Bryn Mawr becomes charter member of College Board’s effort to increase access for lower-income students

Posted September 3rd, 2008 at 10:14 am.

Bryn Mawr College has a long history of leadership in providing low-income students access to a top-quality liberal-arts education. In its survey of highly selective liberal-arts colleges, the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education ranked Bryn Mawr among the top five institutions in the proportion of low-income students enrolled.

In joining the CollegeKeys Compact, the College has now partnered with the College Board and hundreds of colleges, universities, and school districts throughout the United States as part of a coordinated effort to make sure all students are able to fulfill their education goals.

“What sets this effort apart is the fact that it’s focused on institutions sharing information in an effort to put students first,” says Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Jenny Rickard. “Every college and university in the Compact does an inventory of its programs and procedures for recruiting and retaining low-income students, and shares that information with each other and with participating school districts, so that we can all learn from each other.”

The Compact is an initiative of the College Board. While it is known by many simply as the group that runs the SAT, the College Board is an association composed of more than 5,400 schools, colleges, universities, and other educational organizations. Each year, the College Board provides seven million students and their parents, 23,000 high schools, and 3,500 colleges with major programs and services in college admissions, guidance, assessment, financial aid, enrollment, and teaching and learning.

As one of the early schools to sign on to the Compact, Bryn Mawr has been designated a charter member of the initiative.

“There’s often a hesitancy to join something like this early on because you don’t want to put all this work into it only to have the initiative not really go anywhere,” says Rickard. “But we think this program has great potential, and much of the work involves things that we’d planned on doing ourselves as part of an internal effort to formalize our policies.”

In addition to conducting an inventory of current recruitment and retention efforts regarding low-income students, the Compact calls on the College to:

  • Engage a team of senior leaders to review Bryn Mawr’s current commitments to supporting the college aspirations of students from low-income backgrounds and identify opportunities for expanding those efforts
  • Establish measurable institutional goals for expanding its current efforts to support the college aspirations of students from low-income backgrounds and implement strategies for achieving these goals
  • Monitor and publicly report its progress in achieving its CollegeKeys goals.

“We’re thrilled to have a liberal-arts college of Bryn Mawr’s caliber on board with the Compact this early,” says College Board vice president Ronald Williams. “Ninety percent of high-school students express the desire to attend college. We have to make sure that dream is achievable for all those students, regardless of income.”

Bryn Mawr College consistently ranks among the top liberal-arts colleges in the percentage of students receiving federal Pell Grants, which are awarded to students from families with incomes under $40,000.

The idea for the Compact came out of a comprehensive 2007 report by the College Board’s Task Force on College Access for Students from Low-Income Backgrounds.

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