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Federal agencies must do more to coordinate public benefits so that low-income students can access and complete college, the secretaries of education, agriculture, housing, labor and Treasury said in a joint letter released this month. The letter collected previously released guidance from those agencies concerning benefits such as food stamps, Section 8 housing and student financial aid.

Even when low-income students do receive aid, they are more likely to have remaining financial needs unmet. Part of the solution, the letter argues, is ensuring the millions already enrolled in federal benefit programs are provided information about other resources to pay for college or other work force training. The guidance in the letter is aimed at state work force agencies, welfare administrators, student financial aid professionals and other key contacts at the state and local levels responsible for administering federal benefits programs.

Education Secretary John B. King Jr. cited the letter in a meeting with reporters last week as one of a number of steps the Obama administration has taken to address the issues related to access to education. The department is incorporating the guidance on benefits into its outreach to colleges and universities.