New Federal Legislation Would Provide Grants to High Schools in Low-Income Areas That Take Steps to Create a “College-Going Culture”

A report by the Chicago Public Schools system found that only 41 percent of the students who expressed a desire to go to college took the necessary steps to achieve that goal. Of the Chicago public school students who went on to college, only one third enrolled at a school that met their academic qualifications. Of all students who had the academic qualifications to attend a selective college or university, nearly one third enrolled in a community college or did not go to college.

Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois has introduced the Pathways to College Act. The legislation provides for a new grant program to be administered by the secretary of education that would provide funds to help improve the “college-going culture” at inner-city and rural high schools with large numbers of low-income students. The program would provide funds to schools that instituted counseling and guidance programs geared towards increasing the number of low-income students attending college.

The bill provides monetary incentives for high schools to hold college fairs, hire guidance staff, hold seminars on financial aid for college, and institute standardized test preparation classes.