TOP STORY: Abigail Selden is trying to make college prep easier (but some people don't like that idea)


Posted by on 30 November 2017

One of the best parts about writing this blog is we get to tell you guys about the most interesting people in the world of college prep — people who are really trying to make a difference.  And this week we've found someone who definitely fits that mold. Her name is Abigail Selden, and she built an app that you probably haven't heard of, called College Abacus. And in doing so, Abigail has landed herself in the middle of a controversy.

As @ronlieber wrote in the NY Times last week:

If you’re a shoestring start-up trying to get noticed in an enormous industry, there’s nothing that helps more than having big players try to ban you. But from financial services to airlines, the pattern repeats itself again and again, as the lumbering giants seek to destroy rather than cooperate. And so it goes with higher education, its trillion-dollar student debt tally and a tiny little outfit called College Abacus. It has a web tool that allows people applying for college to enter financial and other personal data. Then it spits out three estimates of the price they might actually pay once colleges offer them scholarships. It does so by harnessing calculators on individual colleges’ websites. And it turns out that many of those colleges don’t like the idea very much.

You'll have to read the full article to find out why some colleges don't like it, and see how this whole drama is unfolding.

We took a look at the app for ourselves. Our opinion? It's fantastic. We'll do a more detailed review later, but here's the summary:

College Abacus brings much-needed transparency into the murky world of college costs. The app is free, and will help applicants understand the true cost of going to college. It's good for students and families, and — so long as College Abacus keeps its promise to remain a free app — we'll support and recommend it.

So if you're planning on going to college, go check out College Abacus.  You can also watch the video below, where college prep guru Lynn O'Shaughnessy (@CollegeBlogs) talks with Abigail about her app, and what it means for students around the country.

Let us know in the comments section below. Do you think College Abacus is a good idea?


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