U of M boosts efforts to keep poor students in school

The University of Minnesota will offer low-income students financial literacy classes, peer tutoring and other aid to help them stay in school.

The plan unveiled Thursday includes a summer seminar before students in their first semester at college and better advising to track their academic performance.

The effort will focus on keeping low-income Pell grant students in school after their freshman year. About 20 percent of undergraduate freshman at the university qualify for the need-based federal Pell grants every year; 87 percent of those students make it to their sophomore year, 3 percent fewer than non-Pell students.

All pieces of the new effort will be in place by fall 2016, officials said.

The Thursday announcement was timed to a White House meeting of college presidents, including University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler, called to discuss expanding access to higher education.

Officials with the St. Paul-based group College Possible also took part in Thursday’s summit.

The nonprofit prepares low-income students for college, and continues to coach them after they start school.

College Possible currently partners with 20 Minnesota high schools and said 20 more high schools in the state are on a waiting list to work with the group.

The organization also announced plans to expand to Philadelphia, and said it hopes to serve 20,000 students in 10 cities annually by 2020.