W&J Continues Commitment to Expand College Access at White House Event

Created: December 4, 2014
Last Updated: January 17, 2020

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WASHINGTON, PA (Dec. 4, 2014) – Today, Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) President Tori Haring-Smith will join President Obama, the First Lady and Vice President Biden, along with hundreds of college presidents and other higher education leaders, to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.

The White House College Opportunity Day of Action continues an effort begun last January to bring together the resources of government with colleges and universities, business leaders and nonprofits to support students across the country to help our nation reach its goal of leading the world in college attainment.

Washington & Jefferson College President Tori Haring-Smith said, “Washington & Jefferson College is honored to be a part of this historic effort. W&J has a long history of providing high quality education to those who might not otherwise have been able to afford it. I look forward to working with President Obama and the working group to further expand the reach of financial aid so that we can ensure academic success at the college level.”

To that end, in the coming year, W&J will double the number of students, faculty and staff providing college access and readiness preparation through various local family service centers from 15 to 30. W&J also will seek funding to institute a program that will support general outreach programs and sessions at local high schools on topics such as financial aid and admissions processes, how to begin a college search and what students can expect with regard to college academics.

The College will also support a new intensive mentoring program for low-income students from 14 school districts in Washington County, with an emphasis on first-generation college students, to guide them in selecting an educational institution where they will succeed.

At a 2013 White House summit, Washington & Jefferson College pledged to continue its commitment to expanding college access with the introduction of the Good Neighbor program. The program seeks to meet the full demonstrated financial need for all students in the College’s seven surrounding counties (Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland) who are eligible for PHEA grants (a low income education assistance program in Pennsylvania) and who meet certain academic standards. Through the Good Neighbor program, W&J expanded the number of Pell eligible students in the College’s entering class by 50 percent.

Today’s participants were asked to commit to new action in one of four areas: building networks of colleges around promoting completion, creating K-16 partnerships around college readiness, investing in high school counselors as part of the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative and increasing the number of college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Washington & Jefferson College’s newly announced programs will provide additional support to existing financial aid packages (generally consisting of scholarships, grants, loans, work study funds) and other efforts at expanding access to low-income families such as the award winning Magellan program, which provides funding for students of any income to study abroad, undertake research or complete an internship program.

Ninety-three percent (93%) of the Pell-eligible students who graduate from W&J complete their degrees in four years. Perhaps even more importantly, although research shows that low-income students rarely study abroad, more than 33 percent of our Pell-eligible students have been awarded Magellan scholarships, which fully fund independent travel to compete a challenging research project abroad. Roughly one third of W&J’s students are the first in their families to attend college, and W&J is the only Pennsylvania institution in the U.S. News Top 100 liberal arts colleges with more than 20 percent Pell-eligible students. Although other colleges in Pennsylvania have larger endowments, W&J still provides more than $21 million in financial aid each year.

 

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work.

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