Education Department Gives $44.5 to 22 Colleges and Universities to Strengthen Support and Career Pathways for Rural Community Students

The Biden-Harris Administration is providing $44.5 million in grants to 22 colleges and universities to improve enrollment, persistence, and completion rates for students living in rural communities.Dr. Miguel CardonaDr. Miguel CardonaSusan Walsh/AP

The Rural Postsecondary and Economic Development (RPED) grant program will provide select institutions will receive funds  to bolster engagement from high school students and create career pathways, with efforts such as college and career transition programs; career and academic coaching; outreach for at-risk students; and internships and workshops.

Students from U.S. rural communities face a number of hurdles when it comes to participating in higher ed, including financial literacy, transportation, food and housing insecurity, and internet access, according to the Department of Education (ED).

In rural communities, only 29% of people ages 18-24 are enrolled in higher ed. By contrast, in urban and suburban communities, the percentages of enrollees are almost 48% and 42%, respectively.

Some of the recipient schools include Arizona State University; Elizabethtown Community and Technical College; McDowell Technical Community College; University of Pennsylvania; and Voorhees University.

“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,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel A. Cardona. “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. These grant awards will help rural institutions Raise the Bar for student success and the attainment of valuable degrees and credentials that lead to brighter futures and greater prosperity.”