From today’s Inside Higher Ed newsletter comes this article on the College Board’s new policies that will allow college admissions officers to identify potential applicants from low-income neighborhoods:
[C]olleges in the pilot program will be able to identify probable low-income students by purchasing names of those who live in certain low-income zip codes or attend certain low-income high schools. This may sound innocuous — after all, colleges routinely plan visits to certain high schools in impoverished areas as part of efforts to recruit disadvantaged students. But the pilot represents a significant shift for the College Board, which moved away from selling zip code-based names 20 years ago when some colleges were using the information to try to attract wealthier students.
The experiment — which features strict rules designed to make sure colleges use the purchases only to increase socioeconomic diversity, not to limit it — come at the request of colleges that wanted new ways to reach low-income students. Many educators believe that the key reason the poorest students have low enrollment rates in higher education is not a lack of availability of financial aid, but lack of information about aid that exists. The only way to combat this problem, they argue, is direct communication with prospective students and their families, with information focused on their economic situation.
In an ideal world, getting information about financial aid to those who need it would be routine, and would begin long before a young person had taken the SAT, but it should be interesting to follow this pilot