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College access is one of the dominant civil rights issues of our time.

Low-income teenagers across the United States want all that a higher education promises: the possibility of prospering and participating in the American Dream.

Currently, 65% of all jobs require post-secondary education.

On average, college graduates make $1 million more over their lifetime than those who only graduated high school.

So it's no wonder that 83% of all high school students have college aspirations.

Only 49% of low-income students go to college immediately after high school, compared to 79% of high-income students. 

By age 24, 77% of students from the top income quartile earn a college degree, while only 9% of students from the lowest income quartile do. 

As a result, income inequality persists.

People from low-income backgrounds are increasingly excluded from higher education.

One major cause: they don’t have access to essential resources,

including college guidance support.

Most public high schools don't have a single college counselor. Instead, school counselors are often responsible for providing college and career counseling.


But more than one-fifth of public high schools in the nation don’t have a school counselor, according to the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights.

Nationwide, the typical school counselor to student ratio is 1 to 424. You can find the ratio in your state here. 


And school counselors report that they can only spend 20% of their time on college guidance.

It is as if we expect students to learn math, but don’t provide funding for math teachers.

And we know that college counseling works:

study by the College Board found that adding one counselor to a high school's staff predicted a 10-percentage-point increase in the number of students who enrolled in four-year colleges.


report by NACAC showed that after meeting one-on-one with a counselor to discuss college or financial aid, the chances of a student going to college triples and they are seven times more likely to apply for financial aid.  


“Intensive college counseling provided to college-seeking, low-income students shifts their enrollment toward four-year colleges that are both relatively inexpensive and have better graduation rates than other institutions, according to a research paper published last week in Education and Finance Policy. Counseling also improves low-income students' persistence through at least the second year of college, the study found, which suggests a potential to increase degree completion rates for disadvantaged student groups.”- Inside Higher Ed

"...a recent study showed that students who met with a school counselor to talk about financial aid or college were three times more likely to attend college, and they were nearly seven times more likely to apply for financial aid." - Michelle Obama

And we know that peer college counseling works:

"Graduation rates in schools with SSCs have increased an average of 26% over six years and post-secondary enrollment (has increased) by 17%."

- CARA: Peer Led College Access Programming: A Profile of Student Success Centers in NYC.


An earlier study conducted at the Bushwick Campus and Franklin K. Lane Campus, the first two campuses with Student Success Centers that are models for the program, found that, "postsecondary enrollment has increased 14 percentage points and 11 percentage points respectively over the last four years – compared to 6 percentage points citywide" during the same time frame.

  -NYC Department of Education

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