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Minority gains in jeopardy.

Minorities continued to make limited progress in college and university enrollment during the recent recession, but their gains are in jeopardy due to measures that are limiting access to higher education, a report by the American Council on Education (ACE) warns. Rapid tuition increases, state-imposed enrollment caps, and uncertainty about financial aid threaten to take a disproportionate toll on minority students. As budget pressures in the public sector grow, state officials must not lose sight of the fact that minorities remain underrepresented on campus, and that those who do attend college often do not persist to degree completion.

While minority enrollment grew in most states during the 1980s, few showed significant gains in the proportion of African-Americans, Native Americans, or Hispanics among their student populations. In most, minorities remain far underrepresented in higher education. compared with their share of the state's population.

"Access by minorities to higher education is in peril," indicates ACE president Robert H. Atwell. "The growing imbalance between Federal grants and loans already has put many minority students at a disadvantage. The cut in the maximum Pell Grant award from $2,400 to $2,300 . . . only promises to exacerbate this situation." He notes that state fiscal conditions are unlikely to improve anytime soon, meaning continued hardship for many public institutions. At the same time, growing financial pressures on private colleges likely will limit the availability of institutional aid for needy students.

"It is absolutely essential that the Federal government renew its commitment to guaranteeing educational opportunity for all qualified students regardless of their financial resources. This means redeeming the Pell Grant program, which is in desperate straits. It also means being certain that any new program that relies on loans, [such as] Pres. Clinton's proposed National Service Trust Fund, enhances access, rather than restricting it."
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Title Annotation:gains in higher education
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Date:Dec 1, 1993
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