NAACP Says Right Tools Can Help More Minorities Get into College

COLUMBIA, S.C.

Better education about financial aid and scholarships and improved SAT
preparation will help more minority and low-income students in South
Carolina attend college, officials with the state NAACP said.

Minority parents and students are often intimidated by the cost of
college tuition and the admissions process, state NAACP President
Lonnie Randolph said last weekend.

At least 60 parents and students gathered in Columbia for a one-day
clinic on SAT Test Strategies, College Admissions and Financial Aid.
The event was hosted by the NAACP, The Princeton Review Foundation and
The Sallie Mae Fund as a part of the 9th Annual NAACP National Day of
College Preparation.

There were 19 cities around the country selected to hold clinics.

“What we are doing here today is giving these young people confidence
and letting them know that ‘as a man or woman thinks so is he or
she,”’ Randolph said,

Randolph says some young people improve SAT scores as much as 200 points after taking the one-day class.

Groups like the Columbia Youth Council are attempting to boost the
scores for minority students by providing additional test preparation
workshops throughout the year.

“Some of them are very intimidated by it, but we try to tell them that
there’s nothing to the test if you prepare for it,” said Columbia
Youth Council adviser Virginia Peterkin, who lead one of the SAT
workshops at the clinic. “Events like this one do make a difference in
scores and in attitudes.”

University of South Carolina President Andrew Sorensen hopes the event
will encourage more minorities to enroll at his school. Currently, one
in eight students at the university are African-American.

“South Carolina population is diverse by race, by social class, by
gender, by religion,” Sorensen said, “And it’s important to me that
the University of South Carolina reflect that diversity.”

Sorensen said 97 percent of in-state incoming freshman at the University of South Carolina receive financial aid.

Financial aid advisers from the university talked with parents about ways of making tuition more affordable.

Both Clemson University and the University of South Carolina raised
tuition by more than 12 percent this year. Annual in-state tuition is
$6,914 at South Carolina and $8,816 at Clemson.

For parents like Betty Heath, who has one child attending college and
another expected to attend next fall, information on financial aid and
scholarships is key.

“It can be overwhelming. There are a lot of scholarships out there and
so you apply and just hope,” said Heath. “It was very beneficial to
hear all that information on Web sites and applying for scholarships.

The Sallie Mae Fund currently has a 10-month, 78-city bus tour
underway. It also sponsors “Paying For College” workshops year-round.
The state NAACP has planned at least two more college preparation
workshops for this year.

“We are here trying to make a possibility for those who think things are impossible,” Randolph said.

— Associated Press



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