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Breaking Ground: Lower Income, Higher Ed

College is seen as one of the most important ways for young people to break the cycle of poverty. In 2012, young adults with a bachelor's degree earned 57 percent more than young adult high school grads ($46,900 vs. $30,000). In the past few years, the Obama administration, private foundations and education reformers have focused on helping low-income children apply to college and receive financial aid.

This, however, is only half the story. Research shows a very small percentage of low income students, just 9 percent, actually graduate from college. Usually they drop out in their freshmen year. That was the case for Christopher Feaster, a Washington, D.C. teen who graduated near the top of his class despite being homeless. Christopher won a full-ride scholarship to Michigan State University, but found college life was very different from what he expected.

In this Breaking Ground documentary, we’ll introduce you to Christopher, explore how his story reflects the broader challenges facing low-income students, and consider potential solutions to the nation’s dismal college completion rates for its most vulnerable students. 

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