Latest Report on Fixing Financial Aid Focuses on Minority Students

April 01, 2013

A report released on Monday discusses the financial hurdles African-American students and their families face in pursuing a college education. The National Urban League, a civil-rights organization that works to economically empower minority groups, published "Education Transforms Lives: Postsecondary Affordability Survey and Focus Groups." The report is the last in the initial phase of the Reimagining Aid Design and Delivery project, sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The 17-page report features details from more than 600 responses to an informal online survey. Participants in the survey were mostly African-American, female, and ages 18 to 40, with educational backgrounds ranging from high school to graduate degrees. Topics for the survey's 45 questions included the quality of respondents' high schools, where they had received information about college, and how they had paid for their postsecondary education.

The report also includes discussion notes from seven focus groups conducted around the country, documenting people's complaints about the financial-aid system in their own words.

Among its conclusions, the Urban League says the federal government should provide mandatory financial-aid-literacy classes for students and families, and should require institutions to be more open about their costs. The group also suggests the creation of "postsecondary affordability simulations workshops" and recommends, without providing any details, that the federal government change how it configures interest rates for student loans.