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Programs at Higher Education Institutions for Disadvantaged Precollege Students
NCES 96230
December 1995


The Survey on Precollegiate Programs for Disadvantaged Students at Higher Education Institutions was requested by the Planning and Evaluation Service of the Office of the Under Secretary within the U.S. Department of Education. This survey was intended to obtain information about programs at higher education institutions that are designed to increase the access of educationally or economically disadvantaged elementary and secondary students to higher education. Only the largest such program (based on funding) at each institution was included in the survey. Data were collected from 2-year and 4-year higher education institutions in fall 1994 and were weighted to provide national estimates.

  • Roughly one-third (32 percent) of all institutions offered at least one program for precollegiate students in 1993-94 (table 1).
  • Programs were especially common at large institutions (71 percent) and public institutions (45 percent).
  • At 47 percent of the institutions with programs, the largest precollegiate program accounted for all of the precollegiate students served by the institution (figure 1).
  • The largest precollegiate programs served 317,400 students in 1993-94 and involved 9,600 faculty and staff (table 3). If all precollegiate programs for the disadvantaged are included, the enrollment was at least 525,100, with about 90,000 expected to graduate from high school in the next year. Of the students in the largest programs, 68 percent were from low-income families, 59 percent were female, 39 percent were black, and 29 percent were Hispanic (tables 11 and 12).
  • The goals that institutions most often listed among the top three for their largest program were increasing the likelihood of the students attending college (78 percent), increasing general academic skills development (67 percent), and increasing retention in or completion of high school (64 percent; figure 2).
  • Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of the precollegiate program participants in 1993-94 were high school students; the next largest group was middle or junior high school students (25 percent; table 14). For slightly under half of the programs (44 percent), students usually entered the program in the freshman or sophomore year of senior high school (figure 5). On average, students participated for 2.9 years (table 9).
  • Half (51 percent) of the institutions reported that the federal government was the primary source of funding for the program, while state and/or local government funding was the next most common primary source (20 percent; table 4).
  • Most students (58 percent) were in full-year programs, which were much more intensive than the part-year programs (table 8). In full-year programs, students spent a mean of 323 hours in program activities, compared with 166 hours in programs operating only during the summer and 86 hours in programs operating during the academic year (figure 3). Within the full-year programs, most of students' time was spent during the summer (206 hours versus 117 during the academic year).
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  • The precollegiate services that were most often considered among the three most important by the institutions were social skills development (43 percent), information about college admissions and/or financial aid (35 percent), supplemental courses (33 percent), and career counseling (32 percent; table 16).
  • Most of the programs (63 percent) provided some type of financial award, with 50 percent paying a stipend for participation and 33 percent offering financial benefits (such as scholarships and college courses for free or at reduced prices) for successful performance (table 17).
  • One focus of this survey was on comparing Upward Bound precollegiate programs with other precollegiate programs at higher education institutions. Upward Bound is the oldest and largest (in terms of funding) of six Special Programs for Disadvantaged Students (TRIO) programs administered by the U.S. Department of Education to help disadvantaged students to complete postsecondary education. It is directed at 13- to 19-years-old high schools student, and generally provides an intensive 6-week summer program at a college campus along with continued support during the school year.
  • Upward Bound programs had significant differences from other precollegiate programs for the disadvantaged.
  • They were more likely to rank the following services as being among their three most important: accelerated courses below the college level (35 percent versus 10 percent), other supplemental courses (44 percent versus 28 percent), and information about admissions and/or financial aid (56 percent versus 27 percent; table 16).
  • They were also more likely to have their students usually start in the freshman or sophomore years (97 percent versus 20 percent; table 13).
  • As might be expected for a federally funded program, they more frequently said that federal funding was their primary source of funding (97 percent versus 30 percent; table 4).
  • Upward Bound programs were much more intensive than other programs, with students spending a mean of 433 hours over the full year, compared with 166 hours for other programs (table 9).
  • They also differed in the financial benefits offered, including a greater use of college courses at reduced prices (61 percent versus 22 percent; table 18).