A new study suggests that basic information—especially regarding costs—might substantially might encourage more high-achieving, low-income students to apply to top colleges.
In addition, according to the Times, coupons to waive application fees “had a particularly big effect.” I suspect those fee waivers are substantial barriers for many families, and I’d be interested in seeing a study that isolated the effect of waiving application fees alone.
A broader question is to what extent low-income young people in general—not just the highest achievers—are informed about the different kinds of postsecondary education options available to them. I recall a conversation a few years ago with a community college official who told me that for many of the students at his institution, not understanding how to apply for financial aid was as big an issue as the cost of college itself.
Note: Revised last paragraph about an hour after posting to make it a little clearer and easier to read.
UPDATE: I just noticed a piece published Friday by ProPublica on the increasing number of fees charged by many colleges and universities in addition to tuition, which I’m sure contributes to the challenge of figuring out the actual costs of attending.