Goucher College and The University of Maryland, Baltimore County were recognized for their efforts to support more low-income students in a report released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Education.

The report, "Fulfilling the Promise, Serving the Need: Advancing College Opportunity for Low-Income Students," highlights schools with higher percentages of low-income students, and schools where those students succeed in completing their degrees. The report looked at the number of students who receive Pell Grants, a need-based federal program for low-income students. Nearly 40 percent of all undergraduates now receive the grants.


UMBC has substantially increased the number of students receiving Pell Grants, and those students are completing their degrees. The percentage of students receiving Pell grants has jumped to 27 percent, between 2008 and 2013, according to the report. More than 60 percent of the UMBC Pell recipients graduated in six years.

"For students from low-and moderate-income families, a college degree is the surest path to the middle class in our country. I applaud the colleges and universities that have taken measurable steps to open up this pathway and make it a successful one for students from all backgrounds," said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. in a statement.

Higher income students are more likely to graduate on time, the report said. About two thirds of non-Pell Grant recipients graduate within six years, but only half of Pell Grant recipients earn their degrees in the same time period, according to the report.

Goucher College was highlighted for its efforts to track its Pell Grant recipients, and implement practices "which has improved feedback about factors impacting success," the report said.

U.S. education officials want to see more schools make more efforts to support low-income students. Some schools are seen as too expensive, discouraging qualified students from even applying, while others do little to help students complete their degrees, the report said.

"For us to thrive as a diverse democracy and for individuals to achieve their dreams of success, higher education must fulfill its promise of providing opportunity to all students, regardless of their race, gender, or income level," U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell said in a statement.