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ISU among schools participating in White House summit

Published: Friday, Jan. 17, 2014 10:57 a.m. CDT

AMES (MCT) — Iowa State University is detailing efforts to bolster higher education opportunities for low-income and disadvantaged students as school President Steven Leath attends a White House summit devoted to the topic.

Leath is among college and university representatives participating in Thursday’s summit in Washington D.C. on expanding college opportunities with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

The event, which is streaming live online, also includes leaders from nonprofits, foundations, state governments, and businesses across the country, according to a press release from the White House. Along with remarks from President Obama and his wife, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was also expected to address the group this afternoon.

In a statement from ISU, Leath said he greatly appreciate being asked to take part in the event to discuss the importance of access to higher education.

“I’m looking forward to offering insights from the perspective of a land-grant university where access and opportunity have always been a priority,” Leath said.

As part of Thursday’s summit, ISU officials provided an overview of the ways they are working to increase college opportunities for the student demographic being targeted in the White House initiative.

ISU has committed to raising an additional $85 million over the next three years to increase financial aid opportunities for low-income students as part of a fundraising goal Leath set in 2012. The school also plans to hire an additional staff member to help recruit low-income students and support them through the financial aid application process, officials said.

Additionally, the university is making specific investments to boost exposure and outcomes among low-income students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The university’s School of Education has also been working for the past year with two Des Moines schools to help lower-income and minority students succeed academically and eventually enroll at ISU.

University officials went on to list scholarships, grants and efforts to help students more easily make the transition from community college to a four-year campus among the ways they are trying to make higher education more affordable while also striving to ensure more graduates finish on time.

This is not the first time ISU’s president has been invited to the nation’s capital city to discuss college access and affordability and in 2012, Leath testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

“Eliminating barriers to a college education will benefit our young people, our state and the nation. Iowa State is working to make that happen,” Leath said.

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©2014 the Ames Tribune, Iowa

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