"I also ask this Congress to support our efforts to enlist colleges and universities to reach out to disadvantaged children starting in the sixth grade so that they can get the guidance and hope they need so they can know that they, too, will be able to go on to college."
--President Clinton, State of the Union address, January 27, 1998
The Urgent Need for High Hopes: College graduates can expect to earn at least $600,000 more over their lifetime than high school graduates. This amount has doubled in the past fifteen years and is expected to grow, making college education more important than ever before. [Census Bureau, 1993] However, high-achieving students from low-income families are five times less likely to attend college than students from high-income families. [National Education Longitudinal Survey (NELS) 1998]
The High Hopes Initiative: President Clinton recently announced High Hopes for College -- an initiative that will inspire more young people to have high expectations, to stay in school and study hard, and to go to college. This initiative, which is moving through Congress with bipartisan support, makes a long-term investment (starting with $140 million in FY99) to promote partnerships between colleges and middle or junior high schools in low-income communities. Through High Hopes, children would receive the support they need starting in 6th or 7th grade and continuing through high school graduation, as well as early notification of their eligibility for student financial aid.
High Hopes would provide 6-year grants, through a competitive process, to support locally designed partnerships aimed at increasing college attendance by low-income youth. While High Hopes partnerships will reflect each community's needs and resources, to be most effective, the programs would be based on the following proven strategies:
Among high-scoring, low-income students who do not plan to attend college, nearly 60 percent cite an inability to afford school as the reason. [NELS 1998]
A recent survey found that the public overestimates the tuition of public two-year colleges by about three times ($2,330 above the actual average tuition), and it overestimates the tuition at public four-year colleges by two times ($3,148 above actual average tuition). [American Council on Education, 1996]
About 80% of children whose parents read materials about financial aid go on to college, compared to only 55% of children whose parents do not read this material (among 12th graders interested in continuing their education after high school). [NELS 1998]
Although taking algebra by the 8th grade is considered a gateway to college preparatory courses, only 15 percent of low-income students enroll in algebra by the 8th grade. [National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 1996]
Remedial education at the college level is expensive. Texas alone spent $153 million on college remedial programs in 1995-96 -- more than enough money to pay for the first year of the High Hopes initiative, which would help students across the nation prepare for college. [NCES 1996, and Chronicle of Higher Education, 7/2/96]
These partners would provide information about what it takes to go to college and would introduce students to the college environment through campus visits, summer programs, and after-school activities that will help students stay on track.
Studies of similar programs that start early and provide sustained, comprehensive support services have shown that low-income students who participate are more likely than their peers to graduate on-time and enroll in college, and they are less likely to skip class, drop out of school, or begin using illegal drugs or alcohol. [Public/Private Ventures, Making a Difference, 1995, and I Have a Dream Foundation Report, 1995.]
High Hopes Complements Other Early Intervention Programs. High Hopes is different from TRIO and other early intervention and mentoring programs -- High Hopes starts early and stays with children through high school with comprehensive services, it works with entire grades of children rather than pulling out a select few, and it is aimed at creating a new national ethic that all colleges have a responsibility to partner with low-income middle schools.
Broad Support for High Hopes: The High Hopes initiative, a top priority for the Administration, has strong support in Congress and from a broad range of colleges and universities, education associations and community organizations. Endorsements include: