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Rich Schools, Poor Students: Tapping Large University Endowments to Improve Student Outcomes

On January 8, 2015, President Obama initiated a nationwide conversation about community colleges and the education of the “middle class” by proposing a tuition-free community college plan. Although it has received far less attention, the President’s plan also called for effective support services that can help students stay in college long enough to advance their career goals by completing degrees or certificates and/or transferring to four-year institutions. Rather than free tuition, which already exists for most students who need it, this study maintains instead that proven student support services are what need to be funded.

To pay for such services, Klor de Alva and Schneider lay out a potentially bipartisan strategy to create a funding stream — one resulting from Congress revisiting the current exemptions from taxation enjoyed by the large endowments held by a small number of very wealthy private, not-for-profit institutions.

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