Biden Administration Awards $44.5M to Support Rural Students

The administration gave 22 higher education institutions across 14 states grants ranging from $1 million to over $2.2 million each to increase support, enhance career pathways, and extend rural student access to higher education.
By
portrait of Evan Castillo
Evan Castillo
Read Full Bio

Editor & Writer

Evan Castillo is an associate writer on BestColleges News and wrote for the Daily Tar Heel during his time at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He's covered topics ranging from climate change to general higher education news, and he is...
Published on January 9, 2024
Edited by
portrait of Alex Pasquariello
Alex Pasquariello
Read Full Bio

Editor & Writer

Alex Pasquariello is a senior news editor for BestColleges. Prior to joining BestColleges he led Metropolitan State University of Denver's digital journalism initiative. He holds a BS in journalism from Northwestern University....
Learn more about our editorial process
Image Credit: Grant Faint / The Image Bank / Getty Images
  • In rural communities, 29% of people ages 18-24 are enrolled in higher education, compared to 48% of people from urban areas, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Rural students often face financial barriers to higher education, housing and food insecurity, and transportation insecurities.
  • Heritage University in Washington is using its grant to increase nursing education.

The Biden administration is investing millions to help students from rural communities in 14 states access higher education.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) is distributing $44.5 million in grants across 22 institutions with the goal of improving rural postsecondary education access.

"The grants announced today by the Biden-Harris administration reflect our commitment to empowering rural communities to build on their strengths, attract new investments, and prepare students for the high-skill, high-wage jobs of tomorrow," U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in ED's press release.

"When we invest in postsecondary attainment in rural communities, we create pathways for students to find rewarding careers that do not require them to leave their hometowns for economic opportunity."

Students from rural communities often face a lack of reliable transportation, food and housing insecurity, and barriers to healthcare access and high-speed internet, according to ED's press release.

The goal of the grants, ED said, is to improve postsecondary enrollment, persistence, and completion for students in rural communities. The Rural Postsecondary and Economic Development (RPED) grant program through ED promotes career pathway development to high-skill, high-wage, and in-demand jobs in the region.

According to ED, of people between the ages of 18 and 24:

  • 29% in rural communities are enrolled in higher education.
  • 48% in urban communities are enrolled in higher education.
  • 42% in suburban areas are enrolled in higher education.

Institutions Receiving Rural Postsecondary and Economic Development Grants

Alabama

Chevron Down

Athens State University: $2.2 million for student support, outreach, accessible learning opportunities

Arizona

Chevron Down

Arizona Board of Regents, Arizona State University: $2.2 million to enhance grade-level college and career awareness, increase access to college courses, and create summer learning programs

Graham County Community College District: $2.2 million to establish an early college program for high school students, enhance rural high school student outreach, and establish a career service center

California

Chevron Down

College Bridge: $2.2 million to increase student and educator access to postsecondary and workforce needs

Illinois

Board of Trustees of Western Illinois University: $2.2 million to improve college readiness, increase first-year retention by supporting incoming first-year students from rural high schools through academic and career advising, and increase third-year persistence and post-graduation employment rates

Northern Illinois University: $2.1 million to involve community partners in workforce development and create student support systems

Kentucky

Big Sandy Community and Technical College: $1.8 million to restructure the student advising structure

Elizabethtown Community and Technical College: $1.9 million to increase education, awareness, and engagement about diverse pathways in advanced manufacturing

Hazard Community and Technical College: $2.2 million for a transition program from high school to college with dual enrollment credit hubs, increased access to credited college courses, an online support system, and professional development for faculty and staff surrounding dual enrollment credits

Morehead State University: $2.2 million to assist high school students with enrollment and provide students with internships and career opportunities

New Mexico

The University of New Mexico-Valencia: $2.2 million to create early college camps for first-generation students, create nonacademic support services, and revitalize career and technical education programs

New York

The Research Foundation of SUNY at Alfred: $2 million to prepare students for high-demand jobs, work with local rural school districts for dual and early enrollment, and provide career pathway services

North Carolina

Appalachian State University: $2.2 million to create a college and career transition program for underserved students in five rural state districts

McDowell Technical Community College: $2.2 million to create a network of regional adult success coaches and develop a student support network to address basic student needs, including housing, childcare, transportation, and health and wellness

Pitt Community College: $1 million to provide career and academic coaching, job and career fairs, outreach to at-risk students, and support learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Oregon

Chemeketa Community College: $2.2 million to expand career and technical education dual credit courses, implement new technology, increase advising for the transition to college, and provide teachers with technology and professional development

Pennsylvania

Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania: $2.2 million to recruit and train high-performing 11th- and 12th-graders to tutor low-performing students in sixth through eighth grade

University of Pittsburgh: $2.2 million to develop career pathways and provide rural students with internships, mentoring, online tutoring, financial literacy, workshops, cohort programs, and cultural programming

South Carolina

Voorhees University: $2 million to strengthen transitions from high school to college and transitions from two-year institutions to four-year institutions

Tennessee

Columbia State Community College: $1.6 million to enroll all underserved populations in at least one dual enrollment course, provide college-oriented opportunities for high school students, provide career assessments, establish job shadowing and internship opportunities for high school and college students, and coordinate career and job fairs

Vermont

Vermont State Colleges: $1.9 million to provide college transfers from rural campuses with flexible pathways to high-wage and high-need jobs, 24/7 tutoring, access to paid experiential learning, enhanced college preparedness, and digitally accessible, flexible, hybrid, and online courses and programs for students

Washington

Heritage University: $1.4 million to increase the number of trained nurses through a Grow Your Own model, originally created to recruit and train teachers to bring racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity and skills into schools

Illinois

Chevron Down

Board of Trustees of Western Illinois University: $2.2 million to improve college readiness, increase first-year retention by supporting incoming first-year students from rural high schools through academic and career advising, and increase third-year persistence and post-graduation employment rates

Northern Illinois University: $2.1 million to involve community partners in workforce development and create student support systems

Kentucky

Chevron Down

Big Sandy Community and Technical College: $1.8 million to restructure the student advising structure

Elizabethtown Community and Technical College: $1.9 million to increase education, awareness, and engagement about diverse pathways in advanced manufacturing

Hazard Community and Technical College: $2.2 million for a transition program from high school to college with dual enrollment credit hubs, increased access to credited college courses, an online support system, and professional development for faculty and staff surrounding dual enrollment credits

Morehead State University: $2.2 million to assist high school students with enrollment and provide students with internships and career opportunities

New Mexico

The University of New Mexico-Valencia: $2.2 million to create early college camps for first-generation students, create nonacademic support services, and revitalize career and technical education programs

New York

The Research Foundation of SUNY at Alfred: $2 million to prepare students for high-demand jobs, work with local rural school districts for dual and early enrollment, and provide career pathway services

North Carolina

Appalachian State University: $2.2 million to create a college and career transition program for underserved students in five rural state districts

McDowell Technical Community College: $2.2 million to create a network of regional adult success coaches and develop a student support network to address basic student needs, including housing, childcare, transportation, and health and wellness

Pitt Community College: $1 million to provide career and academic coaching, job and career fairs, outreach to at-risk students, and support learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Oregon

Chemeketa Community College: $2.2 million to expand career and technical education dual credit courses, implement new technology, increase advising for the transition to college, and provide teachers with technology and professional development

Pennsylvania

Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania: $2.2 million to recruit and train high-performing 11th- and 12th-graders to tutor low-performing students in sixth through eighth grade

University of Pittsburgh: $2.2 million to develop career pathways and provide rural students with internships, mentoring, online tutoring, financial literacy, workshops, cohort programs, and cultural programming

South Carolina

Voorhees University: $2 million to strengthen transitions from high school to college and transitions from two-year institutions to four-year institutions

Tennessee

Columbia State Community College: $1.6 million to enroll all underserved populations in at least one dual enrollment course, provide college-oriented opportunities for high school students, provide career assessments, establish job shadowing and internship opportunities for high school and college students, and coordinate career and job fairs

Vermont

Vermont State Colleges: $1.9 million to provide college transfers from rural campuses with flexible pathways to high-wage and high-need jobs, 24/7 tutoring, access to paid experiential learning, enhanced college preparedness, and digitally accessible, flexible, hybrid, and online courses and programs for students

Washington

Heritage University: $1.4 million to increase the number of trained nurses through a Grow Your Own model, originally created to recruit and train teachers to bring racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity and skills into schools

New Mexico

Chevron Down

The University of New Mexico-Valencia: $2.2 million to create early college camps for first-generation students, create nonacademic support services, and revitalize career and technical education programs

New York

Chevron Down

The Research Foundation of SUNY at Alfred: $2 million to prepare students for high-demand jobs, work with local rural school districts for dual and early enrollment, and provide career pathway services

North Carolina

Appalachian State University: $2.2 million to create a college and career transition program for underserved students in five rural state districts

McDowell Technical Community College: $2.2 million to create a network of regional adult success coaches and develop a student support network to address basic student needs, including housing, childcare, transportation, and health and wellness

Pitt Community College: $1 million to provide career and academic coaching, job and career fairs, outreach to at-risk students, and support learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Oregon

Chemeketa Community College: $2.2 million to expand career and technical education dual credit courses, implement new technology, increase advising for the transition to college, and provide teachers with technology and professional development

Pennsylvania

Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania: $2.2 million to recruit and train high-performing 11th- and 12th-graders to tutor low-performing students in sixth through eighth grade

University of Pittsburgh: $2.2 million to develop career pathways and provide rural students with internships, mentoring, online tutoring, financial literacy, workshops, cohort programs, and cultural programming

South Carolina

Voorhees University: $2 million to strengthen transitions from high school to college and transitions from two-year institutions to four-year institutions

Tennessee

Columbia State Community College: $1.6 million to enroll all underserved populations in at least one dual enrollment course, provide college-oriented opportunities for high school students, provide career assessments, establish job shadowing and internship opportunities for high school and college students, and coordinate career and job fairs

Vermont

Vermont State Colleges: $1.9 million to provide college transfers from rural campuses with flexible pathways to high-wage and high-need jobs, 24/7 tutoring, access to paid experiential learning, enhanced college preparedness, and digitally accessible, flexible, hybrid, and online courses and programs for students

Washington

Heritage University: $1.4 million to increase the number of trained nurses through a Grow Your Own model, originally created to recruit and train teachers to bring racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity and skills into schools

North Carolina

Chevron Down

Appalachian State University: $2.2 million to create a college and career transition program for underserved students in five rural state districts

McDowell Technical Community College: $2.2 million to create a network of regional adult success coaches and develop a student support network to address basic student needs, including housing, childcare, transportation, and health and wellness

Pitt Community College: $1 million to provide career and academic coaching, job and career fairs, outreach to at-risk students, and support learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Oregon

Chevron Down

Chemeketa Community College: $2.2 million to expand career and technical education dual credit courses, implement new technology, increase advising for the transition to college, and provide teachers with technology and professional development

Pennsylvania

Chevron Down

Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania: $2.2 million to recruit and train high-performing 11th- and 12th-graders to tutor low-performing students in sixth through eighth grade

University of Pittsburgh: $2.2 million to develop career pathways and provide rural students with internships, mentoring, online tutoring, financial literacy, workshops, cohort programs, and cultural programming

South Carolina

Chevron Down

Voorhees University: $2 million to strengthen transitions from high school to college and transitions from two-year institutions to four-year institutions

Tennessee

Chevron Down

Columbia State Community College: $1.6 million to enroll all underserved populations in at least one dual enrollment course, provide college-oriented opportunities for high school students, provide career assessments, establish job shadowing and internship opportunities for high school and college students, and coordinate career and job fairs

Vermont

Chevron Down

Vermont State Colleges: $1.9 million to provide college transfers from rural campuses with flexible pathways to high-wage and high-need jobs, 24/7 tutoring, access to paid experiential learning, enhanced college preparedness, and digitally accessible, flexible, hybrid, and online courses and programs for students

Washington

Chevron Down

Heritage University: $1.4 million to increase the number of trained nurses through a Grow Your Own model, originally created to recruit and train teachers to bring racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity and skills into schools

Heritage University is using its grant to recruit and train nurses through a Grow Your Own model, designed to bring racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity and skills into schools. In April 2023, the University of Oklahoma used a $16 million federal grant to train medical students from underserved communities so they can set up practices in their communities.

BestColleges analyzed 2020 data showing that food-insecure students are less likely to earn bachelor's degrees than food-secure students (21% vs. 36%).

John Hancock, assistant vice president for wellness and support at the University of Northern Colorado, previously told BestColleges that data shows intersectionality around historically excluded identities and food insecurities. Students can feel like they have lots of forces against them.

"So what's a student to do in terms of trying to keep up with the expenses?" Hancock asked. "And this is true if it's just you, but imagine now if you have a dependent that counts on you, a child, in terms of how are you going to pinch pennies and try to make all this work."