College Affordability Challenge
COLLEGE AFFORDABILITY, ACCESS, AND SUCCESS
The Federal Government has set goal of increasing the national college attainment rate to 60% by 2025. The National Center on Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) estimates that achieving the President’s goal would require an additional 8.2 million postsecondary graduates by 2020. This goal cannot be achieved until the U.S. provides accessible, affordable college opportunities for low-income students, particularly first-generation college students and their families.
- The cost of higher education has increased dramatically. Student debt exceeds $1 trillion.
- In the 21st century, adults need dramatically different skills to secure career success.
- Existing institutions do not have the capacity to meet this demand.
- Existing institutions have struggled to serve economically disadvantaged students (the four year graduation rate at community colleges is 10%).
- Significant numbers of high school graduates do not have the skills necessary for success in four year colleges.
Recent data from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce demonstrate that, by 2018, 60% of U.S. jobs will require postsecondary education. “By 2018, we will need 22 million new workers with college degrees—but will fall short of that number by at least 3 million postsecondary degrees . . . . At a time when every job is precious, this shortfall will mean lost economic opportunity for millions of American workers.” (Help Wanted: Projecting Jobs and Education Requirements 2010).
Meeting these challenges demands new ways of doing things. I-LEAD Founder and CEO, David Castro, also Education Plus Health board member, SPEAKS best to the changing landscape of college in the 21st century.
Getting individuals into college also requires continued efforts, to reduce the myriad of barriers still faced by many, particularly minority youth in Philadelphia. While the U.S. high school graduation rate has reached an all-time high of 82%, according to the US Department of Education, Philadelphia’s graduation rate still lags far behind at 64% (2015) according to the PA Department of Education.
Research shows that implementing after school programs has a myriad of proven benefits for students and their communities, including college access and entry. The Afterschool Alliance reported that students who participate in 21st Century programs have higher reading and math scores, increase homework completion rates, participate more, behave better, and improve attendance. Similarly, a 2013 university led study found that participating in afterschool programs helps diminish the achievement gap between high-income and low-income student populations. STEM programming is particularly effective in achieving these outcomes and strengthening skills students need to be successful beyond high school.
Education Plus Health works to increase post-secondary attainment among Philadelphia residents that might not otherwise go to college.
The organization starts with high school students, partnering with Building 21 public High School to operate a 21st Century academic after school program during the school year and summer. It is a college preparation program that uses creative writing and STEM classes to help students build their skills and recover credits as necessary, and visit and apply to colleges in Pennsylvania.
(Afterschool Alliance, 21st Century Community Learning Centers: Providing Afterschool and Summer Learning Support to Communities Nationwide, 2015)
Education Plus Health partners with Harcum College and I-LEAD to make college a reality for low-income students across the city. Partnering with non-profit organizations and schools, Education Plus Health brings Harcum College into community-based sites, wrapping students with coaching and support through a revenue share with Harcum College and I-LEAD.
Harcum College delivers a Middle States-accredited associate’s degree program at Education Plus Health and I-LEAD community based sites in Philadelphia.
The Harcum College high-school-to-college pipeline model, facilitated by Education Plus Health and I-LEAD, addresses the 3 primary barriers (geographic access, financial affordability, and cultural accountability) that impede college enrollment or completion. This partnership is a coordinated approach that increases the likelihood that students will receive the full spectrum of services and supports needed.
Education Plus Health works with its partners to create the critical program elements that exist in a successful system of college access and success supports.