Adams State President McClure profiled in AASCU magazine
Adams State University President Beverlee J. McClure is one of seven higher education leaders profiled in Public Purpose, the magazine of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). Besides their profession, what this group has in common is having begun their higher education journey thanks to financial support from the federal Pell Grant.
Known as Basic Educational Opportunity Grants prior to 1980, the program was created as a part of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to allow students with little means to access higher education. Public Purpose stated: "Every one of these leaders unequivocally say that without this funding, they would not have been able
Now, they and others are advocating reauthorization of the Higher Education Act and reinvigoration of the Pell Grant. Although nearly 9 million students now receive some amount of Pell Grant funding, the grant's purchasing power continues to decrease. Public Purpose notes: "The maximum Pell award in 2014-15 covered less than 33 percent of the cost of tuition, fees, and room and board at public four-year colleges, according to the Institute for College Access and Success. This is the lowest percentage since the start of the program in 1972."
Without a significant increase in Pell funding, the fear is fewer nontraditional and minority students will be able to attend college. More than 60 percent of African-American and 50 percent of Latino college students receive Pell Grants, according to the Institute for College Access and Success.
The Higher Education Act's 50th anniversary was commemorated Nov. 8. McClure pointed out, "Access and affordability are at the heart of Adams State University's mission to serve diverse populations. For a time, the Pell Grant was available during summer sessions, but was discontinued, forcing many students to curtail their education. Summer session helps students fulfill the 30 credits of course work needed each year to graduate within four years. This is particularly helpful to students who work or have family responsibilities. If we want our population to have social and economic mobility, we have to be willing to invest in it. Pell is still one of the best ways to augment student financing for education."