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Pomona College to Increase Low-Income Students and Community College Transfer Students in Response to White House Initiative

The White House

Photo credit: Sean Hayford O'Leary

Pomona College, one of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges, is meeting President Barack Obama’s challenge to do more to increase access to the country’s premier colleges for low-income students and community college students.

Already one of only a few colleges with need-blind admissions that meet students’ full financial aid need with scholarships and a small amount of work study, Pomona College has committed to increase its percentage of low-income students, add a second group of Posse Foundation students with a focus on the STEM fields and increase its number of community college transfer students. Since 2008, Pomona College has met students’ full financial aid need without packaged loans.

To increase the number of low-income, high-achieving students who are accepted to Pomona from 17% to 20% or higher within five years, admissions officers will travel to more community-based organizations serving those students and their families, increase resources for students to visit campus, and take advantage of new tools offered by the College Board and others to better identify and communicate with low-income students who could be a great fit for Pomona.

“Working with community organizations has proven a very effective strategy for connecting with low-income students who would do well at Pomona,” notes Seth Allen, vice president for admissions and financial aid. “Our Posse students have done extraordinarily well. We’ve had five Posse cohorts from Chicago graduate from Pomona, with a nearly 100% graduation rate, and currently have 42 Posse students on campus doing well. We’re excited to add another Posse cohort, this time from Miami.”

In addition, Pomona recruits students through the QuestBridge program, with 130 students from that program currently on campus. Also, the Pomona College Academy for Youth Success (PAYS), established in 2003, has prepared more than 200 local, high-achieving, low-income high school students for college and had each of those accepted to a four-year college or university. Pomona has graduated 13 PAYS students and has 13 currently on campus. Pomona joined the Say Yes – Higher Education Compact in 2013.

To increase the number of community college transfer students, the College will increase resources dedicated to building relationships with community colleges that are a good match for Pomona. This would include working with community college transfer coordinators to increase understanding about Pomona as a transfer option and building relationships with community college faculty who can identify students who would do well at Pomona College, and then linking those students to people and opportunities at the College.

In 2012-13, Pomona College awarded more than $30 million in need-based financial aid. Approximately 55 percent of current students receive institutional financial aid, and 17 percent receive Pell Grants. Pomona estimates that these new initiatives will result in an approximately $1.8 million commitment to financial aid.

"Pomona College has a long-standing tradition of providing an affordable education to students from low- and middle-income families," says Pomona College President David Oxtoby. "Our pledge to the White House College Pipeline Initiative reflects our ongoing commitment to attracting and supporting exceptional students from all backgrounds who thrive in our small classes and benefit from close student–faculty relationships." 

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