Normandale Announces Commitment to Expand College Access at White House Event

By Steven Geller - Director of Media and Public Relations

Normandale Community College and Dr. Joyce Ester joined President Obama, the First Lady, and Vice President Biden along with hundreds of college presidents and other higher education leaders to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college on December 4. 

The White House College Opportunity Day of Action helps to support the President's commitment to partner with colleges and universities, business leaders, and nonprofits to support students across the country to help our nation reach its goal of leading the world in college attainment.  

Normandale is committing to increase student retention in STEM fields by 10 percent over the next 10 years, resulting in 2,800 STEM students retained to graduation or transfer. Additionally, Normandale commits to serving 500 low-income, women, and underrepresented students of color over the next 10 years, in addition to the low-income, women, and underrepresented students already being served by the Academy of Math and Science.

"As an institution that focuses on the scholarship of teaching and learning, Normandale Community College is delighted to share our goals and learn from others to help students achieve academic success", said Ester. "We look forward to achieving these goals, and playing a big role in helping to increase access and education opportunities for underrepresented populations in our community."

Today's participants were asked to commit to new action in one of four areas: building networks of colleges around promoting completion, creating K-16 partnerships around college readiness, investing in high school counselors as part of the First Lady's Reach Higher initiative, and increasing the number of college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The President will announce new steps on how his Administration is helping to support these actions, 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 on January 14, 2014.

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. In an effort to expand college access, the Obama Administration has increased Pell scholarships by $1,000 a year, created the new American Opportunity Tax Credit worth up to $10,000 over four years of college, limited student loan payments to 10 percent of income, and laid out an ambitious agenda to reduce college costs and promote innovation and competition.