Financial Aid and the Digital Divide

CHEPA is the Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis at USC. Every few months, I check out the new issue of its newsletter, The Navigator. The Spring 2006 issue had an interesting piece on the digital divide that suggests a new opportunity for collaboration between academic libraries and student affairs.

A report on a forthcoming study of low-income, urban high school students that suggests that the ongoing digital divide can have a significant impact on student access to financial aid, i.e.: “students increasingly have access to financial aid information on school computers . . . [but] lack the practical knowledge needed to complete the application process . . . . Because of little to no training of college counseling staff and/or students at the high school site, many students engage in financial aid processes online without a clear understanding of how to be a proactive advocate for one’s own financial aid needs.”

Now, imagine: instruction librarian + financial aid office + diversity recruitment officer + Office of Civic Engagement = workshop provided at urban high schools (or at convention of high school guidance counselors) aimed at making high school counseling staff and first-generation college students more information literate about the financial aid process.

There’s also a little piece on new research on Video Games and Student Learning – another hot topic on the conference circuit this year!

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