White House hosts college leaders committed to helping low-income students

McClatchy Washington BureauJanuary 16, 2014 


U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at an event on expanding college opportunity in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next to the White House on January 16, 2014 in Washington, DC.


President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama will host an all-day gathering at the White House on Thursday on expanding college opportunity for low-income students.

More than 80 college and university leaders are attending, and all of them have made a commitment to do more at their schools to help disadvantaged young people to get into good colleges and succeed, National Economic Council director Gene Sperling told reports on a conference call Wednesday night.

The event is part of what the president calls his “year of action,” even if cooperation with Congress isn’t possible, Sperling said.

“It’s very important to recognize how critical this issue is to the cause of increasing economic mobility in our country,” he said on a conference call Wednesday night previewing the all-day event at the White House on Thursday.

Research shows that a person born in poorest 25 percent of Americans has only a 9 percent chance of graduating from college, while those in the wealthiest 25 percent have a 54 percent chance, Sperling said.

“We’re a country that does not believe the outcomes of your life should be overly determined by the accident of your birth. Yet these statistics show that to make good on that we have to do much more as a country to give more young people a chance to succeed in college,” he said.

The commitments the White House received from schools and foundations fill an 89-page document. They were made in four areas, the White House said in a press release: Connecting more high-achieving low-income students to selective colleges and helping make sure they graduate; increasing the pool of students getting ready for college; helping low-income students get advising and test preparation as they get ready to apply; and improving remedial post-high-school programs.


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