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December 17, 2018

Holy Cross, WPI join group targeting low-income enrollment

Photo | Grant Welker The College of the Holy Cross

Colleges graduating at least 70 percent of their students within six years are a select group of less than 300 nationally.

Two of them, College of the Holy Cross and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, have joined a consortium of such schools seeking to educate lower-income students. By 2025, the group, the American Talent Initiative, has a goal of educating 50,000 additional such students.

Holy Cross in Worcester said Monday it has joined the initiative and will develop a plan in the coming months to recruit more students from economically diverse backgrounds, increase the rate at which they apply for financial aid and ensure they continue to graduate at a high rate.

The college must do all it can do reach out to lower-income and first-generation students to break down real or perceived barriers in the higher education system, said Margaret Freije, the Holy Cross provost.

Holy Cross says it has a 92-percent six-year graduation rate.

WPI had already committed to the American Talent Initiative. The school said it has created a new scholarship program for high-achieving Worcester Public Schools students from low- to moderate-income families who are eligible for Pell grants.

WPI said it devoted $850,000 of existing financial resources to launch the program and will provide more holistic support for students in the program once they're on campus. High school seniors are eligible for apply for the fall 2019 semester. WPI has a goal of providing the scholarships for up to 50 students per year once it eventually expands the program to other areas across the country.

The American Talent Initiative said Monday the program's first two years has already led to enrollment of 7,300 more low-income students.

The group includes five other Massachusetts colleges: Amherst College, Boston University, UMass Amherst, Smith College and Williams College. The initiative, which now has 108 members, is funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

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