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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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