Obama Cites Georgia State Retention Grants At White House College Opportunity Day Of Action

Posted On December 4, 2014
Categories Campus News

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WASHINGTON, D.C.–President Barack Obama today (Dec. 4) praised Georgia State University for helping more college students find pathways to graduation in a speech at the White House’s second College Opportunity Day of Action.

Obama cited Georgia State’s success with Panther Retention Grants, small grants that cover student balances to keep them in class, in his address to hundreds of college presidents and education leaders who gathered to chart the course for increasing college completion. It is the second such event focused on increasing access and improving outcomes for students, regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds.

“Georgia State, just to cite one example, is developing a new system to give small grants to students who might be a little behind on their bills,” Obama said.

The university was one of three institutions singled out for their innovative approaches to keeping students on track.

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The President announced new steps on how his Administration is helping to support college access and completion, including announcing $10 million to help promote college completion and a $30 million AmeriCorps program that will improve low-income students’ access to college. Today’s event is the second College Opportunity Day of Action, and will include a progress report on the commitments made at the first day of action last January.

Georgia State committed to develop and deploy a first-of-its-kind financial risk tracking system to increase college completion, especially for low-income and underrepresented students. In the past, more than 1,000 students were dropped from their classes for non-payment of their university bills each semester, some with balances as low as $300. The university is reaching out to students and offering them micro-grants to cover their balances and to keep them in classes. Of the seniors who received a Panther Retention Grant last year, 70 percent graduated within two semesters of receiving the funding.

Expanding opportunity for more students to enroll and succeed in college, especially low-income and underrepresented students, is vital to building a strong economy and a strong middle class. Today, only 9 percent of those born in the lowest family income quartile attain a bachelor’s degree by age 25, compared to 54 percent in the top quartile.

Obama also recognized the University Innovation Alliance, a group of 11 public universities who have pledged to scale successful programs across their campuses and other universities to graduate 68,000 more students in the next decade. Georgia State President Mark P. Becker is vice-chairman of the alliance.

Georgia State President Mark Becker and Arizona State President Michael Crow’s op-ed on the college equity:


Stories on Georgia State’s success in using predictive analytics to drive student success:

The New York Times

The Chronicle of Higher Education

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation