YES Prep Public Schools aims to increase the number of students from underserved communities who graduate from college prepared to lead. This mission cannot be accomplished without addressing one key component of college access: financial affordability. YES Prep partners with uAspire to coach students and families through the financial aspects of their college decisions. As part of its partnership, uAspire offered professional development sessions to YES Prep’s College Counselors on engaging families in college-affordability discussions and on calculating the Expected Family Contribution, or EFC during Content Day.
“College is getting more and more expensive for students and families,” YES Prep Senior Director of College Initiatives, Chad Spurgeon, said. “Having resources as strong as uAspire’s means YES Prep can provide better counseling to students and families, increasing the chance they’ll make affordable choices about where they go to college and increasing the likelihood they’ll persist through college.”
In addition to providing information on financial aid processes, the trainings also offer counselors the opportunity to learn from one another and to share approaches to various roadblocks– from parents who are uncomfortable providing tax information to discussions of immigration status.
Elizabeth Kelati, College Counselor at YES Prep Southeast, praised the resources available to uAspire’s partners, including the online tool for teachers and counselors to submit questions to uAspire’s experts, and the Financial Aid Award Letter Analyzer, a program that helps students and families understand the actual cost of attending the postsecondary institution. “I use this with every student,” she said. “It breaks down initial payments and overall payments, which is something students have a hard time visualizing.”
Aki Peterson, uAspire’s Senior Manager of Training and Technical Assistance, stressed the importance of coaching families through the decision. “The student is making one of the largest financial decisions of their lives,” she said. “College access is so critical, and finances are the biggest barrier to attending college.”