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Del. Initiative Aims to Improve College Access for Low-Income Students

Too often, disadvantaged high school students lack the resources needed to apply to the colleges where they are most likely to succeed.

A new initiative sponsored by the College Board, several elite colleges, and the state of Delaware aims to address that problem by giving students application information and support for the best college match.

This fall, low-income students with high academic potential will get a packet of materials with detailed information about applying to college, financial aid, and college application fee waivers. The mailing will also include letters from each school in the Ivy League, as well as Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, encouraging them to apply.

"Too many students are turned off to a college because they don't know about all of the available financial assistance or they underestimate their qualifications," said Gov. Jack Markell in a press release. Our partnership with the College Board is a significant step toward solving these challenges."

Students with the potential to succeed at selective institutions often under-match because they aren't aware of the opportunity, know someone who has attended, or realize there is often generous financial aid available, according to research by Caroline Hoxby of Stanford University. Not only can these schools be more affordable, but the retention and graduation rates are often higher because the institutions have more resources to invest in instruction and student supports.

The effort announced in Delaware today, which includes mailings to 2,200 students, is part of a larger effort by the College Board to expand college access. Earlier this summer, the College Board committed to sending information packets about the college search to the top 10 to 15 percent of SAT test-takers in the Class of 2014 whose families make under $40,000 a year. The cost of the packets was expected to be $8 to $10 per student.

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