On the Road: The Paying for College Bus Tour
Studies by The Sallie Mae Fund and others have indicated that there is an "information divide" on knowledge of financial aid among low-income and minority populations. While knowledge about financial aid is a key predictor of whether a student is likely to attend college, those who have the greatest need for information actually have the least access to it. Nearly three out of four young adults indicated that they would have been more likely to attend college if they had been aware of their financial aid options.
The Paying for College Bus Tour was The Sallie Mae Fund's coast-to-coast campaign designed to unleash college opportunities for thousands of low-income and minority families. The Tour united community-based organizations, financial aid professionals, and educational institutions to encourage young people in underserved communities to set their sights on college. Along the Tour, The Sallie Mae Fund provided free workshops on planning and paying for college for both students and parents in English and Spanish.
Workshops were presented by a dynamic spokesperson who overcame many obstacles to graduate from college. Families were invited aboard the Paying for College bus, a mobile college counseling center, to search for scholarships or to begin the federal financial aid application process. Scholarships of $250 to $1,000 were awarded to one participant at each workshop.
The Tour's message of college attainability was heard: 80 percent of families who participated in a workshop said they believed they would be able to pay for college, as opposed to 30 percent before attending the event.
From 2004 to 2008, the Bus Tour conducted more than 800 workshops in 33 states, reached more than 150,000 people, and awarded nearly $450,000 in scholarships. In communities across the country, we identified on-the-ground resources to continue assisting families with the planning and paying for college process.