- Associated Press - Sunday, January 19, 2014

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - The president of the University of Vermont says he’s hopeful that President Barack Obama will address access to higher education during his upcoming State of the Union address.

UVM President Tom Sullivan made the remarks after attending a meeting at the White House this past week with about 80 other college presidents. He said both Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama spent about an hour with the group on Thursday, indicating strong interest by the president.

Sullivan says that while at the meeting, he talked up UVM’s New Americans program as an example of the school’s efforts to broaden access to higher education.

The program aims to increase the enrollment and timely graduation of students from families who have immigrated from abroad to Vermont, including many who are refugees.

It includes outreach to families, with a focus on early awareness about the opportunity and benefits of going to college, as well as making families aware of the extensive financial aid that is available.

The goal is to “identify students and then to give them a very high-touch personal approach so that they fully grasp all the steps involved in applying to college and seeking financial aid,” Sullivan said.

He added, “We want them to feel comfortable and confident that when they apply, they will be able to understand the pathway to a successful college experience, including a timely graduation.”

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