For low-income students, the barriers to higher education are significant. Less than 50% of low-income students graduate high school. Only 11% complete a four-year college within six years. Yet, education is the single best investment a society can make. BALF is dedicated to making a difference and closing the persistent achievement gap in education. The primary issue in college access is no longer building college aspirations, but building a clear path for students to achieve their goals (Sources: U.S. Department of Education, Pell Institute, 2008 Report: Moving Beyond Access, Center for American Progress).
In addition to the cost of college, low-income youth face significant barriers to higher education and may lack the social and emotional resources to successfully complete college. College completion rates remain disturbingly low for students in under served, under resourced schools, and lower still for low-income students of color who will be the first in their family to attend college. This reinforces the cycle of inter-generational poverty, with too few earning a degree with genuine economic value.
“It is much tougher to stay the course in college if you are the first in your family to enroll in college, if you have rarely strayed far from home and if your life is still affected by family problems, be it a jobless parent or an addicted sibling. At a national level, one student in two enrolling in college earns a degree within six years. In the Bay Area’s most challenged communities, the ratio is far worse. The problem is most acute among young black and Latino men. According to data gathered by the Oakland Unified School District, only 8 percent of black teenagers entering ninth grade will get a bachelor’s degree. Only 34 percent of black male students, and 44 percent of Latino male students who entered the combined University of California and California State University system in 2001 had graduated six years later. The rate for white men was 62 percent.” (Tracey Taylor, New York Times, 2010)
When underserved college-bound students receive college access support, financial aid guidance and mentoring, these efforts can help close the pervasive achievement gap. This helps the entire family better navigate the admissions system and take advantage of the resources available beyond our scholarships that will make college possible.
Access to higher education can break the cycle of inter-generational poverty by preparing young people for careers and the capacity to better their lives, and the lives of their families. When these students persist and earn a degree, there is a direct correlation to improved earning potential and self-sufficiency.