A major barrier to college education for students from low-income families is that they are poorly prepared to do college work. Since the War on Poverty of the 1960s, the federal government has funded several programs to help prepare disadvantaged students to succeed in college. Evaluations show that these programs are at best only modestly successful.
On May 7, Princeton University and the Brookings Institution released the latest issue of The Future of Children—a journal that promotes effective, evidence-based policies and programs for children—which examines the state of postsecondary education in the United States. Journal co-editor Cecilia Rouse provided an overview of the issue’s contents. Ron Haskins of Brookings presented findings from an accompanying policy brief that proposes a plan to improve college preparation programs for students from disadvantaged families by consolidating them into a single grant program and requiring that funded programs be backed by rigorous evidence. Following their presentations, Harry Holzer of Georgetown University responded to the proposal from the policy brief. A panel of experts then discussed the proposed reform and offered their own thoughts on the value of postsecondary education for low-income students.