Posse Program: STEM Cohort

Franklin & Marshall College (PA)

[White House Summit on College Opportunity, Jan. 2014]

Franklin & Marshall College commits to expanding its financial support for low-income students by increasing its financial aid budget for 2014-2015 by 10 percent and will seek to sustain that increased level of aid in subsequent years through philanthropy. This additional need-based aid will enable Franklin & Marshall to increase the number of Pell Grant recipients in its student body and builds on the significant work the College has done to provide more aid for low- income students.

Franklin & Marshall – which in 2011 became the first liberal arts college to agree to host a STEM Posse– commits to sustaining its cohort of Posse Foundation students interested in STEM fields from Miami for at least the next five years, and currently has two cohorts of 10 students each currently enrolled. The College’s first STEM Posse, with science-heavy schedules, earned first-year GPAs substantially higher than the average for their class as a whole.

To increase the proportion of low-income, high-achieving students, Franklin & Marshall plans to seek philanthropic support to sustain its pilot Next Generation Initiative. Through this Initiative, Franklin & Marshall has sustained 17 percent Pell Grant recipients in the last three entering classes, up from a 3-year average of 7 percent five years ago, with increased retention rates, strong academic performance, and lower student indebtedness.

Franklin & Marshall will invest for at least two more years in its pilot F&M College Prep program, a three-week summer program that has served 71 talented, low-income, rising high-school seniors from 13 urban areas and rural Pennsylvania communities served by the National College Advising Corps. Through this program, these students take courses taught by college faculty and attend workshops that help them navigate the college admission process while promoting personal development. 93 perecnt of 2011 and 2012 participants enrolled in 4-year colleges.

Lastly, Franklin & Marshall will seek to further reduce the average indebtedness of its students on graduation, which has declined by 17 percent over the past two years.

Building on Existing Efforts: Over the past six years, the financial aid F&M has provided to its first-year class has increased by 95 percent, from $5.8 million for the Class of 2012 to $11.3 million for the Class of 2017. F&M made its first commitment to the Posse program in 2005, and more than 90 students have now enrolled at F&M through the New York Posse program. The F&M College Prep program has served more than 150 students in the past three years, and in the summer of 2013 served 71 students from leading school networks and partner organizations.

Finally, in 2012, Franklin and Marshall recruited a national expert in student success, Donnell Butler, Ph.D., to catalyze the College’s efforts to smooth all students’ transition to college and develop effective assessment measures for student progress and achievement. F&M also replaced its traditional career services with a new Office of Student and Post-Graduate Development to create a more holistic approach to preparing students for career and personal success beyond college.

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