At a time when a college education is critical to the success of individuals, the national economy and global competitiveness, far too many smart, hard-working, low-income students are not able to attend college and graduate. In fact, only 8 out of 100 students from low-income families earn a bachelor’s degree by their mid-20s. Stated another way, more than 90% of low-income children in our country start their adult lives with substantially limited opportunities. It shouldn’t and doesn’t have to be this way.
Three factors combine to keep these students from starting — and staying on — the pathway to college completion.
- Many students from low-income families cannot afford the high and increasing cost of college.
- Far too many low-income students do not receive a rigorous K-12 education that prepares them for academic success in college.
- Students from low-income families, many of whom would be the first in their families to attend college, have limited knowledge about college and how best to prepare for college admissions.
The PCC Solution
To address this challenge, three organizations — UNCF (United Negro College Fund), the KIPP network of public charter schools, and CFED (Corporation for Enterprise Development) — each a leader in its field, have come together to form the Partnership for College Completion (PCC). A 2-year PCC pilot was launched in Fall 2010 among 1,600 sixth, seventh and eleventh grade students in 18 KIPP schools in Washington, D.C., Chicago, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Houston.
In Fall 2011, PCC was expanded to target more than 6,500 students, including all students and most grades in the original 18 schools and expansion to New York City. In addition, approximately 20% of eligible 12th graders will be awarded competitive scholarships of up to $12,500. Based on the success of the 2-year pilot, the PCC partners will investigate how to offer the various PCC components to KIPP students in future years.
PCC offers a comprehensive suite of academic, financial and social supports, such as incentivized college savings accounts, financial literacy education, college readiness training and merit-based college scholarships that will follow students from the sixth grade through to college graduation.
To help tens of thousands of students move to and through college and, in so doing, increase the six-year college completion rate for low-income and minority youth from underserved communities from less than 10% today to 40% by 2035.