Charting a Necessary Path

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Too few low-income and minority students are enrolling in and graduating from college, according to a new report released by The National Association of System Heads (NASH) and The Education Trust.

The report, Charting a Necessary Path: The Baseline Report of the Access to Success Initiative, lays the groundwork to assess progress under the Access to Success Initiative (A2S), an effort begun in 2007 to cut in half the gaps between college enrollment and completion for disadvantaged students by 2015. All members of NASH are part of A2S, which is comprised of 24 higher education systems representing nearly 380 two- and four-year campuses and more than 3 million students.

“Conservatively, the A2S systems would graduate approximately 250,000 more low-income and minority students by 2015 if their access and success gaps already were cut in half – more if they also increased the number of students they enrolled overall and improved graduation rates for all students,” the report said.

The baseline report found that only about 45 percent of low-income and underrepresented minority students in the A2S system who enter four-year universities as freshmen earn bachelor’s degrees within six years, compared with 57 percent of other students in these systems.

Similar gaps were seen in the access and completion rates of minority and low-income students entering two-year institutions, which are often the first stop on the way to a four-year higher education. Even though minority and low-income students are actually overrepresented at two-year schools, the report found that fewer than one-third complete a certificate or an associate’s degree program or transfer to a four-year college within four years.

A2S, with support from NASH and The Education Trust, plans to close the gap by building institutional capacity and resources and mobilizing campuses to address critical issues, among other efforts to make universities more accessible to low-income and minority students and to help them achieve success in school.

Free, 15 pages.