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New Hampshire to Receive $1.5 Million to Increase College Aspirations

Governor John Lynch has designated the N.H. Postsecondary Education Commission as the lead organization of a coalition that will receive $1.5 million in federal funding to increase the enrollment in postsecondary education in New Hampshire for students who have graduated from high school within the previous 12 months. The funds are being allocated to the state through the U.S. Department of Education’s College Access Challenge Grant (CACG), a program that has been authorized to provide funds to states for the next five years beginning this summer. 

college-educationWhile the goal is to increase access for all students, CACG projects will target under-represented populations including foster children, potential first-generation college students, minorities and financially-needy students.  Specific programs receiving support will build upon existing infrastructure to deliver programming, resources and direct services and avoid duplication of effort by encouraging a collaborative partnership of state-wide non-profits and state entities that focus on education at all levels.  

“This federal award complements both the Governor’s P-16 Working Group and NH Postsecondary Education Commission efforts to increase the proportion of high school graduates who realize aspirations to continue their education,” said Kathryn Dodge, Executive Director of the NH Postsecondary Education Commission.  “This coalition approach, partnerships between the K-12 and higher education sector, public and independent institutions, as well as a variety of non-profit organizations, is designed to improve our capacity to work together for the good of NH students.”

The scope of the funded projects fall into three areas: 1) college aspiration – improving  access to and familiarity with college planning information for all students and parents, with emphasis on underserved populations; 2) capacity building – making  the application process smoother and more accurate for students, secondary, and postsecondary institutions through implementation of an electronic transcript and working with education professionals at both the secondary and postsecondary level to promote not only access to postsecondary education, but success once access is attained; and, 3) academic preparation – increasing the percentage of students who are prepared to complete college level material.  

It is anticipated that the following programs will be supported through the grant:

The NH Higher Education Assistance Foundation (NHHEAF) Network Organization’s Center for College Planning: Increase college aspirations through presenting programs for K-12 students and parents in early awareness, planning for college and careers and information on financial aid; standardized test prep and FAFSA completion for high schools with low college-going rate and a high proportion of low-income students by providing incentives for participation; special work with foster children.

NH College and University Council’s Diversity Initiative: Increase access to postsecondary education for minorities, refugees, immigrants, and students for which English is their second language through college access conventions, college fairs, and events that target minority populations, financial aid workshops at minority-serving community centers, refugee settlement organizations, and churches; and developing and maintaining a scholarship database for under-represented students.  The Diversity Initiative will also organize an annual access showcase conference to promote best practices to successfully integrate minority students into the state’s postsecondary system.

NH College and University Council’s NH Scholars Initiative: Increase the number of high schools participating in the NH Scholars Initiative and the number of students at those schools who complete a rigorous high school curriculum. The project encourages all high schools to strengthen school/business partnerships in an effort to motivate all students to engage in challenging coursework thus graduating with the skills and proficiency to succeed in college and a career.

Community College System of NH Mathematics Learning Communities: Increase the awareness, both of students and educators, of the competencies required to successfully complete entry-level college mathematics resulting in a decrease in placement in remedial math courses and an increase in college persistence and success at the community colleges.

Campus Compact of NH: Focus on both access and success in K-16 education through increased opportunities for professional development for K-12 guidance counselors, college financial aid and admissions professionals and other stakeholders; the creation of an after school curriculum encouraging college awareness and planning for K-12 students; and the promotion of K-16 partnerships for college access.

University System of NH (USNH), Community College System of NH (CCSNH), NH Department of Education: Enhance the existing NHTransfer.org database to allow students to send their transcripts electronically from participating high schools and postsecondary institutions to any participating USNH or CCSNH institution.  This will enable students and admissions officers to easily evaluate course equivalencies in the transcript.  It will also allow transcript information to automatically feed directly into the receiving institution’s student database, increasing efficiency and data accuracy. 

The NHHEAF Network Organization’s Center for College Planning: Create an integrated public awareness campaign that increases awareness of and appreciation for higher education.  In partnership with NH’s degree-granting postsecondary institutions, the Postsecondary Education Commission, the Division of Children, Youth and Families and local TRIO programs, the campaign would target high school juniors and seniors to promote the value of higher education by focusing on affordability, scholarships and financial aid.

The purpose of the CACG is to foster partnerships among federal, state, and local governments and philanthropic organizations through matching challenge grants that are aimed at increasing the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. The Postsecondary Education Commission will serve as the grant administrator for the CACG.

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