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financial aid

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Posts Tagged ‘financial aid’

Closing the College Attendance Gap Between Rich and Poor

Friday, February 5th, 2010

If you’ve ever tried filling out your own tax return, you’re no doubt familiar with the frustration that often comes from deciphering government documents. Many parents feel exactly the same way when they try to tackle the FAFSA — the free application for federal financial aid. While the application may be free, it often costs many hours of aggravation to complete it. Now a new study has found that helping low- and moderate-income parents with the FAFSA might be a good way to start closing the college attendance gap between rich and poor.

In The Role of Simplification and Information in College Decisions: Results from the H&R Block FAFSA Experiment, co-authors Eric Bettinger, Bridget Terry Long, Philip Oreopoulos, and Lisa Sanbonmatsu report on the results of a random assignment experiment. One group of low- and moderate-income families received help completing the FAFSA from H & R Block tax professionals. They also were given an estimate of how much government aid they might receive along with information about local college options. A control group received personalized aid eligibility information, but did not get any assistance with the FAFSA.  When the researchers compared the two groups, they found that those who completed the FAFSA with the help of H & R Block were substantially more likely to not only submit the financial aid form, but also enroll in college the following fall and qualify for more financial aid.

 While all kinds of approaches have been tried over the years to increase college attendance rates among low-income students, this study involving 23,000 people suggests that one answer may lie in helping families gain access to financial aid. The low-income families who were not expected to contribute to their child’s college expenses were the ones who benefitted the most from the intervention.

College Admissions: The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Your essays are written, your recommendation letters are mailed, and your college applications are submitted. Now what? Well, college admissions counselors suggest there are some things you can be doing while you’re waiting for the fat envelope. U.S. News & World Report talked to a few of them, and here’s what they suggest:

  •  Follow up with your high school: You requested your transcripts, but were they actually sent? This is a busy time of year for high school counseling offices, and it’s important to check so you don’t accidently fall through the cracks.
  • Market yourself to colleges: Now is the time to visit to the school of your choice and see if you can get an interview with someone from the admissions office. But once you’re there, be considerate of people’s time.
  • Consider your options: If you really like a school, but are undecided about your major, consider choosing a program with lower enrollments.
  • Think about finances: Now is the time to complete those lengthy financial aid forms, and talk to your parents about your options. Don’t wait until you’re accepted to apply for financial aid.

Those are some do’s, and you can find more tips here.  What about the don’ts? Greg Roberts, dean of admissions at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, says that’s pretty simple. Don’t “send mountains of unessential supplemental information, or e-mail or continually contact the admission representative during the time when they are reading applications 60 hours per week.”