Imagine trying to support a family of four on $25,000 – or less. That’s the current poverty threshold. Growing up under those constraints spurs many young women to vow that their future will be different. And they know that the first step toward that future is a college degree. The second step is picking that college.
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Race, household income and family background are key to the college selection process. Community colleges are the only choice for many lower income students. They can live at home, take classes and work while getting their diploma. Costs are definitely much less than a traditional university.
But some careers require a diploma from a prestigious university, a “name” school. For many middle class students, those costs are challenging. For those coming from the poverty level, they can be truly daunting.
Our “Hidden Costs of College” report, underwritten by Charles Schwab, found that 35% of lower income students attend college for 4 or more years – while 65% only attend for two years or less.
Sometimes, a college just isn’t a good “fit” for a student. Being able to visit the campus prior to enrollment allows a student to imagine themselves living – and fitting in – there. It also gives them a chance to sample campus life and meet current students. It’s a critical part of today’s college choices.
But those belonging to a racial minority were more likely to respond that they hadn’t been able to afford to visit college campuses during high school.
Micro-grants from 1,000 Dreams Fund help to defray some of those costs. Natalie, who wants to be a lawyer, shared, “[A grant from 1,000 Dreams Fund] helped me in deciding which college I will apply to and attend in the future…I am not only able to see the campuses, but I am now capable of getting first-hand advice from current students and graduate students!” She added, “Now I have options. Now I can look at more colleges instead of just limiting myself.”
Natalie’s story is echoed by hundreds, thousands of young women who are working hard to get to college, do well and graduate. They want to give back to their communities, and often a very small amount of money is all that stands in their way.
If you’d like to know more about our project and the young women we help, visit our Project Girls on the Rise web page. If you’d like to become one of our funders (and we hope you do!), go HERE. Your help will allow students like Natalie to get that extra boost that she needs to start her college career. Our goal is to help just as many young women as we can to realize their dreams – and those dreams start with a solid college education.
Christie Garton, Founder & CEO of the 1,000 Dreams Fund