Coalition will assist campuses in researching evidenced-based practices in each of the three areas, and the Institute will provide the opportunity to share, discuss, and adopt promising and effective practices across campuses. The Coalition anticipates seeing changes resulting from their work through the Institute to be implementation ready for students entering in the fall of 2016 with anticipated increases in graduation outcomes from 2020 onward.

Today’s participants were asked to commit to new action in one of four areas: building networks of colleges around promoting completion, creating K-16 partnerships around college readiness, investing in high school counselors as part of the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative, and increasing the number of college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The President will announce new steps on how his Administration is helping to support these actions, including announcing $10 million to help promote college completion and a $30 million AmeriCorps program that will improve low-income students’ access to college. Today’s event is the second College Opportunity Day of Action, and will include a progress report on the commitments made at the first day of action on January 14, 2014.

Expanding opportunity for more students to enroll and succeed in college, especially low-income and underrepresented students, is vital to building a strong economy and a strong middle class. Today, only 9 percent of those born in the lowest family income quartile attain a bachelor’s degree by age 25, compared to 54 percent in the top quartile. In an effort to expand college access, the Obama Administration has increased Pell scholarships by $1,000 a year, created the new American Opportunity Tax Credit worth up to $10,000 over four years of college, limited student loan payments to 10 percent of income, and laid out an ambitious agenda to reduce college costs and promote innovation and competition.

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