Iowa State University President Steven Leath and Drake University President David Maxwell were at the White House Thursday for a summit about expanding the opportunity for low income students to attend college. Leath says ISU is focusing on fundraising to provide scholarships for needy students. “We definitely need to raise more scholarship money so that there is a realistic opportunity for them to go to school,” Leath said. “One of the first barriers they look at is the cost of higher education and they don’t think they can afford it. So, we’ve committed to raise 150 million dollars in new scholarship money in five years or less.”
That fundraising effort is off to a good start. “In the first two years, we’ve raised 65 million,” Leath said. ISU also plans to hire an additional staff member to work directly with recruitment and the application process for low income students.
Maxwell used the summit to introduce a project to bring more low income students to the Drake campus in Des Moines. “As a pilot project, we will be identifying 20 low income eighth graders on the basis of their scores on eighth-grade math tests. It’s a pipeline from 9th grade to a 22-year-old Drake graduate with a job,” Maxwell said.
With help from Drake counselors and students, these 20 low income students will be mentored throughout high school and college. Principal Financial Group in Des Moines is a partner in the project with Drake. It will offer internships and possibly jobs for top performing students.