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Barnard unveiled a set of initiatives on Thursday to increase college accessibility for low-income students.

Barnard rolled out a new set of initiatives on Thursday to increase college access and provide more long-term support for low-income students on campus.

The initiatives—announced the same day Barnard President Debora Spar joined more than 80 other college and university presidents at a White House education summit to discuss increasing college access—expand on Barnard's current programs for low-income students.

The college's existing programs include the Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program, which provides academic support to low-income Barnard students from New York, and Barnard Bound, which allows prospective students who identify as persons of color or low-income students to visit Barnard.

The changes announced Thursday include increasing outreach to high schools with low-income populations, increasing campus visits for students in HEOP, and admitting more students to Barnard Bound and the Barnard Opportunity Program, which offers HEOP resources to students outside of New York.

“For many low-income students, college can feel like an unattainable dream,” Nanette DiLauro, Barnard's director of financial aid, said in an email. “But if students can visit campus through a program like Barnard Bound, they are able to better understand the application process and the way financial aid works.”

“Our newly expanded commitments will allow us to reach more of these students, which is a crucial part of college accessibility,” DiLauro said.

Barnard's announcement of its new initiatives for low-income students coincided with Spar's attendance at the White House's summit on expanding college opportunity.

“I found Thursday's White House summit both interesting and compelling,” Spar said in an email. “For me, the central insight of the day was how aligned all parties are around a common purpose—expanding access to higher education for lower income and under-represented students.”

“Of course, the challenge will be figuring out how precisely to achieve this goal,” Spar said. “The momentum of this event will make an important difference in the way that college leaders approach the challenges of accessibility, and I look forward to continuing Barnard's role in this process.”

At Thursday's summit, more than 80 college and university presidents and nonprofit organizations unveiled new initiatives designed to provide low-income students more academic opportunities, including more college prep for high school students and on-campus mentor programs.

Paramita Roy, BC '15, was admitted to Barnard as a HEOP scholar and said that the program—which includes mentoring and helps cover academic costs from tutoring to textbooks—helped her immensely.

“Typically, tutoring costs $15 an hour if you don't get financial aid or $7.50 an hour if you do get financial aid—with HEOP you don't have to pay anything,” Roy said. “I'm really grateful for that.”

Roy added that the tutoring provided through HEOP made an actual difference in her grades, helping her to improve her test scores in a neuroscience class two semesters ago.

Additional resources that HEOP and the Barnard Opportunity Program provide include career development support, textbook reserves, mentoring, laptops, and a six-week summer program before students' first year to help them adjust to college.

Elizabeth Dalchand, BC '15 and a HEOP scholar, said that the emotional support provided through the program helped her through her first year. 

“The group of people that you meet will be your companions throughout your entire four years here,” Dalchand said. “I think that's the best thing. You need connections, you need people to get you through your classes as emotional support.”

Dalchand said she was glad that more students will have access to the support that HEOP and the other programs provide.

“I think it will make Barnard a very diverse place,” Dalchand said. 

Samantha Cooney contributed reporting.  |  @ezactron

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