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Money on the Table: State Initiatives to Improve Financial Aid Participation

Heath Prince

Increasing the numbers of students who participate in financial aid programs has become a critical issue for many state systems. Reasons for the low rates of financial aid uptake vary, from lack of awareness among students to the many and complex types of aid available to inadequate capacity at the institutional level for conducting outreach to students and processing financial aid applications. This brief highlights the activities of four states to address this issue, which is central to Achieving the Dream, a national initiative to help more community college students succeed, particularly low-income students and students of color. It draws on experiences in three states that later joined Achieving the Dream—Connecticut, North Carolina, and Texas—as well as California.