As admissions season descends, warning signs appear for low-income applicants

“This is hitting our students in such a more exacerbated way than it’s hitting white, higher-income students,” said Claire Dennison, chief program officer of uAspire, which helps low-income and first-generation families navigate the college admissions and financial aid maze. “They have always faced roadblocks on the way to college, and they certainly have more of those now.”

There are already clear indications that fewer low-income, first-generation, Black and Hispanic students are applying to college for the coming year than in the past, while their wealthier classmates have been less affected by the restrictions imposed in response to Covid-19.

The Common App, a shared application accepted by more than 900 colleges and universities, reports an increase in the total number of students submitting it this year. But the number whose family incomes were low enough for them to have the fee waived fell by 2 percent and the number whose own parents never went to or finished college, by 3 percent.

While there’s been a nationwide decline of more than 12 percent in the number of students filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, the form required to receive financial aid for college, the drop has been much bigger at high schools where most of the students are low income (16 percent) and at schools with large proportions of Black or Hispanic students (down 18 percent) than at higher-income high schools and those with low Black and Hispanic enrollment, according to the National College Attainment Network.

Read more from The Hechinger Report.

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