'Dream Accounts Act' Would Make College More Accessible
Published: Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 02:03
The American Dream Accounts Act of 2012, proposed last week by Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), would create a financial network to help lower-income high school students save for college.
The bill aims to make college more accessible by setting up an online platform to track students’ progress through primary and secondary education, establishing college savings plans and awarding grants to organizations that help lower-income students prepare for college.
According to the text of the bill, only 9.8 percent of low-income students attend a four-year college or university.
“Lack of knowledge about how to apply to and pay for an institution of higher education is a barrier for many low-income students and students who would be in the first generation in their families to attend [college],” the bill reads.
The act seeks to address this lack of information by awarding competitive grants to organizations that provide students with opportunities to learn about financial literacy, with preference given to organizations willing to contribute seed money to students’ college savings accounts.
“Dream Accounts” would both track students’ academic progress and serve as college savings accounts.
According to Georgetown’s Associate Vice President for Federal Relations Scott Fleming, while the bill is aimed at partnership with high schools, it is consistent with Georgetown’s mission of facilitating access to higher education.
“[The bill’s] goal of encouraging low-income students to pursue higher education is very consistent with Georgetown’s mission, evidenced in our scholarship programs and … [other] initiatives,” Fleming said. “It’s fair to say we would be sympathetic.”
However, Fleming cautioned that the bill will have difficulty passing through a House of Representatives preoccupied this week by the federal budget proposal, which itself includes possible cuts to federal Pell Grants and a hike in the student interest rate.
“It’s an admirable piece of legislation, but getting attention on Capitol Hill in this environment will no doubt be challenging,” Fleming said.