The Sallie Mae Fund Launches Fourth Nationwide Paying for College Bus Tour

The Sallie Mae Fund Launches Fourth Nationwide Paying for College Bus Tour

65-City Tour to Increase Access to Higher Education, Address College Awareness Gap for Low-Income and Minority Families


Des Moines, IA–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–September 7, 2007–The likelihood that a 9th grader in the United States will enroll in college four years later is less than 40 percent, with students from low-income families and African-American and Hispanic students even less likely to do so. The Sallie Mae Fund’s Paying for College Bus Tour is working to reverse this trend as it meets with thousands of parents and students in more than 65 cities around the country this school year through its Paying for College Bus Tour. Launched this weekend in Des Moines, the tour is in its fourth year of educating families, particularly Latino and African-American students and parents, about their options for attending, paying and saving for higher education.

Since 2004, The Sallie Mae Fund’s coast-to-coast campaign has reached more than 96,000 students and parents through more than 500 Paying for College workshops conducted in English and Spanish. The tour’s message of attainability is being heard: 82 percent of families who participated in a Paying for College workshop said they believed they would be able to pay for college, as opposed to 27 percent prior to attending the event.

Working in partnership with the Des Moines Public Schools and GEAR UP, The Sallie Mae Fund will meet with more than 1,000 eighth graders and high school students at workshops on Sept. 10 and 11 at Meredith Middle School, Callanan Middle School, Weeks Middle School, McCombs Middle School, and Harding Middle School. In addition, a free workshop for students and parents will be held at East High School, on Monday, Sept. 10, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. A light dinner will be served at 6:00 p.m.

The Paying for College Bus Tour is rooted in research from The Sallie Mae Fund, a charitable organization sponsored by Sallie Mae, which found that lack of information about financial aid for college was a key factor preventing many promising students from seeking higher education. Nearly three out of four young adults would have been more likely to attend college if they had been aware of their financial aid options. In addition, studies found that more than 90 percent of Latino and African American parents believe college education is an important part of success in life, but 51 percent of Latino parents and 45 percent of African American parents could not name a single source of financial aid.

“Information shapes a family’s decision about college,” said Kathleen deLaski, president of The Sallie Mae Fund. “Too many people are surprised to learn that federal financial aid, state aid and scholarships are available to help cover the cost of college. We want to bridge the information gap for any student who dreams of a high education.”

The Paying for College Bus Tour offers students and parents access to free, hands-on resources and information on scholarships, grants and federal financial aid in both English and Spanish through workshops in the community. Students can also climb on board the tour’s high-tech bus to search for scholarships or begin the federal financial aid application process at one of four Web-enabled workstations.

Workshops are presented by national spokesperson, Arnold Hernandez, who grew up in a migrant farm worker family picking apples and onions in the fields of Texas and Idaho. Determined to pursue a higher education, Arnold graduated from St. Edward’s University in Texas, and went on to work as a TV journalist in Austin. Now as The Sallie May Fund’s Paying for College Bus Tour national spokesperson, he says, “In high school, I was told college was not for me. My message to students and parents around the country is that college is possible for everyone.”

The Sallie Mae Fund’s Paying for College Bus Tour has already given away over $330,000 in scholarships, and at each workshop this school year, students will have the opportunity to win a scholarship of up to $1,000.

In addition to the workshops and scholarships that will be provided through the tour, The Sallie Mae Fund is deeply invested in college access initiatives across the state of Iowa. Since 2001, The Sallie Mae Fund has awarded $118,000 in grants to charitable organizations in Iowa. In that same time period, students attending Iowa colleges and universities received more than $64,000 in scholarships through Sallie Mae Fund programs. In addition, Sallie Mae’s employees led efforts to bring an additional $323,000 to the state through The Fund’s Matching Gifts and Dollars for Doers programs.

Through the Paying for College Bus Tour, The Sallie Mae Fund is responding to research indicating that minorities are lagging behind in higher education. According to the U.S. Department of Education, of every 100 kindergarteners who are African American, 87 will graduate from high school, but only 18 will achieve a bachelor’s degree by age 29. College graduation rates for Hispanics are even lower. For every 100 Hispanic children entering kindergarten, 63 will graduate from high school and only 11 will obtain a bachelor’s degree by the age of 29.

Graduating from college pays lifelong dividends: according to the U.S. Census Bureau, college graduates on average earn over $1 million more during their lifetimes than high school dropouts.

To conduct the tour, the Sallie Mae Fund works with local and national groups that can assist in reaching students and families most in need of financial aid information. National education partners include the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, National Association for College Admission Counseling, National Council for Community and Education Partnerships, and Project GRAD USA.

For a list of The Sallie Mae Fund Paying for College Bus Tour stops and additional details, visit

Editor’s Note: Tour spokesperson Arnold Hernandez is available for media interviews. The Sallie Mae Fund Paying for College Bus Tour media kit, available at, offers photos of the tour bus, statistics on education, and video clips of past tours,

The Sallie Mae Fund, a charitable organization sponsored by Sallie Mae, achieves its mission—to increase access to a postsecondary education for America’s students—by supporting programs and initiatives that help open doors to higher education, prepare families for their investment, and bridge the gap when no one else can. For more information visit

NOTE TO EDITORS: A high-resolution image is available at:

The Sallie Mae Fund Launches Fourth Nationwide Paying for College Bus Tour