More than half of Hispanic parents and 43 percent of Hispanic young adults could not name a single source of financial aid for college, according to a survey commissioned this year by the Sallie Mae Fund.
In a special effort to bridge that knowledge gap, the SLM Corp.—the Reston, Va., lender commonly known as Sallie Mae—started a national tour this month that aims to give Hispanic students and their families better access to financial-aid information.
“On the Road: The Paying for College Tour” was launched Sept. 8 in Los Angeles and will end in November in Miami, with stops in Phoenix, Houston, Chicago, and 17 other cities along the way.
“Many Latino students are not going to college because they simply aren’t aware that financial aid is available,” said Hugh Rosen, a Sallie Mae spokesman.
When more information is available to Hispanic families, teenagers from those families are more likely to attend college, the 2004 Sallie Mae survey revealed.
But for most Hispanic parents, simply receiving the information is not enough. The survey found that most Hispanic parents prefer to receive information face to face rather than through the Internet or printed material.
To address that more personal need, the tour offers 90-minute workshops conducted face to face and in Spanish that cover issues related to college costs.
The tour is also offering a random drawing for a $1,000 college scholarship.
Some of the misconceptions Hispanic parents tend to have, experts said, include issues of college eligibility based on citizenship status, the nature of the types of financial aid available, and the long-term benefits of a college degree.
“Part of the reality of Latino life is that … in their home countries, they don’t have the same types of financial assistance [for college],” said Harry Pachon, the president of the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute, a Hispanic advocacy and research organization based at the University of Southern California.