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The Minority Advancement Program, and Ending the Transcript Trap in CT

Do You Know About The Minority Advancement Program?

Last Wednesday, the Appropriations Committee heard budget presentations from the Office of Higher Education, the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System (CSCUs), and UConn. Much of the conversation concerned: (a) the administration of the state’s Roberta B. Willis Scholarship Program (RWSP), which awards need-based and need-merit grants to students attending colleges in Connecticut; and (b) funding levels for the CSCUs in the Governor's proposed budget.

There is very little data about the impact of the RWSP on student success or degree attainment. However, Office of Higher Education (OHE) Executive Director Tim Larson testified that the OHE is capable of administering the grant in any fashion that the legislature deems appropriate.

Discussion of the CSCUs surrounded the idea that they have been essentially flat funded for many years. CSCU President Terrence Cheng testified that, "Our system, with a flat operating budget for 15 years, has not been able to invest in the academic programs, in the student supports, and the infrastructure that our students and our state truly need and deserve.” But some legislators worried about increasing funding for a system that is dropping in enrollment.

This year, our affiliate, ERN CT, is calling for a different type of investment in higher education that will have accountability measures to ensure funding really is addressing student needs.

Administered by Connecticut's Office of Higher Education, the Minority Advancement Program (MAP) is a little-known and seriously underfunded effort by the state to invest in institutions of higher education that develop strategies for the success of students of color. In the 2022-23 fiscal year, MAP was awarded only $1.69M, to be allocated through a competitive grant among Connecticut's institutions of higher education. (Think: $30K to Manchester Community College and $100K to Southern Connecticut State University, each for efforts to increase completion rates for students of color who need additional academic support.) Given Connecticut’s surplus, ERN CT would like to see a significant expansion of this statewide program, attached to more robust requirements for data collection and accountability reporting.

Federal data reveal that, in 2021, seven of Connecticut's 4-year colleges graduated less than half of their enrolled students of color within 6 years. This failure to adequately serve students of color seeking educational opportunity in Connecticut is a civil rights injustice. At times, it can leave students worse off than before they enrolled, if they accumulate debts without earning degrees.

Students who enroll in higher education deserve to have institutions that are set up to meet their needs. Click here to learn about expanding the Minority Advancement Program.

Ending the Transcript Trap in CT

In case you missed it, Amy joined numerous constituents to testify before the General Assembly's Committee on Higher Education and Employment Advancement on Thursday. Among numerous bills for consideration was S.B. No. 922, An Act Prohibiting an Institution of Higher Education from Withholding Transcripts. It seeks to end a highly discriminatory practice within Connecticut institutions of higher education, in which a student's transcripts are withheld if he or she has any amount of unpaid debt, even small amounts unrelated to tuition. We call it the Transcript Trap. The Committee advanced a similar bill that would have ended the Transcript Trap last year, but it didn’t cross the finish like. This year, we are proud and hopeful that the idea has been revived as a Committee bill.


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