Survey Suggests Secondary and College Admission Counselors Would Benefit from More Financial Aid Training

Media Contact:
Shanda Ivory

Arlington, VA (Sept. 19, 2018) — Only a minority of high school counselors and early-career college admission professionals report being well-versed in several financial aid topics critical for advising students, but counselors working at schools where training was provided reported higher levels of knowledge on subjects related to paying for college, according to new research.

Those findings and more are highlighted in a new report from the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) and PwC’s Access Your Potential commitment, designed to help close the opportunity gap by teaching underserved students tech and money skills to equip them for a successful future. The one-page report, available here, identifies five major barriers faced by low-income and first-generation students seeking to finance a college education. It also includes information about how the business community can support efforts to overcome those challenges.

Findings highlighted in the one-pager are based on an extensive literature review, a series of focus groups, and three national surveys, conducted by NACAC in 2017, examining the role secondary school counselors and college admission professionals play in supporting student decision-making related to paying for college. Survey results are based on a sub-sample of 1,791 secondary school counselors, 624 admission counselors, and 308 chief enrollment officers.

Other noteworthy findings from the research include:

  • Even for the most fundamental financial aid topic—the application process for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)—only 68 percent of high school counselors and 34 percent of early-career admission counselors considered themselves to be well-versed.

  • Among secondary school counselors surveyed, 31 percent worked at schools that provided training related to financial aid. At schools where training was provided, counselors reported higher levels of knowledge on a variety of financial aid topics. Survey results indicate that admission counselors also benefit when their institutions provide formal training in financial aid, particularly if training is ongoing.

  • Formal college planning starts late: More than half of high school counselors (54 percent) reported that information about paying for college is not shared with students before 11th grade.

  • The majority of secondary school counselors reported that their high schools provided a variety of college planning services. However, the percentage of students who take advantage of these services is low.

Important Links

NACAC/PwC one-pager, Barriers to successfully financing a college education – and how to help overcome them:

Additional research:



The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), founded in 1937, is an organization of more than 15,000 professionals from around the world dedicated to serving students as they make choices about pursuing postsecondary education. NACAC is committed to maintaining high standards that foster ethical and social responsibility among those involved in the transition process, as outlined in the association's Code of Ethics and Professional Practices.

About PwC US

PwC US helps organizations and individuals create the value they’re looking for. As a member of the PwC network—which has firms in 157 countries with more than 208,000 people—PwC US is committed to delivering quality in assurance, tax, and advisory services. In 2017, PwC US launched Access Your Potential, a five-year, $320 million commitment to help close the opportunity gap by equipping young people from disadvantaged communities, who may otherwise be excluded from the workforce, with the financial, technology and career-selection skills they need to change the trajectory of their lives. For more information on the PwC US commitment, visit

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