College Board Opening Up Greater Access to Low-Income Students

Unlike many of her peers, my friend’s daughter applied to exactly one college. She wanted to study under a particular professor and had no desire to go anywhere else. Fortunately, she was accepted.

An Unlimited Number of Colleges

But now the College Board is opening up greater access for low-income students. Those who take the SAT using a fee waiver (ask about SAT fee waivers at your child’s high school) will soon be able to send their scores to an unlimited number of colleges.

The policy has been extended to the College Board’s CSS Profile, a financial aid form similar to the FAFSA, but unlike the FAFSA is not free.

“The College Board is fundamentally a mission-driven organization trying to propel students and in particular low-income students into higher education,” Jane Dapkus, vice president, College Readiness Assessments at the College Board, told me.

Research shows that low-income students apply to fewer colleges than their higher-income peers. Dapkus says they also undermatch for colleges—that is, they apply to less-selective schools when their academic record suggests they should reach higher.

Which makes sense when money is tight—apply to schools you know you’ll get into, not to reach schools if it’ll cost you and you might not get in. Now students will be able to apply to more selective schools without a cost penalty.

“We want to remove as many barriers as possible to applying to and enrolling in colleges of their choice,” says Dapkus. “And that means also maximizing the options students can choose from when thinking about the colleges they want to apply to.”

Eliminating the Cost Barrier

The College Board’s research shows that eliminating the cost barrier does indeed result in students sending out more scores—”by 10 percentage points than they had prior,” Dapkus says. “That reinforced our decision to allow students to send an unlimited number of SAT and SAT test scores.”

Extending that policy change to the CSS Profile, which is used by a lot of private colleges, may be even more meaningful. The fee to fill out the CSS Profile is nominal, but if you’re applying to several schools that require it the cost adds up.

The College Board already provides four college application fee waivers to any student who took the SAT using a fee waiver. Now, for colleges that use the Common Application, students can receive an unlimited number of college application fee waivers if they are low income.

About one in five students taking the SAT uses a fee waiver. The College Board also offers fee reductions to low-income students taking Advanced Placement courses.

“SAT registration opens in mid-April, and that’s when the functionality that allows students to send an unlimited number of scores will go live,” Dapkus says. The College Board will also send an email to eligible low-income students, alerting them to the new policy.

For more, visit the College Board.