Education Department hosts students to find out what drives up graduation rates

Students want more assistance navigating the complex world of financial aid

The Education Department recently hosted about a dozen students and recent graduates from minority-serving colleges to learn how to best help students on the path to graduation, Nick Anderson reports for the Washington Post's "Grade Point."  

Students talked to Education Secretary John King Jr. about some of the struggles they face.

A Pakastani-born student named Syeda Raza learned that she could not attend her dream school because her status as an undocumented immigrant prevented her from receiving the financial aid she needed. She later enrolled at the University of Illinois at Chicago and received interim immigration help through the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Raza recommended that colleges use trained liaisons to help undocumented students. 

Colleges target undocumented immigrants to boost enrollment

Many students complained about the complexity of applying for financial aid. Whitney Sawney, a student at the University of Arkansas, suggested that high schools administer courses in financial aid so that students know "how to navigate the system." 

Students don't speak 'financial aid'

Imhotep Simba, a recent graduate of Coppin State University, recommended that colleges build more dorms to help students feel they are part of the academic community. He noted that commuter students often struggle to connect with their school.

Catheryne Lee Mora, a student at Miami Dade College, said one of the most important ways colleges can boost graduation rates is by helping students feel confident that they belong in school, rather than going straight to the workforce (Anderson, "Grade Point," Washington Post, 3/22). 

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