- Associated Press - Thursday, October 1, 2015

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - The University of Missouri has joined a nationwide coalition dedicated to making it easier for high school students to apply for college.

The Columbia Missourian (http://bit.ly/1KU8MEA ) reports that the 80 college Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success aims to accomplish this goal by creating a website that allows students to create a digital portfolio of their school careers, look at financial aid opportunities and submit applications.

Coalition officials say the portfolio side of the site will go live January 2016, and the application side in fall 2016. Students starting classes in fall 2017 will be able to apply using the new site. Chuck May, University of Missouri director of admissions, said the site will be free for all students. However application fees will still apply.

“We want to give (students) an additional level of support while they’re going through the application process,” May said.

May hopes the tools will encourage students to prepare to apply earlier. He said some students don’t realize just how early they should begin preparing.

“The college admission process today can be stress-inducing and we know it can present barriers for all students, especially for those who are the first in their family to attend college,” Zina Evans, vice president for enrollment management at the University of Florida, said in a coalition release.

Leigh Spence, director of counseling at Battle High School in Columbia, said says hopes an easier application process also will increase the number of schools to which students apply.

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