MHC to Boost Access for Low-Income Students

Thursday, January 16, 2014 - 14:45
In this screen shot from the White House video feed, the audience (including President Pasquerella at top left) listens to presentations at today's education summit.

President Lynn Pasquerella joined some 140 other college and university presidents at the White House today for a summit on increasing access to college for low-income and disadvantaged students. President Obama and the First Lady were among the speakers at the daylong event.

“It is important, especially for women’s colleges, to have a place at the table,” President Lynn Pasquerella told the Daily Hampshire Gazette earlier today. “We can all benefit from sharing best practices and making clear the obstacles we face in attempting to achieve our shared objectives of promoting access and affordability.”

New Initiatives

Mount Holyoke’s response to the White House’s call to action includes these new initiatives:

  • Mount Holyoke will give a full tuition scholarship to all new Frances Perkins Scholars (approximately 25–30 students each year, a commitment of more than $1 million annually). These nontraditional age students will also receive extensive support from an enhanced advising program.
  • Mount Holyoke will expand and diversify college-community partnership efforts that increase access for low-income students in western Massachusetts. These include several programs that bring current MHC students and faculty into urban schools to boost awareness of college opportunities and help K-12 and community college students prepare themselves academically for a bachelor’s degree.
  • Mount Holyoke’s president, Lynn Pasquerella, will support access and affordability for low-income, first-generation college students across Massachusetts as a member of the Governor’s Commission on Higher Education Quality, Efficiency, and Finance.
  • Mount Holyoke will explore expansion of its current Posse Program, which provides full scholarships to academically promising students in collaboration with the Posse Foundation.

Continuing Initiatives

These new initiatives continue and enhance Mount Holyoke’s long-term commitment to support success for students of all socioeconomic backgrounds. These include:

  • An NSF-funded project that increases the number of low-income students transferring from community colleges and pursuing science and technology disciplines.
  • The Lynk, a comprehensive curriculum-to-career initiative that prepares students for life and career with goal-setting advice, a paid internship experience, professional development guidance, and help with the post-graduation transition.
  • Admission and financial aid practices that support access for low-income and first-generation college students.
    • Sixty-eight percent of our students received need-based aid in 2013–2014.
    • The College spends some $48 million annually to provide need-based student grants and scholarships.
    • Twenty percent of students in 2013 were first-generation college students.
    • More than one-quarter of current domestic students receive Pell grants, and these women graduate at an even higher rate than the overall student body.
    • Substantial financial aid allows 30 percent of graduates to leave MHC with no student debt; the rest have an average student debt that is almost $3,000 below the national average.