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Connecting Students With Financial Aid

Parents need access to information about college costs and manageable ways to apply for financial aid. That's the none-too-surprising finding of a recent study by the College Board.

The study, "Cracking the Student Aid Code," found by surveying parents and students that making the student-aid process simpler is key to helping families afford college. The Obama administration recognized this, and streamlined the FAFSA application. (Personal experience: three years ago, it took me days to finish the darn thing. When I did it last weekend, it took less than an hour.)

Improving the grassroots information lines will be tougher, since it's not something the federal government can accomplish in one fell swoop. The College Board's study found that not even half of the parents surveyed knew the cost of their state colleges. Latino parents have a particularly tough time with access to information: Only four in 10 were aware of the Pell grants that can help pay for college, compared with more than eight in 10 white and African-American parents.

My colleague Caralee Adams has more on this at our College Bound blog. Related to the need for college information was another recent study we told you about, that found parents could benefit from knowing colleges' graduation rates when they are considering their choices.

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