Minnesota Colleges Target Low Income Students

Carleton College Campus
By Dogs1337, Creative Commons 1.0.

NORTHFIELD, Minn. – Two more Minnesota colleges joined a national campaign designed to enroll a higher percentage of lower income students at their colleges.

This new form of affirmative action is designed to funnel low and middle income students to schools with high graduation rates, reports the Pioneer Press. It is called the American Talent Initiative (ATI) and Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota and the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota are now the newest of its 68 members. The University of Minnesota joined the Initiative back in April.

Rather than targeting the normal graduation time of four years, ATI targets schools which have at least a 70 percent graduation rate over the course of six years, half again as long as a traditional program. This project hopes to include the top 270 schools in the country by 2025.

Much of this new push will be paid for by private fundraising by individual schools., rather than any grant provided by ATI itself to the member institutions.

Carleton will have a leg up in this regard, as the Pioneer Press reports that in October 2016 the school received $20 million from the Barbara and Wally Weitz family. This money comes in the form of matching grants toward fundraising for need-based scholarships. If the rest of the fundraising campaign is successful, the school estimates 40-45 students expenses will be covered each year.

The United States Supreme Court upheld race based affirmative action on a 4-3 split earlier this year. Justice Antonin Scalia died before the decision could be handed down, and Justice Elena Kagan recused herself.

Many of ATI’s schools are also involved in the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success reports the Pioneer Press. This allows low income students to use an alternative college application that allows students to emphasize who they are rather than how they performed in high school or on standardized tests.

Anders Koskinen