American RadioWorks |
Image: Harvard First Generation Student Union Facebook Page.

The First Gen Movement

Over the past decade many elite colleges have taken great strides to admit low-income students, but there are unanticipated financial and cultural barriers to fitting in on campus that can’t easily be solved by merely giving students a foot in the door. Questions of class differences have spurred a nationwide movement of “first generation” student clubs on college campuses.

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in collaboration with Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity

Provide mobile-accessible bank accounts and graduated social services; reduce program bureaucracy

File under: banking, taxes, security, identity, simplify, welfare, technology

0 (0 votes)

From: Greg H., Roseville, MN

1) Revise tax law to eliminate any taxes on savings for individuals earning at or below three times the federal poverty level. This will help get people up and moving.

2) Provide a state bank account to everyone who cannot get a private sector bank account. This would be used for saving money and being able to deposit paychecks. Lack of a bank account due to changing addresses and employment status puts some people at the mercy of payday lenders and the vicious cycle of never ending loan payments.

3) Provide a cell phone-based mechanism for people in poverty to transfer credit and money from their bank. (It's working in Africa!)

4) Revise social services from the "either you get it or you don't" model to the graduated, tapering-off model. Many folks suffer from having to remain in poverty to keep one or two critical social services benefits that low paying jobs don't provide and that they require to keep a job (for example health care for a chronic illness). Often, when they get a job, their new income eliminates their qualification for all social services even though that income isn't enough to cover food, daycare, transportation, and other expenses. Give them partial coverage for daycare, health care, or other needs. Help them succeed.

5) Embed more identity security technology in the social services distribution system to prevent fraudulent double-dipping. That would free up resources for real need.

6) Reduce overhead and redundant bureaucracy by decreasing the number of programs and organizations, and managing programs centrally. This would push more program dollars to the people who need them.


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American RadioWorks |
Image: Harvard First Generation Student Union Facebook Page.

The First Gen Movement

Over the past decade many elite colleges have taken great strides to admit low-income students, but there are unanticipated financial and cultural barriers to fitting in on campus that can’t easily be solved by merely giving students a foot in the door. Questions of class differences have spurred a nationwide movement of “first generation” student clubs on college campuses.

Recent Posts

  • 04.15.15

    The Lost Children of Katrina

    In the year following Hurricane Katrina, 30 percent of displaced children were either not enrolled in school or not attending regularly. Today, Louisiana has the nation’s highest rate of young adults who are neither in school nor working. And researchers are starting to ask: could the widespread gaps in schooling after Katrina be the reason?
  • 04.08.15

    Saving a Women’s College from Closure

    Last month the board of Sweet Briar College announced that the school will shut its doors at the end of this term, due to financial difficulties. The announcement was made abruptly, sending the campus community into a state of shock... and then activism.
  • 04.01.15

    The Future of College

    Kevin Carey's book "The End of College" is stirring up debate in higher ed circles. This week, a response to the book by a critic.
  • 03.25.15

    The End of College or the University of Everywhere

    When education policy wonk Kevin Carey looks into the future, he sees the end of traditional colleges and universities and he says that's a good thing.