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March 23, 2016

An MIT student reads outside a building on the Cambridge campus. MIT is among four Mass. schools to be highlighted in a new federal report for increasing the number of students who receive Pell grants. (Michael Dwyer/AP)

The Obama administration is shining a spotlight on colleges and universities that increase access and improve outcomes for poor students, months after abandoning its plan to rank higher education institutions. The U.S. Education Department on Thursday released a new report celebrating colleges that enroll and graduate students from all backgrounds. 

“Many colleges and universities have taken important steps to make college a reality for low-income students, but unfortunately today those success stories are the exception and they ought to be the rule,” said Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr., pointing out that only 150 four-year schools in the country enroll more than 40 percent of their student bodies as Pell recipients.

Related: A New King Of College Ranking

The report, Fulfilling the Promise, Serving the Need, focuses primarily on four-year institutions. Among those schools featured are Amherst, MIT, Harvard and UMass Lowell, which increased the number of its students who receive Pell grants by 10 percent between 2008 and 2013. In that same period, more than half of Pell recipients at UMass Lowell graduated within six years. 

See the full list of schools and report below:


Fulfilling the Promise, Serving the Need: Advancing College Opportunity for LowIncome Students (38.5 KB)

Thursday’s report comes more than six months after the Obama administration introduced its College Scorecard, which crunches data and tracks costs, graduation rates and the median salary of former students.

The administration had originally wanted to rank colleges and universities and limit funding to bad actors, but higher education leaders and lobbyists pushed back and argued that graduation rates and salaries don’t necessarily show whether a college is fulfilling its mission. 

Some selective institutions have recently said they would alter their admissions criteria to level the playing field. In January, a group of presidents and deans signaled they would change their admissions process and would consider non-academic factors such as community service and whether or not a student has worked while enrolled in school.

Earlier: Department Of Education Introduces 'College Scorecard' Tool

access, and, success, increasing

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