Nov 19, 2004 08:00 ET

20,000 Reached in Nationwide Bus Tour to Increase Number of Latinos Attending College

The Sallie Mae Fund Hosts Last of 125 Workshops, Community Events Nov. 19-20 in Miami

RESTON, Va., Nov. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- The Sallie Mae Fund's 23-city, coast- to-coast bus tour, On the Road: The Paying for College Tour, concludes this weekend in Miami with a series of events and workshops for Latino families.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20041119/DCF002 )

The nationwide bus tour has helped educate more than 20,000 Latino students and parents on planning and paying for college through more than 125 workshops and community events. In Florida alone, nearly 2,000 people are expected to participate. Workshops attended by 150 students will be held this morning at Coral Park Senior High School in Miami.
"The Sallie Mae Fund has shown that knowledge of financial aid can mean the difference between attending college or writing it off as hopelessly out of reach," said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). "I challenge Hispanic families to capitalize on this financial aid because, as college graduates, Hispanics can play an increasingly important role in our country's future."
The Sallie Mae Fund also will host workshops at ASPIRA North tonight, and Maria Celeste Arraras, popular Telemundo news personality, will join the tour tomorrow afternoon at the Miami Beach Convention Center (details at http://www.salliemaefund.org/). The Fund also sponsored an "Idea Lab" this week to provide educators with a forum to discuss higher education access issues affecting minorities.
The bus tour, which began in Los Angeles on Sept. 8, was launched in the wake of the largest-ever survey of Latino perspectives on financial aid, which was commissioned by The Sallie Mae Fund and conducted by the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute at the University of Southern California. The survey results, announced in March, revealed that awareness of financial aid options is critically lacking in the Latino community, and that this lack of awareness is hampering college attendance. Half of all Latino young adults and more than half of all Latino parents did not receive any financial aid information in the K-12 years.
The survey showed that Latino families prefer to learn about financial aid from in-person meetings or workshops, provided by guidance counselors or financial aid experts. Financial aid experts, and more than 60 student- serving organizations, and Latino community-based groups nationwide partnered with The Sallie Mae Fund to bring financial aid information to Latino families how and where they want to receive it. The free Spanish-language workshops (with simultaneous English translation) are designed to help answer questions and provide information to Latino students and their parents. A college scholarship was awarded at every workshop, with a total of $60,000 in scholarships awarded to date.
"We knew from our research that thousands of Latino families were not receiving financial aid information in their desired format," said Susan Corsini, vice chair of The Sallie Mae Fund. "These families embraced The Fund's workshops and events -- a clear sign that this type of initiative can be tremendously powerful in helping more Latinos prepare for college."
"Many Latino young adults believe they can't go to college because college has not been part of their family history. If we can communicate a message of opportunity, college will become a source of pride for so many more Latino families," said Ruth Gammon-Stennett, associate director, ASPIRA North Miami.
Latinos represent the largest and most rapidly growing ethnic minority group in the state, making up nearly 17 percent of the Florida population. By the year 2014, more than one out of every three public high school graduates in Florida will be of Latino descent, according to projections by the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education.
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 http://www.salliemaefund.org/.

Photo: NewsCom: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20041119/DCF002
AP PhotoExpress Network: PRN2
PRN Photo Desk, photodesk@prnewswire.com
Source: The Sallie Mae Fund

CONTACT: Hugh Rosen of The Sallie Mae Fund, +1-703-984-6227, or
hugh.rosen@thesalliemaefund.org

Web site: http://www.thesalliemaefund.org/

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