Iowa State University announces commitment to expand college access at White House event

AMES – Iowa State University will share its goals for expanding access and improving graduation rates at today’s White House College Opportunity Day of Action in Washington, D.C.

Senior Vice President and Provost Jonathan Wickert will join President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and hundreds of higher education leaders in announcing actions to help America lead the world in college attainment.  

Iowa State’s commitments include:

  • Raising an additional $85 million over the next three years for student financial aid, with a significant portion invested in low-income students
  • Increasing enrollment of diverse students
  • Expanding the university’s Science Bound program to increase the number of ethnically diverse and low-income students who pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields
  • Improving access and completion for students of all socioeconomic backgrounds through membership in the University Innovation Alliance
  • Using predictive analytics to quickly identify at-risk students, which will improve first-year retention and six-year graduation rates
  • Expanding programs like learning communities that are proven to improve both retention and completion, while also enhancing the sense of belonging on campus

“College accessibility and degree attainment are central to Iowa State University’s mission as a leading land-grant institution,” said President Steven Leath. “Through these commitments, I am confident Iowa State will play a significant role in improving the number of Americans earning college degrees.”  

Day of Action 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, and increasing the number of college graduates in STEM fields.

Expanding opportunity for more students to enroll and succeed in college, especially low-income and underrepresented students, is an important goal for institutions across the nation. Today, only nine 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.

President Obama will announce new initiatives to support these actions, including $10 million to help promote college completion and a $30 million AmeriCorps program to improve college access for low-income students. Today’s event is the second College Opportunity Day of Action, and will include a progress report on the commitments made at the first event in January.