Industry Market Trends

Connecting Low-Income Students to a Better Education and Future

Apr 01, 2013

money light Credit:

New research reveals that most high-achieving, low-income students do not apply to America's top-ranking colleges. Unable to surmount rising tuition rates and personal financial pressures, many such students opt, instead, for non-selective institutions, and some avert higher-education altogether. The emergence of stronger financial aid packages and scholarships can bring these students back from the brink, encourage them toward higher education and life-rewarding careers, and ultimately fuel the economy for future generations.

According to a research study made public in December by the National Bureau of Economic Research, high-achieving students from low-income families display "income-typical behavior" by choosing to apply to non-selective institutions that are often closer to home. Many students avoid applying to top national schools because they are, in part, unaware of financial aid available to them.

US News Education recently reported how a monetary "fear factor" creates an economic diversity gap in education, as low-income families prevent their children from applying to schools. Making financial matters more burdensome for low-income students and their families, sequestration is set to hit educational grant programs, during award year 2014-2015.

According to FinAid, low income is defined as "family incomes below about $40,000, by Pell Grant eligibility, or families with incomes below 200 percent of the poverty line."

Such a challenge only exacerbates the struggle for STEM and related industries and the manufacturing sector overall to close the skills gap, as they face a potentially long-term crisis. Unless more financial assistance is made available, industrial, technology, and manufacturing companies will continue to find difficulty in attaining top young talent who may otherwise have remained in the pipeline and gone on to fill available industry positions .

To address the nationwide issue, President Barack Obama revealed plans to help make college more affordable as part of his 2013 budget. His administration has increased the maximum Pell Grant in 2013, ensuring access to postsecondary education for nearly 10 million needy students. According to the White House, it will continue to provide the necessary resources to sustain the maximum grant.

Although rising tuition rates are putting a strain on students across the country, some colleges are onboard to help, but you won't find loan programs in their financial aid packages. Several colleges across the country are now offering "free-tuition" programs for financially pressed students. For example, California Institute of Technology (Caltech) replaces loans with grants in its financial aid package for U.S. students with family incomes of less than $60,000, according to FinAid, which features a comprehensive list of colleges offering financial accommodations, found here.

Scholarships are also helping connect the brightest students to the best schools, including those sponsored by the private sector in the STEM and manufacturing industries. As IMT Career Journal recently reported, there are a number of scholarships available specifically for STEM students, who will eventually help propel the country's competitive edge.

ThomasNet Joins Efforts in Helping the Next Generationscholarship_logo featured

Now IMT Career Journal's parent company, ThomasNet, has announced that it will actively help close the manufacturing skills gap by offering the ThomasNet North American Manufacturing Scholarship. Up to 30 students with an interest in pursuing manufacturing-related disciplines at two-year, four-year, or vocational-tech schools will each receive a $1,000 scholarship. (Full press release can be found here.)

"With the launch of ThomasNet's first North American Manufacturing Scholarship Program, we will recognize those star performers who have already demonstrated achievement in their schools and communities, and who plan to bring their skills and talents to this important industry," ThomasNet President Eileen Markowitz said.

Eligible applicants are graduating U.S. high school seniors and Canadian secondary students who plan to major in engineering or supply chain management/business operations or learn a skilled trade.

IMT Career Journal invites its readership to join in on the ThomasNet scholarship effort. By signing up for at least one free IMT newsletter, ThomasNet will contribute up to $30,000 to the program with each new subscription. Students and educators can find more information on the scholarship at, and students have until July 1 to apply.