Financial Aid Information and College Applications: The Role School Counselors Play
Many American high school students know only the sticker price of college and make application decisions without properly incorporating the availability of extensive financial aid, particularly at elite colleges and universities. School counselors often cannot overcome this barrier because they are overwhelmed with high caseloads and have difficulty explaining the complexity of financial aid to students. This project will conduct a randomized controlled trial to examine whether providing guidance counselors with simple tools can help. Counselors assigned to treatment group schools will receive promotional material regarding MyinTuition, a simplified financial aid calculator that was first used by Wellesley College in 2013; it is expanding to more than a dozen highly selective colleges and universities beginning in the spring of 2017. It offers students individualized estimates of college costs factoring in financial aid upon providing six basic financial characteristics. MyinTuition takes the average user just three minutes to complete. It may help inform school counselors of the aid available to their students and provide an efficient way to communicate that information to them. The effectiveness of this approach can be determined by comparing application rates from treatment group secondary schools relative to control group schools at colleges and universities using MyinTuition.