ATLANTA, June 13, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- College Abacus, a free online tool that helps families easily comparison shop for affordable college options, today announced the release of two first-of-their-kind Spanish-language college search tools: College Ábaco, and its Pell Grant-specific partner tool, Pell Ábaco. These free online resources make it possible for bilingual Hispanic families to navigate the often complex financial aid process in Spanish, allowing them to calculate and compare their personalized financial aid estimates across 5,600 U.S. colleges in a fully translated format. Abigail Seldin, College Abacus co-founder and vice president of Innovation & Product Management at ECMC Group, unveiled the tools today at the sixth annual Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America meeting in Atlanta, GA.
Of the roughly 17.9 million Hispanic children in the U.S., many come from Spanish speaking families. In fact, the Pew Research Center reports that nearly three-in-four Hispanics over the age of five speak Spanish at home. College Ábaco and Pell Ábaco were designed to address the language barriers many bilingual families face when evaluating their college options, as well as the tuition "sticker shock" many first generation and minority students experience when considering higher education. In one recent survey of young Latinos who chose not to attend college, nearly three-quarters attributed their decision to financial concerns.
"Researching and understanding your college financial aid options is daunting for most people, but it can be especially overwhelming for first generation students and parents who are non-native English speakers," said Seldin. "By launching College Ábaco and Pell Ábaco, we're making it easier for the tens of millions of Spanish-speaking households in America to not only identify the best schools for their budgets, but navigate the college search process as a family unit."
The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 required all U.S. colleges to publish net price calculators on their websites – tools that allow families to calculate personalized tuition estimates after grants and scholarships are subtracted from the total. By allowing families to access the net price calculators of 5,600 U.S. colleges in one place, College Ábaco serves as a 'Kayak.com' for college costs, eliminating the need to click through multiple websites and continuously re-enter financial information while also translating that information into Spanish. For low-income Hispanic students likely to be eligible for federal Pell Grants, Pell Ábaco streamlines the process even further by asking just one financial question: "Are you eligible for free or reduced lunch?" A recent report by the Education Trust shows roughly half of Latino undergraduates use Pell Grants to pay for college.
"From meeting with thousands of Hispanic students and their families this year through ACT's bilingual Parent Academies across the country, I've seen firsthand how urgently we need tools like College Abaco and Pell Abaco to educate them on college affordability," said Juan Garcia, Senior Director for the Advancement of Underserved Learners at ACT. "These resources have the potential to be game changers in helping these families understand true college costs beyond sticker price, and make informed decisions about financing their future educational plans to ensure their upward mobility."
College Ábaco and Pell Ábaco are the first consumer tools to launch with fully integrated Spanish language data from the Obama Administration's College Scorecard, an initiative that Seldin and her team partnered with the White House and U.S. Department of Education on last fall. By pulling data from the College Scorecard API and translating it into Spanish, College Ábaco and Pell Ábaco package students' individualized tuition estimates with school-specific data on a range of financial factors impacting college choice, such as average alumni earnings, percentage of students with federal loans and average monthly loan repayment rates.
After launching the tools at the 2016 CGI America meeting in Atlanta today, Seldin and her team will carry out the Commitment to Action by promoting awareness and adoption of College Ábaco and Pell Ábaco within the Hispanic community. In addition to ACT, Seldin announced support for the tools from partner organizations including the National College Access Network, Florida College Access Network, College Summit, ECMC Foundation and Latino U College Access.
About College Abacus
Hailed as one of CNN Money's "Best New Money Ideas" of 2014, College Abacus is a one-stop, secure search site that helps families easily calculate and compare their personalized tuition estimates across roughly 5,600 colleges. Using net price calculators built by U.S. colleges as mandated by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, the tool connects users with school net price calculators in real time. The projected cost of education generated on College Abacus mirrors the same net price estimates students would generate by visiting each school's website individually. College Abacus results also include data from the U.S. Department of Education's College Scorecard. Offered as a free resource by nonprofit education entity ECMC Group, College Abacus is operated out of the Washington, DC based ECMC Innovation Lab. Click here for more information on Pell Abacus.
About Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America
Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America brings together leaders from the business, philanthropic, nonprofit, and government sectors to develop solutions that encourage economic growth, support long-term competitiveness, and increase social mobility in the United States. CGI America's annual convening is designed to be a working meeting that promotes collaboration. Each CGI America participant makes a Commitment to Action: a new, specific, and measurable plan that supports increased economic growth and opportunity. To date, CGI America participants have made more than 500 commitments, which have improved the lives of nearly 2.4 million people.
ACT is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people achieve education and workplace success. Headquartered in Iowa City, Iowa, ACT is trusted as the nation's leader in college and career readiness, providing high-quality achievement assessments grounded in more than 50 years of research and experience. To increase participation and opportunity among underserved students, ACT provides free access to ACT Online Prep for students from low income families. ACT offers a uniquely integrated set of solutions that help people succeed from elementary school through career, providing insights that unlock potential. To learn more about ACT, go to www.act.org.
SOURCE College Abacus