Carolina Joins Accessibility Alliance for Lower-Income Students

The University is helping launch a new alliance that aims to make a college degree possible for more students, regardless of their ability to pay.

The effort — the American Talent Initiative, which is being supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies — aims by 2025 to attract, enroll and graduate 50,000 additional high-achieving, lower-income high school students at the 270 U.S. colleges and universities with the nation’s highest graduation rates. Thirty institutions, including other public flagship schools, private universities and liberal arts colleges, make up the founding members; more top-performing campuses are expected to be added later.

Each year, an estimated 12,500 lower-income high school graduates with outstanding academic credentials do not attend a school where at least 70 percent of students graduate. Research shows that when such students attend schools with strong graduation rates, they are more likely to earn degrees and find leadership opportunities.

“For over a decade, through the Carolina Covenant, we have offered low-income students the opportunity to graduate without debt,” Chancellor Carol L. Folt said. “The program’s academic and wellness support services have fostered student success and helped improve graduation rates.”

Carolina also meets 100 percent of the documented need of undergraduates qualifying for need-based aid who apply on time, meeting more than two-thirds of that need with grants and scholarships. It remains, Folt noted, “one of the country’s few public universities that is both need-blind in admissions and meets the full financial need of every eligible student we admit.”

Other founding initiative members include Duke University, Davidson College and the flagship publics in California, Michigan, Texas and Maryland. Bloomberg Philanthropies awarded a $1.7 million, multiyear grant to the initiative, which is co-managed by the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program and Ithaka S+R. Both not-for-profit organizations will study practices that lead to measurable progress and report results in regular publications. Founding members will share best practices about recruiting and supporting lower-income students and contributing to research to help other schools succeed.


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