25 Illinois colleges team up to improve attainment
- A group of 25 public and private, two- and four-year colleges in Illinois want to close the gap in graduation rates for disadvantaged students by 2025, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Participants include the University of Illinois' campuses in Chicago and Champaign-Urbana, DePaul University and all seven City Colleges of Chicago.
- As part of the Illinois Equity in Attainment Initiative, the institutions will offer financial aid packages that meet the specific needs of low-income students, clearly map out degree paths to help students graduate on time and make the campus community more inviting to students from underrepresented backgrounds.
- State data show 66% of white students in Illinois earn a bachelor's degree in six years, double the share of black students (36%) and more than that of Latino students (48%) who do so. The ratios are similar for associate degrees. About 37% of low-income students get a bachelor's degree in six years, about half the share of students from wealthier families.
A 2017 report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC) showed a wide disparity in graduation rates among students at two- and four-year institutions. About 55% of all students who entered college in fall 2010 completed a degree or certificate within six years, and about 63% of white and Asian students finished in that time. Hispanic and black students had six-year graduation rates of 46% and 38%, respectively.
At four-year institutions, specifically, black men had the lowest six-year completion rate (40%) and Asian women the highest (75%), according to NSCRC data.
Colleges should be doing more to help low-income students graduate, writes Bridget Burns, executive director of the University Innovation Alliance, a national consortium of 11 universities aiming to improve outcomes for students from all socioeconomic classes, in The Washington Post. Yet popular college rankings haven't historically graded institutions favorably for efforts to recruit and retain low-income and minority students, who may have lower test scores, for example.
Burns recommends publicizing efforts to improve outcomes for low-income students, rethinking how current rankings measure such efforts, and expand the focus of helping low-income students gain acceptance to and succeed in college from private institutions to public institutions as well.
A bipartisan legislative committee in Ohio this week made other recommendations with a similar goal of lowering the cost of a college education, thereby making it more accessible. Its many recommendations include offering tuition guarantees that cover room and board, reconsidering the necessity of certain fees and ensuring a degree can be completed in a reasonable amount of time. They also call for varying the tuition structure for degrees based on their cost to the institution, and for replacing tuition freezes with caps on increases.