President Milliken to participate in White House event on increasing college opportunity

University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken will attend an event at the White House Thursday focused on new actions that will increase college opportunity.

The event is hosted by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Participating institutions have been asked to submit new commitments that they will undertake to expand higher education opportunities for low-income and other traditionally underrepresented students.

Details on the University of Nebraska’s commitments will be announced Thursday.

“The facts clearly demonstrate that Nebraska – and the United States – will need many more college graduates in the workforce in order to meet the economic demands of the future,” Milliken said. “We must ensure that college is accessible to every student who is qualified and wants to attend. It’s especially important that we expand access to students who have traditionally been underrepresented in higher education. I’m pleased that the White House is making this a national priority, and I look forward to discussing new ideas with the Obama administration and colleagues around the country.”

Milliken was among six college presidents who participated last November in a similarly focused meeting hosted by Gene Sperling, the chief White House economics adviser.

Milliken noted that affordable access to quality education has long been the University of Nebraska’s highest priority. Tuition rates on all four NU campuses are well below the peer average – particularly in light of NU’s current two-year freeze on resident tuition – and NU students graduate with debt levels at or below those of their peers. The university’s tuition assistance program, Collegebound Nebraska, guarantees full tuition coverage for qualifying low-income Nebraska students, and private partners such as the Susan T. Buffett Foundation provide financial aid for many other students. The number of Buffett scholars at NU has increased almost tenfold since 2007. Additionally, the university is an active partner in Nebraska’s P-16 Initiative, which seeks to improve student outcomes in the state.

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