Background and Focus:
Financial aid determines college choice and enrollment for low-income students more
than any other income group. The goal of this project pertains to understanding
high school student’s perceptions of financial aid and access.
The project focuses on the following research questions:
Research Design and Method:
To address these questions, the research team has designed an action-oriented three
year project that includes nine high schools in California’s Los Angeles County with
similar low-income, high minority populations. Three high schools have a high college
going rate. Three high schools have a low college going rate. The final three high
schools are charter schools with mixed rates of college going. At least one high school
in each category serves a large population of undocumented students. Interviews,
focus groups, and observations will serve as the main methods of data collection.
These methods will allow researchers to engage students, parents, teachers,
counselors, and financial aid practitioners throughout the data collection process.
What are the problems that (a) schools, (b) students, and their families, and
(c) postsecondary institutions encounter that preclude effective discussions
about financial aid?
What are the kinds of information, communication, and activities about financial
aid that need to take place between schools and postsecondary
What is the most effective environment for discussions about financial aid?
What needs to change within the school so that discussions about access to
financial aid are clear, systematic, and thorough?
The project will span three years; in the first year the main focus is gaining entry
and developing relationships at the nine high school sites. Key stakeholders -
practitioners, parents, researchers, and students - will be included from the
project’s inception. In the second year, we will make repeated visits to the nine high
schools sites, gather data, and begin to share findings with key stakeholders. In the
third year, the data will come together as we develop intellectually and practically
sound financial aid information materials, and disseminate the findings.