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Bay Path Announces Commitment to Expand College Access

LONGMEADOW — On Thursday, Bay Path University President Carol Leary joined President Obama, the first lady, and Vice President Biden, along with hundreds of college presidents and other higher-education leaders, to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college. The White House College Opportunity Day of Action helped support Obama’s commitment to partner with colleges and universities, business leaders, and nonprofits to support students across the country.

“I am honored to participate in this important initiative and to represent the 76.6 million adult women in this country who do not have a baccalaureate degree,” said Leary. “Through the launch of the American Women’s College at Bay Path University, we are making a bold commitment to provide a truly revolutionary model of higher education for underserved adult women. It is time that we as a country focus on this population. Higher education has the potential to transform a woman’s life and, in so doing, positively impact her community, her workplace, and her family.

“The generational impact of educating adult women is profound,” Leary continued. “Research demonstrates that only 13% of children of women without a degree go on to college. When a woman earns a degree, that figure escalates to 49%. A focus on the education of adult women is critical to President Obama’s goal of restoring our nation as a global leader in college-educated citizenry.”

Leary is among the participants being asked to commit to new action in one of four areas: building networks of colleges around promoting completion, creating K-12 partnerships around college readiness, investing in high-school counselors as part of the first lady’s Reach Higher initiative, and increasing the number of college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Expanding opportunity for more students to enroll and succeed in college, especially low-income and underrepresented students, is vital to building a strong economy and a strong middle class. Today, only 9% of those born in the lowest family income quartile attain a bachelor’s degree by age 25, compared to 54% in the top quartile.

In an effort to expand college access, the Obama administration has increased Pell scholarships by $1,000 a year, created the new American Opportunity Tax Credit worth up to $10,000 over four years of college, limited student-loan payments to 10% of income, and laid out an ambitious agenda to reduce college costs and promote innovation and competition.

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