At White House, Rutgers University–Newark Announces Commitment to Expand College Access

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NEWARK, NJ  Dec. 4 – Today, Rutgers University–Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor will join President Obama, the First Lady, and Vice President Biden along with hundreds of college presidents and other higher education leaders to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.

The White House College Opportunity Day of Action helps to support the President’s commitment to partner with colleges and universities, business leaders, and nonprofits to support students across the country to help our nation reach its goal of leading the world in college attainment.  

Rutgers University – Newark (RU-N) is committing to significantly increase educational attainment in the City of Newark as a partner in, and coordinating hub for, the Newark City of Learning Collaborative (NCLC).  NCLC comprises more than 60 organizations including higher education (RU-N, Essex County College, and NJIT), coordinated through the Joseph C. Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies at RU-N.  Together, NCLC is committed to increase the percentage of Newark residents with postsecondary degrees from 13% to 25% by 2025—or, in raw numbers, from 29,000 to 50,000.  RU-N, specifically, will increase its enrollment of Newark residents from 6% to 10% among first-year students and from 11% to 17% among transfers.

NCLC and RU-N will accomplish this through a robust network of actions and programs, including:

  • Creating 10 new college centers in high schools, community based organizations and higher education institutions to provide high school students and their families with easier access to information and support as they apply to college including completion and filing of financial aid forms
  • Expanding articulation agreements with two-year schools such as Essex County College, including reverse transfer
  • Strengthening early college high school programs to develop jointly-approved English and math courses
  • Expanding pipeline programs such as Rutgers Future Scholars to increase the number of low-income academically promising students from Newark completing high school and applying to post-secondary institutions
  • Partnering with the Newark Public School district and programs such as Grad Nation to reach and re-enroll “disconnected youth”
  • Identifying adult residents of Newark who have completed some college and building pathways for them to complete high-quality degrees
  • Doubling the number of students attending summer internship programs such as the Newark College Freshman Institute and College Internship Program (from 160 annually to over 300)

“Newark is a city where all of the great challenges facing our relentlessly urbanizing nation can be found, as well as all of the assets to take on those challenges,” Chancellor Cantor says, in pointing to the reasons why NCLC’s efforts resonate powerfully with the President’s national agenda.  “Our greatest asset is the people of Newark, who are an incredibly diverse and incredibly deep and broad talent pool.  NCLC is designed to tap that talent pool to its fullest so Newark can thrive—and that is critical because if cities like Newark don’t thrive, our nation won’t thrive.”

Today’s White House summit 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 as part of the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative, and increasing the number of college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The President will announce new steps on how his administration is helping to support these actions, including announcing $10 million to help promote college completion and a $30 million AmeriCorps program that will improve low-income students’ access to college.  Today’s event is the second College Opportunity Day of Action, and will include a progress report on the commitments made at the first day of action on January 14, 2014.

Expanding opportunity for more students to enroll and succeed in college, especially low-income and underrepresented students, is vital to building a strong economy and a strong middle class.  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. In an effort to expand college access, the Obama Administration has increased Pell scholarships by $1,000 a year, created the new American Opportunity Tax Credit worth up to $10,000 over four years of college, limited student loan payments to 10 percent of income, and laid out an ambitious agenda to reduce college costs and promote innovation and competition.