launches new college initiative for low-income students
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[January 16, 2014]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) — President
Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will meet with
representatives of colleges, universities and philanthropic groups at
the White House on Thursday to talk about steps to get more low-income
students to attend college.
The event is part of Obama's pledge to try to narrow the gap
between rich and poor, a politically popular theme that is expected
to dominate his State of the Union address on January 28.
Obama has been unable to get some of his major initiatives approved
by a sharply divided Congress and has pledged to maximize use of his
powers of persuasion to advance his goals.
The daylong summit is an example of this approach. White House
officials worked with educational leaders on the project, aimed at
getting them to take concrete steps to help students prepare for and
get good advice on getting into college.
"We do not have a more clear ladder of economic mobility than the
attainment of a college degree for someone born into a low-income
family," Gene Sperling, Obama's top economic advisor, told
reporters, previewing Thursday's event.
Students born into families that are in the bottom 25 percent of
income have only a 9 percent chance of graduating from college,
By contrast, students born into families in the top 25 percent of
income have a 54 percent chance of getting a degree.
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Colleges, universities and educational organizations have made more
than 100 pledges to take steps to address the issue. The list
describing the projects, which will be released by the White House
on Thursday, runs more than 80 pages.
The White House plans further events this year to follow up on
progress made, Sperling said.
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; editing by Cynthia Osterman)
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