Help Through the Maze
“This event was so informative for me. I’ve never had anyone guide me or explain the way you did. Thank you. I probably would have gone to college when I was younger, if I had had this guidance.”
Parent, Kennedy High School, Chicago
HSF’s outreach programs are designed precisely for this parent, someone who wants a college education for his/her child, but doesn’t have the necessary information to make it happen. Numerous studies have confirmed that most Latino parents do not receive critical financial aid information when their child is in K-12, leading to a fear in many Latino households about financing college. More distressing, there’s a tendency by parents to overestimate the cost of college, which discourages them from helping their child get a college degree.
A college degree is a necessity in order to earn a livable wage these days. It’s a proven fact that young adults with just a high school degree earn nearly $20,000 less per year than those with a baccalaureate degree. Hispanic Americans, in particular, have an uphill climb to attain higher education, often being dismissed by high school counselors and teachers as not being ‘college material.’ HSF scholars and alumni have proven these assumptions wrong time and again.
To counter the lack of information about college and financial aid that is available to students and their parents, HSF conducted nationwide outreach events in 12 states to nearly 12,000 Latino students and parents. Thirty events—including Town Hall Meetings and Steps for Success Saturdays—were conducted over the course of the 2009-2010 academic year. With rare exception, we had very high attendance, including two events with over 1,000 students and parents. Approximately 75% of attendees speak Spanish at home, and 70% of the students who attended would be the first in their family to attend college.
Our presentations provided detailed information about when and how to prepare for college, how to apply to college, and how to find scholarships and access financial aid, including Federal Student Aid. Before and after each event, we asked participants a set of questions to ascertain the effectiveness of our presentations. With all the evaluations tallied, the results are in … and they’re impressive.
Before the presentations, only 55% were familiar with college preparatory courses and a little over half of the attendees knew the recommended number of years of math and science courses to take. After the presentation 81% knew about the college prep courses, and 62% and 70%, respectively, could cite the recommended years of math and science courses for college admission. And 80% of the attendees, post-event, knew the application steps for a four-year college, compared to only 53% prior to the presentation.
Most rewarding were attendees’ expanded knowledge about financial aid resources. Prior to our presentations only 36% of the attendees thought they could afford college, whereas after the presentation 57% believed college was affordable. And attendees’ knowledge about finding scholarships and accessing financial aid nearly doubled. One student who attended a Steps for Success Saturday event at Brentwood High School in California commented: “It was an amazing presentation, it opened my eyes about opportunities regarding college.” Yes!
If you would like to participate in an upcoming Town Hall Meeting or Steps for Success Saturday, register with the HSF Alumni Network. We will contact you when an event in your area is scheduled.