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This College Received a $1 Million Prize for Supporting Low Income Students

Amherst College students
Students at Amherst College

And the prize for doing the right thing goes to -- Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts. Amherst College recently received the highest award given to any college in the nation for admitting, graduating and supporting outstanding low-income students.

They proved it can be done

The prize of $1 million was awarded to Amherst College by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. The award recognized the college for their outstanding work in expanding access to college for low-income students. The college is one of the few that meets the financial needs of all students without students having to take out loans.

How they did it

The college has increased their financial aid budget to meet the needs of low-income students. Pell Grants have increased from 15 percent in 2006-07 to nearly 25 percent in the current academic year. They are also admitting more community college transfer students who often are from low-income families. Up to 15 transfer students are admitted each year.

Amherst says it will use the prize money to offer more programs for low-income students, such as study abroad programs and paid internships. Many low-income students cannot afford to go home during spring break, so the college plans to use some of the money to develop summer education programs, including research programs and field study programs.

Reputation for supporting low income students

The college has had a reputation for supporting students with financial need since its beginning. The latest award from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation shows their continued determination to remove education barriers for low-income students. In doing this, they are an example for other colleges. As Cooke Foundation Executive Director Harold O. Levy stated, "By awarding Amherst the Cooke Prize we want to call attention to the college's success in lowering barriers to equal educational opportunity, and show other colleges and universities strategies they can pursue and steps they can take to follow Amherst's example."

Learn more about Amherst College's program for low income students at www.amherst.edu/admission/diversity

Funding and Grants For Women and Families: