A&M International Joins National "College is Possible' Campaign

Texas A&M International University president Charles Jennett today announced that the University has joined forces with a national education campaign aimed at enhancing public knowledge about financing a college education that was launched today in Washington, D. C.

A&M International numbers among the nearly 1200 colleges and universities participating in the Coalition of American College's campaign dubbed "College is Possible" presented today in front of the Martin Luther King Memorial Library in Washington.

The campaign includes local outreach efforts designed for students and their parents, a website, toll-free phone number and a special comprehensive resource guide.

"We're honored to be a part of this bold initiative and are delighted to be able to help our community to realize that 'College is Possible' right here at home," said Dr. Jennett.

"Our partnership with this campaign will enable us to further expand on our service commitment to helping students and their families to identify and receive important information about financing a college education. With the help of University partners in the public and private sectors, we can confidently say that no A&M International student is unable to attend our University because of financial barriers," he added.

Dr. Stephen Brown, dean of student affairs at A&M International, said the campaign is in response to survey research conducted earlier this year that showed that, while parents and students value a college education, many dramatically overestimate the price, often by as much as 200 percent. Many also underestimate the resources that are available to them to help pay for college.

"Clearly, many citizens may miss out on the opportunity for a college education because they do not have adequate information about the range of options and sources of help. Sadly, those students most at risk are minority students, families with low incomes and students whose parents did not attend college," Dr. Brown observed.

"The good news today is that a four-year college or university education is an important, attainable, and affordable option. There is $60 billion available to students in financial aid from federal, state, local, and institutional sources to help them meet bills. Seven out of 10 full-time students qualify for financial aid - and many receive a substantial amount. Here at A&M international, over 80 percent of students qualify for some form of financial assistance. Indeed, as the campaign maintains, ''College is Possible,' " Brown explained.

Jennett said the University is looking forward to launching community-based initiatives that will be designed to bring information about college accessibility into the homes and hearts of area citizens.

"One recent effort, our 'Preview Day '98,' attracted over 400 potential students and their parents to the University for a Saturday event that focused on financial aid, college life and study possibilities, was an outstanding success. On February 4, 1999 we will be presenting an all day Financial Aid Fair at the University to help share this important news. We'll be joined by students from throuhgout LISD, UISD andother local public and private schools as well as major national financial aid lenders," Jennett said.

Jennett said the national campaign offers the local university a chance to help close the information gap about college accessibility.

"As American Council of Education (ACE) president Stanley O. Ikenberry said this morning in Washington, colleges have an obligation to help Americans become better, more knowledgeable consumers of higher education. No deserving student should be deprived of a college degree because he or she doesn't have the right information. We believe this 'College is Possible' campaign will help to close the information gap," Jennett said.

The campaign, slated to run through the year 2000, will also encourage colleges and universities to adopt creative and innovative cost-cutting measures, and better communicate with the public about the complexities of college financing.

Participants in the Washington launch of the campaign noted that despite the stabilization of tuition increases in recent years, the higher education community must continue to find ways to contain costs and control tuition increases. At the same time, organizers said, information must be provided with respect to actual versus perceived tuition prices, as well as efforts to educate people about why college costs what it does.

For additional information about the nationwide 'College is Possible' campaign and Texas A&M International University, contact the Financial Aid Office at 326.2225.

Information can also be accessed from a web site (www.CollegeIsPossible.org) and the U.S. Department of Education's special toll-free number (1-800-433-3243).

The Coalition of America's Colleges and Universities consists of nearly 1,200 colleges, universities, and associations across the United States that have come together to help increase public understanding of the financing of higher education.

Because studies have demonstrated that the public lacks adequate information to make informed choices involving higher education, coalition members have committed to engage their communities on the issues of tuition prices, the wide availability of student aid, and campus efforts to improve cost management.

Through local outreach , the toll-free number and website, the Coalition wants to get a simple three-word message out to the American people: College Is Possible.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu