Last month, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation revealed plans for a new grant program that would focus on improving rates of college completion for low-income students. The first recipients of the grants were announced Tuesday, primarily consisting of organizations that either study or promote college preparedness and completion among the foundation's target groups. While few of the grants awarded will translate directly into college scholarships for first-generation, low-income, or minority students, many of the programs receiving funding are intended to help these students go to college and create success. Currently, only 25 percent of low-income students finish college, and each year high schools produce over 560,000 college-eligible graduates (most whose parents make less than $85,000 a year) who will fail to earn a college degree within 8 years, according to research cited by the New York Times. The Gates Foundation's stated goal for this grant program is to eventually double the percentage of low-income students completing a college degree or certificate program by the age of 26. The Chronicle of Higher Education explains that the grant initiative will have a three-pronged approach: "making the case to policy makers, educators, and business leaders about the need for increasing college-completion rates; accelerating success in remedial education; and ensuring that young people have the financial, social, and academic support to succeed in college." Coupled with the existing Gates Millenium Scholarship Program, which helps disadvantaged and minority students pay for school, these Gates Foundation grants have the potential to ultimately make not only attending college, but earning a degree and achieving college goals possible for the majority of American high school graduates.
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