The Most Crucial Moments in a Child's Educational Life

The Atlantic

December 6, 2013


SAN ANTONIO—Early last month, Maricella Perez thought she had all the pieces together. Her essays were done. The letters of recommendation, requested and complete. Her 99.7 grade-point average, and her track record of coordinating student blood drives, raising money for cancer research, and serving as Theodore Roosevelt High School's student-council president were described in detail. Perez's application for the University of Texas (Austin), her dream school, was done. One Saturday afternoon, however, sitting on her living-room couch, the pieces of her application spread across the coffee table, the 18-year-old spotted a problem: The application cost $90 to file. "Honestly, I filled out the whole thing…and then kind of sat on it," she says. "I thought my mom was going to kill me when it came time to put $90 in the mail." In Perez's family, money is tight and experience with college applications is limited.
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