Susan Dynarski honored by Michigan for tackling barriers to education for low-income youth

October 8, 2015

On September 21st, State Representative Adam Zemke, State Senator Rebekah Warren, and Governor Rick Snyder honored Professor Susan Dynarski with a special tribute from the state for her work on the HAIL (High Achieving Involved Leaders) Scholarship program at the University of Michigan.

The pilot program provides full financial support, an estimated value of $60,000, to high-achieving, low-income youth from 259 public high schools across Michigan. It will also provide a unique step-by-step guide to the application process for families who may lack information or face additional financial barriers.

Dynarski, who has focused extensively on increasing access to higher education through her research, has also testified about education and tax policy before the US Senate Finance Committee, the US House Ways and Means Committee and the President's Commission on Tax Reform.

"What we have observed is that many smart students forgo college in the mistaken belief that they cannot afford it," says Dynarski. "The financial aid system, which is intended to increase opportunities for low-income students, is largely to blame. The HAIL Scholarship is unique in its tailored outreach, simplified aid process, and early financial commitment to qualified students. We anticipate that it will help to expand the number of high-achieving students from disadvantaged backgrounds who consider, apply to, and ultimately attend the University. That is the end goal and test of the program's success." 

Susan M. Dynarski is a professor of public policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, and a professor of education at the University of Michigan's School of Education. She is co-founder and co-director of the Ford School’s Education Policy Initiative, which engages in applied, policy-relevant research designed to improve educational achievement and outcomes.