In the United States, fewer than 10% of students from low- to moderate-income families graduate from college by their mid 20's. This rate does not keep pace with that of other industrialized nations, and the United States is facing an alarming education deficit that threatens our global competitiveness and economic future.3 President Obama has framed this issue as essential to our economic future and set a goal to ensure that at least 55% of young Americans earn a degree by 2025.
Scholarship and academic preparation alone are not enough to support low- to moderate-income students in this undertaking. Financial education, planning and savings are key elements of college completion. In order to increase the number of students who successfully earn a degree, support needs to be provided for them not only to get into college but also to persist, pay for and complete their degrees. To complement this holistic effort, research that enables educators to identify the issues that prevent students from pursuing college and develop interventions to address these issues are needed.
Our strategy supports programs that provide academic preparation to increase enrollment and success in obtaining a college degree; provide financial education to students and their families about saving for college and strategies for financing a college education; and assist low- to moderate-income students through the search, application and financial aid processes. Further, we seek to support research efforts that lead to viable solutions that will increase the college graduation rate in the United States.
In 2012, the Citi Foundation invested close to $7 million in support of programs that generate a dramatic and sustainable increase in the number of first-generation students and those from low- to moderate-income families who are meeting the academic, financial and social milestones to enroll and complete a postsecondary degree.
1 Hecker, Daniel E. "Occupational employment projections to 2012 (Monthly Labor Review)". Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, November 2005.
2 Knapp, Laura G. et al. "Enrollment in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2009; Graduation Rates, 2003 & 2006 Cohorts; and Financial Statistics, Fiscal Year 2009 (NCES 2011-230)." U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch.
3 College Board, Advocacy and Public Policy Center in collaboration with the National Conference of State Legislators. "The College Completion Agenda: State Capitals Campaign 2011." Retrieved from Completionagenda.collegeboard.org