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Eric Bettinger

Eric Bettinger

Eric Bettinger,

Improving access to a college education

As a teenager in rural Oregon, Eric Bettinger was the fifth of 13 siblings in a family that was struggling financially. Having distinguished himself as a top scholar-athlete in high school—valedictorian, student body president and all-state football player—he drew attention from several universities and was the first of his siblings to go to college, attending Brigham Young and graduating debt-free with a degree in economics.

While he is grateful for the many adults that helped him get to college, in retrospect, he wishes his support community had focused more on students who were less aware of possibilities for their future. “These adults spent a lot of time trying to support me, and I’m grateful, but I was already so motivated,” he says. “I wish some of that support had gone to friends who didn’t know how to find these opportunities.”

Now a professor at GSE, Bettinger devotes much of his research to ways to improve access to a college education (including simplified application and financial aid forms) and students’ ability to thrive once they’re in the system. “If we’re giving them access to something that’s not going to sustain them as they grow, that’s just lip service,” he says. “We need to help them succeed.”

June 10, 2018
Photo by Ilana M. Horwitz, PhD '19

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