Sunday, July 14, 2013

Upward Mobility, Part Two

A few months back, I wrote about a Star Tribune op-ed that told of a low-income student who had done everything right in school, but was having no luck getting college scholarships.

I ended the post like this:

What I bet will happen now is that someone will step forward to contact Lockhart with money for Malik to go to school, and that will be a great thing. But it's like the problem with the cute endangered animals getting funding when the homely ones go wanting -- it doesn't address the larger problem.
Today's Star Tribune had a followup column by editorial writer Lori Sturdevant. Several someones did step forward with money not just for Malik, but for other kids from his high school. "The scholarship committee at Patrick Henry received a stunning $28,000 in donations, which was distributed this spring among 35 college-bound grads in increments of $750 to $5,000."

$28,000, one should note, is probably just about how much a single student needs to go to the University of Minnesota for a year, including room and board and expenses.  But instead it was divided up in smaller amounts for more people. Some of those amounts are almost meaningless, unless combined with lots of other scholarships.

Malik himself got a better financial aid offer from the U, and he'll be starting there this fall. An anonymous donor funded two other full-ride scholarships at the U as well.

So that's a little better than I predicted, but still fits into the "cute endangered animals" scenario, in my opinion.

What Sturdevant included in her story, though, was information on an organization that tries to address the larger problem: College Possible and its founder, Jim McCorkell.
“Who will earn a four-year college degree by the age of 24? Nationally, kids from the upper-income quartile earn those degrees at a rate of over 80 percent. Kids from the lower-income quartile earn degrees at a rate of about 8 percent.”

“The good news is that there’s lots of opportunity to do better. There are literally thousands of kids who want to go to college in this state, and whom colleges would take, that aren’t going at all. We can change that.”

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