About 5 percent of all institutions of higher education are known to enroll few low-income students. In an effort to improve graduation rates among low-income students, two U.S. senators are proposing that these colleges either change or pay up — with fines imposed if they fail to increase their low-income student enrollment in four years.
Rewarding colleges that agree to be more fair
The $200 million proposal includes funding more grants, particularly at minority-serving and historically black colleges, to improve graduation rates. Colleges who comply would also receive other rewards, such as bonus points in federal competitive grants or a reduced regulatory burden. Colleges who don’t comply would be fined, which means they would also temporarily lose their access to federal financial aid.
It’s an aggressive proposal that has the support of many higher education leaders. It would mean an opportunity for many low-income students to attend college, an opportunity they might otherwise not have for success in life.
Making “the American Dream” available for everyone
Senator Johnny Isakson, a Georgia Republican, who proposed the legislation along with Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, explains that “higher education should be part of the American dream for those who choose to pursue it.”
Regarding the proposed legislation he added, “We’re working to even the playing field to make sure that’s a reality for students of all economic backgrounds at every college and university in the country.”