MCAN Director, National Education Leaders Pledge New Action to Expand College Access at White House Event

Lansing, MI - Dec. 4, 2014 – Today, Brandy Johnson, executive director of the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN), will join President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden along with hundreds of college presidents and other higher education leaders to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.

The White House College Opportunity Day of Action helps to support the President's commitment to partner with colleges and universities, business leaders, and nonprofits to support students across the country to help our nation reach its goal of leading the world in college attainment.

The Michigan College Access Network has committed to helping Michigan achieve the following:

  • Expand the quantity and quality of college access professionals working in Michigan high schools
  • Achieve a rate of 90 percent of seniors from partner high schools that complete at least two college applications by December 31, 2015
  • Ensure that 70 percent of seniors from partner high schools complete the FAFSA by June 30, 2016
  • Ensure that partner high schools achieve at least a 6 percent college enrollment rate increase from the 2013 graduating class' baseline by December 13, 2016
  • Support 81 advisors who serve 100 high schools and 61,610 students, 59 percent of whom are low-income
  • Double the number of schools and students served by college access professionals

"MCAN is thrilled to participate in such collaborative, constructive conversations with a president who shares our vision for expanded college access," Johnson said. "Today marks an important step for leaders and groups across the country to commit to expand college access and opportunity."

John Austin, president of the State Board of Education in Michigan, also promised to take actions that will help students prepare for college. Austin pledged to seek new state investments to build the capacity, increase the numbers and the quality of college and career counseling available to Michigan high school students. He also pledged to challenge and partner with Michigan school districts to "Reach Higher" – setting and reaching an ambitious goal to increase the percentage of students on track for post-secondary success.

Today's participants were asked to commit to new action in one of four areas: building networks of colleges around promoting completion, creating K-16 partnerships around college readiness, investing in high school counselors as part of the First Lady's Reach Higher initiative, and increasing the number of college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

President Obama will announce new steps on how his Administration is helping to support these actions, including announcing $10 million to help promote college completion and a $30 million AmeriCorps program that will improve low-income students' access to college. Today's event is the second College Opportunity Day of Action, and will include a progress report on the commitments made at the first day of action on January 14, 2014.

Expanding opportunity for more students to enroll and succeed in college, especially low-income and underrepresented students, is vital to building a strong economy and a strong middle class. Today, only 9 percent of those born in the lowest family income quartile attain a bachelor's degree by age 25, compared to 54 percent in the top quartile. In an effort to expand college access, the Obama Administration has increased Pell scholarships by $1,000 a year, created the new American Opportunity Tax Credit worth up to $10,000 over four years of college, limited student loan payments to 10 percent of income, and laid out an ambitious agenda to reduce college costs and promote innovation and competition.

Other Michigan education leaders attending the summit John Dunn, president of Western Michigan University, Daniel Little, chancellor of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Sue Dynarski, University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, Dr. Dale Pehrsson, dean of Central Michigan University's School of Education, Dan Varner, chief executive officer at Excellent Schools Detroit, Melissa Miller, director of WE CAN Newaygo County and Monica Moser, president and CEO of the Jackson Community Foundation.

Today's convening will be live streamed starting at 9:00 am EST at


About Michigan College Access Network
As the leader in the state's college access movement, MCAN's mission is to increase Michigan's college readiness, participation and completion rates, particularly among low-income students, first-generation college-going students, and students of color. Michigan has recently experienced a modest increase in our college attainment rate -- from 36.8 percent of 25-to-64-year-olds possessing at least an associate's degree, to 37.4 percent. However, Michigan's rate still lags behind the national average of 39.4 percent. It is MCAN's goal to increase Michigan's postsecondary educational attainment rate to 60 percent by the year 2025. For more information, visit

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