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NC State Chancellor Visits White House; Announces New Initiative to Increase College Enrollment for Low-Income Students

At a White House gathering of leaders in higher education, North Carolina State University Chancellor Randy Woodson today unveils the university’s plan to help low-income students enroll and succeed in college. The plan, dubbed the College Pipeline Initiative, consists of three major commitments: increasing the presence of high school advisers; bridging the performance gap in ACT and SAT scores; and improving four- and six-year graduation rates.

“Higher education is a pathway to success and we’ve made it part of our mission at NC State to help open access to capable students in North Carolina,” Woodson says. “That’s why we’re doubling down on our efforts to work with students who might otherwise think college is out of reach.”

The gathering will be streamed live today from 9 a.m. to noon and from 2 to 4 p.m.

To “open” the pipeline, NC State will partner with the College Advising Corps to scale up efforts to match low-income students with colleges that best meet their needs. Recent graduates will be assigned to work with high schools in underserved communities, help those students understand their options, encourage their success, and assist in the application process for both admission and financial aid. The effort is supported by a three-year, $10 million grant from the John M. Belk Endowment to demonstrate that this successful program can be scaled up for a broad and far-reaching impact.

Students in rural and underserved communities are often frustrated by their inability to successfully compete for college admission. The ASPIRE (ACT Supplemental Preparation in Rural Education) program is designed to bridge the gap in rural high schools’ performance on the ACT. This initiative from NC State and the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service has shown that test scores can be dramatically increased through focused support and meaningful mentorship.

NC State is committed to not only helping these students achieve admission, but also to ensuring their success once they arrive. The university has established living and learning villages, expanded experiential learning opportunities, and increased advisors’ involvement with low-income, first-generation and underrepresented students to improve their four- and six-year graduation rates.

These new initiatives will enhance the programs that NC State already has in place to serve low-income and at-risk student populations, such as:

  • Pack Promise, which meets 100 percent of the financial need for all students who qualify for federal financial aid;
  • Summer START, which offers students the opportunity to complete up to eight credit hours of summer courses and prepares them for the rigors of college life;
  • Raleigh College and Community Collaborative, which works to provide mentoring and educational support to low-income students in districts with low college attendance rates;
  • The Talent Search program that provides hands-on counseling to thousands of middle and high school students in N.C.;
  • NC State’s continued commitment to affordability – the university is frequently cited as one of the most affordable public universities in the U.S. by U.S. News and World Report and other well-known ranking agencies.

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