Feb. 20, 2007

Lifeline to Low-Income Students

U.S. Education Department

Margaret Spellings and the financial aid form

That low-income Americans are far less likely to go to college than their
peers are is a fact; less clear are the reasons why.

In a memorable stunt at a news conference in September where she discussed
the <>  need to simplify
that process, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings unfavorably compared
the length and complexity of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid
(FAFSA) to the standard federal tax form.

The experiment, which is aimed at lower-income people who have teenage or
college-age children or are potential college students themselves, seeks to
gauge whether making it easier for low- and moderate-income families to
apply for financial aid improves their college-going rates. What is unusual,
however, is the research design - offering taxpayers a painless way to turn
the information on their tax forms into a financial aid application - and
the sponsor: H&R Block, the tax preparation company.

Here's how the project, which involves researchers at Case Western Reserve
University and University of Toronto in addition to Long, works: 




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