Low-Income College Students Not Meeting Financial Assistance Deadlines

"It’s easy to surmise that college students from low income backgrounds would be first in line to meet deadline requirements for financial assistance. However, a University of Illinois at Chicago study, [published in the Journal of Student Financial Aid,] found that students with the greatest need for financial aid, are not submitting applications early enough to receive it," The Chicago Citizen reports. "'Among all low-income students who qualify for need-based aid, those with a slightly higher expected family contribution are more likely to complete the application in time, as are those who had at least one parent who attended college, and who had better grades in high school,' said Mary Feeney, UIC associate professor of public administration. According to the study, students with the greatest need for financial aid for college are the least prepared to submit the applications early enough to receive it. Feeney conducted the study, published in the Journal of Student Financial Aid, with John Heroff, outreach policy specialist at the Illinois Student Assistance Commission. The pair analyzed economic, social and academic data on a random sample of 4,000 among 169,000 freshman students who qualified for the Illinois Monetary Award Program, which allocates need-based aid on a first-come, first-served basis; and who completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, which is used not only for federal aid but also by states and colleges in making grants. In FY2012, 158,349 Illinois students received MAP funding, which can be used for tuition and fees at any of about 140 public and private colleges in the state. 'Completing the application requires a considerable amount of effort and social capital — personal networks that students can draw on to gain information,' Feeney said. 'Students who have access to an adult who understands the process — a relative, guidance counselor, clergy member, or someone at a neighborhood association — are significantly more likely to complete the form and attend college.'”

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