How Best To Serve Pell Students? These Colleges Know How

The Pell Partnership, our latest report, has been noted for “debunk[ing] the notion that Pell grants are somehow being wasted.” And it’s true. Quite a few colleges and universities across the country are serving low-income students well — that is, they are graduating them at the same rates as (or in some cases, even better than) their peers from high-income families.

We spoke with nearly a dozen of these schools to learn more about how they recruit, support (academically and financially), and otherwise ensure low-income students a fair chance at a postsecondary degree. We featured two schools in the report — Western Oregon University and Smith College — but here’s a few of the common themes we heard in other conversations:

Help students build their support networks. Students who participate in the Educational Opportunity Program (a program available at many colleges to support low-income and first-generation students) often come to campus underprepared. At California State University–Stanislaus, nearly three-quarters of EOP students are required to take remedial English or math. Four years ago, to boost success in these courses and long-term retention, officials at Stanislaus decided to try a new approach: Once students finish their remedial English courses, they are enrolled in their first credit-bearing English course — with the same professor and the same classmates. “It becomes a learning community for this group of students … to stay with each other for the whole year,” said Martyn Gunn, associate vice president for student affairs. This year, officials are looking to expand the same concept to math.

Read the entire post on Ed Trust's blog, The Equity Line.