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Lack of Information

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Thousands of Hispanics who have the qualifications to attend the best universities in the country are not doing so. And the social and educational gaps with the white population is widening.

Since 1995, according to the Georgetown study, 82% of white students have entered the top 468 colleges in the United States. By contrast, 72% of Hispanics and 68% of African-Americans have entered one of the 3,250 open-access colleges pursuing two and four-year degrees.

There are substantial differences between these two types of institutions. The more selective colleges invest between two and five times more resources per student. The higher level of investment is reflected in indicators such as graduation rates, and gives students adequate preparation to pursue professional and post-graduate studies.

The choice of university makes a major economic impact for the student. According to the study, those who graduate from the more selective institutions earn on average two million dollars more during their work life than other professionals. Hispanic students are not applying to elite universities, or are doing so in lower proportion than white students.

The choice of university makes a major economic impact for the student. According to the study, those who graduate from the more selective institutions earn on average two million dollars more during their work life than other professionals. Hispanic students are not applying to elite universities, or are doing so in lower proportion than white students.

According to a study conducted by Caroline Hoxby and Christopher Avery published in March by the Brookings Institution, the number of high-performing, low-income students who are applying to selective universities is very small.

The ratio between high-performance, low-income students and high-performance, high-income students applying to elite universities is 1 to 15. That's a big difference since according to the study the number of talented students among the rich is just double of that of talented, low-income students.

There are many reasons that could explain why the Hispanics and African-Americans with good academic standing do not apply to the best universities in the country. One of them, according to many analysts, is simply lack of information.

First of all, they don't receive adequate and timely information about setting a successful path towards college. According to Fernando Reimers, a Harvard professor and an advisor to this story, “This is one of the major hurdles to the Hispanics' access to higher education.”

“Even though information alone is not enough to guarantee access to a college, there is a substantial information gap regarding what to do to get to college and what to do when applying,” said Reimers.

FIVE TIPS from Fernando Reimers, professor at Harvard University, on being accepted by a selective university and receivng financial aid.

“Giving students and their families this information as soon as possible will help them make decisions to prepare the student, while in school, to have an adequate academic foundation and to be a competitive candidate for elite universities.”

Second, the lack of information regarding the cost of attendence. Many low-income families don't even consider the possibility of sending their children to an elite university. “I applied to Harvard almost as a joke,” says Lucerito Ortiz. “I never thought that someone like me could be admitted in a place like that.”

In reality, many of the most selective universities offer financial aid packages that can make attendance to these institutions even more affordable than attending a community college or a public university.