WASHINGTON, DC – Deborah Santiago, Excelencia in Education's co-founder and vice president for policy and research, yesterday spoke at the Black Enterprise symposium "Today's Business Crisis: Educating Tomorrow's Workforce" on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles. Presented with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this major convening focused on solutions to the growing crisis of college affordability.

"The college affordability crisis is most impacting post-traditional students, and we must align our financial aid policies to better serve this student population," said Santiago. "Federal financial aid is currently structured with traditional students in mind, but post-traditional students are a growing proportion of those seeking college degrees. What if aid policy changed to serve post-traditional students rather than trying to force students to fit into a decreasingly relevant traditional profile?"

Post-traditional students are those who, for example, enroll at a community college, take courses part-time while working, are black or Latino, study online and at multiple institutions, live off-campus with family, and take more than four years to complete a degree.

In February, Santiago authored a Gates Foundation-funded white paper "Using A Latino Lens To Reimagine Aid Design And Delivery." Excelencia in Education's research demonstrates that Latinos are more likely to be post-traditional students. By examining financial aid through a Latino lens, policymakers can redesign a federal financial aid system that is more relevant and effective for students of all backgrounds.

"We have the capacity to address the affordability crisis, since it is a crisis of our own making as a country," argued Santiago during the symposium. "Building our collective will to address the crisis is the challenge. We know what can be done, but creating the will to convince others in decision-making roles that we must end the crisis for our collective benefit has not yet been effective. In many ways, this is a marketing campaign to build will by addressing personal responsibility, public responsibility, and collective opportunity simultaneously."

"It is imperative that business leaders partner with the academic community to ensure that our schools are producing graduates with the skills we desire for our businesses to remain competitive in this global economy," said Earl "Butch" Graves, Jr., President and CEO, Black Enterprise. "Black Enterprise has addressed the crisis of college affordability as a major barrier to opportunities for students to gain the necessary preparation and education to lead productive lives."

Symposium speakers focused on how business leaders, policy makers and civic organizations can make postsecondary education more affordable so students can enter and complete college as well as manage debt upon graduation. Film, television and entertainment industry notables who are active on the issue of improving access to educational opportunity, including Robert Townsend, Lamman Rucker and Jeff Friday, also participated.

To download the complete white paper, "Using A Latino Lens To Reimagine Aid Design And Delivery," visit: http://edexcelencia.org.


Release Date
Thu, 12/05/2013 - 6:13am
Washington, DC
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