Submitted by Justin Draeger, Associate
Director of Communications, NASFAA
A Real Solution to College Access: The Kids2College Program
Washington, D.C. (June 2008) – When we talk about early
awareness and outreach efforts in higher education we are usually talking
about reaching students in the sophomore or junior years of high school.
But a recent report from the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP)
found that the middle school years may be the most crucial stage to
reach families, when students and parents begin making choices that
will affect whether they attend college.
The IHEP report, “From
Aspirations to Action: The Role of Middle School Parents in Making the
Dream of College a Reality,” summarizes findings from a 2007
study about middle school students' and parents’ perceptions about
college. The study found that most middle school parents expect their
students to attend college, but most families lack any resources needed
to begin preparing financially to meet that expectation. More than two-thirds
of middle school parents have not taken any steps to begin saving for
their children’s education and only 8 percent said that their
college savings included a 529 savings plan. Further, 94 percent of
middle school parents surveyed believe their child will receive financial
aid when they go to college, but only 11 percent had done any actual
research on the matter.
How do we bridge the gaps for families between their expectations and
reality at such a young age? A new early intervention program –
Kids2Collge – may have an answer.
Kids2College (K2C) is a program that exposes low-income and minority
sixth-grade (middle school) students to the value and accessibility
of a higher education. It is based on partnerships among local community
groups, schools/districts, and colleges and universities that reach
out to local sixth graders to take them through the six-session program.
The program uses hands-on activities to inform these students about
various careers while also helping them prepare academically and financially
for college. The program culminates with the students and their parents
visiting a local college campus.
The national curriculum was recently updated and developed by the
Sallie Mae Fund in partnership with the National Council for Community
and Education Partnerships (NCCEP). The curriculum includes student
handbooks and a companion teacher’s guide to help facilitators
master the program. Related take-home materials are also used to encourage
a student’s entire family to get involved in the process.
The program is divided into six sessions that cover the following
- Education Options (Lesson One): Discusses the
types of postsecondary institutions that exist and the hierarchy of
college degrees available to students along with the associated economic
benefits of those degrees.
- Career Exploration (Lesson Two): Helps students
describe where they see themselves in 15-18 years and requires them
to complete a career interest inventory with a list of compatible
careers that meet their interests and talents.
- I’m Going to College (Lesson Three): Helps
students to identify all the factors that colleges consider when evaluating
applicants, specific classes to take in high school to be college
ready and eligible, and their individual learning styles.
- Paying for College (Lesson Four): Explains ways
that financial aid can help students pay for college. This lesson
also identifies basic financial aid terms and opportunities for academic
support and enrichment.
- Connecting College and Careers (Lesson Five):
Gives students hands-on knowledge of their career interests by connecting
them with working professionals from the field.
- Career Day (Lesson Six): Allows students to demonstrate
what they have learned through a career day presentation. Also helps
them plan for their upcoming college visit.
The K2C curriculum and resources are available free of charge to financial
aid administrators on college campuses, school districts, middle and
junior high schools, and community groups that have the capacity to
implement the program on local levels.
Measurable Success Rates
The IHEP report examined middle school students’ attitudes toward
college both before and after going through the K2C program. After going
through the six-session course, students:
- Had a greater awareness of the availability of financial aid for
college. The program had a particularly strong impact on Hispanic
students and students whose parents did not attend college, with the
percentage of these students who agreed that their families have access
to information about financial aid increasing by 45 percent and 53
- Were 24 percent more likely to say that they could imagine themselves
in college. For Hispanic students and students whose parents did not
attend college, the number saying they could imagine themselves in
college increased by 50 percent.
- Were 33 percent more likely to say that they had spoken with teachers
about going to college.
- Displayed increased awareness of the need to take college preparatory
classes early in high school and to take more years of English and
“This program has a proven track record of helping students,”
said Marcia Weston, NASFAA director of college access program, who oversees
NASFAA’s role in the College Goal Sunday early awareness program.
“Often financial aid administrators only witness what happens
when a family has underprepared for their college education. This program
allows us to help them get started early, which increases our chances
So far the K2C program has served more than 70,000 students nationally,
but more can be done. The Sallie Mae Fund has invited schools, colleges,
and community groups to become more involved in bringing the program
to more students.
Financial aid administrators or other college administrators are needed
to perform the following tasks:
- Provide campus liaison to help plan the K2C sessions and provide
expertise at a minimum of one in-classroom session
- Organize and host the day on campus, including providing a meal
and customizing the experience for the students
- Provide feedback to the program coordinator about the success of
Since the program requires coordination at several levels, it may
make sense for a state association’s college access or college
outreach committee to spearhead the project in cooperation with local
school districts where at least 50 percent of the students qualify for
a free or reduced lunch.
For more information on the Kids2College program and how you can participate,
The National Association of Student Financial
(NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents more
than 14,000 financial aid professionals at nearly 3,000 colleges, universities,
and career schools across the country. Each year, financial aid professionals
help more than 16 million students receive funding for postsecondary
education. Based in Washington, D.C., NASFAA is the only national association
with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis,
and training for financial aid administrators. In addition to its member
Web site at www.NASFAA.org
, the Association offers a Web site with financial aid information for
parents and students at www.StudentAid.org.