~News Release from UALR~
LITTLE ROCK (December 13, 2016) — The University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the Little Rock School District announced today a collaboration to make higher education more affordable and accessible.
The Trojan Pathway agreement between UALR and the five Little Rock School District high schools — Central, Hall, J.A. Fair, McClellan, and Parkview — sets a clear, affordable direction for students to enter the university and opens up resources to guide them through the process.
“Students need the opportunity to have a higher education,” said UALR Chancellor Dr. Andrew Rogerson, who developed the concept for the program. “Trojan Pathway is just opening their eyes to the possibility.”
Through the collaboration, students in the classes of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 and their parents can sign a non-binding agreement that guarantees the student a spot at the university as long as the student: Satisfies admissions criteria, submits a complete application, and makes acceptable financial arrangements.
“We are grateful for the wonderful partnership with UALR and for what this opportunity will mean for our students,” said LRSD Superintendent Mike Poore. “If our goal is to prepare students for college and career, we must be intentional in our approach to provide them with the kind of support they need to be successful. This is definitely a great step in that direction.”
Trojan Pathway, similar to the recently announced Jacksonville Promise, is the latest in UALR’s strategy of addressing the issues of affordability and accessibility in higher education. In a matter of weeks, more than 70 Jacksonville parents and students signed the contract to participate in the pilot program.
Both programs focus on highlighting an affordable pathway to higher education for students and their parents— especially those who might not have previously considered college a realistic option. While signing a contract through the Trojan Pathway program doesn’t commit a student to attend the university, it does provide access to university advisers who can help with the admission and financial aid processes.
Advisers also can discuss the potential for early degree completion — and the resulting cost savings that can occur — through the university’s concurrent enrollment program. For central Arkansas to succeed, UALR needs to produce job-ready college graduates, and for most students, a higher education is a critical component of their future career success, Rogerson said.
The importance of a college education continues to increase. About 99 percent of the 11.6 million jobs added in the U.S. since the 2008 recession went to workers who had completed at least some college, according to a recent report from the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University.
At the same time, about 70 percent of U.S. college students graduate with debt, and in 2015, that average debt was more than $30,000, according to The Institute for College Access and Success.
Attending a local university or college is one way central Arkansas students can cut costs. In an effort to make higher education even more affordable, UALR recently relaxed its requirement that many freshmen live on campus during their first year.
Advisers won’t only direct students to UALR, Rogerson said. If, for example, Pulaski Technical College is a better fit for the student’s plans, advisers will help send him or her in that direction. While Trojan Pathway has the potential to assist all Little Rock high school students, Rogerson said, those with multiple years of high school remaining could reap the maximum benefit, as they will have the most time to focus on college-readiness.
“This is something that will bear fruit in the future,” Rogerson said.