Black, Hispanic Leaders Stress Need for More Financial Aid; Many High-Achieving Students Still Unable to Afford a College Education. (Washington Update)

Article excerpt

Low-income, high-achieving students face tremendous barriers to success in college, largely due to limited financial aid funds, representatives of Black and Hispanic colleges told Congress last month.

"Let me be very clear--adequate student financial assistance is fundamentally the most important element to assuring access for low-income students," said Dr. Shirley A.R. Lewis, president of Paine College in Augusta, Ga. But financial aid, when combined with strong student support services, is "a winning plan for student access and success," she told the House Education and the Workforce Committee.

"Investing more in HBCU students is about the future prosperity of this nation," Lewis said at the July 16 hearing.

Lewis and others testified before the committee as it examined the merits of a new report, "Empty Promises: The Myth of College Access in America," from the federal Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance. Among other conclusions, the committee says that nearly half of all college-ready, low- and moderate-income high school students will choose not to attend a four-year institution next year.

Of these 400,000 students, a majority will opt for lower-cost two-year schools while 170,000 will not go to college at all.

Such high-achieving students have an unmet need of about $3,800 a year, even if they attend a public four-year college. As a result, despite strong academic credentials, these students "confront daunting financial barriers with major implications for these students and the nation," said Dr. Juliet Garcia, president of University of Texas-Brownsville and chairwoman of the federal advisory panel. …