I mentored several students who graduated this year. All really poor, all minority, etc.
Most not great students, though one was.
If the child gets free and/or reduced lunch at school, the counselors should be able to get her both SAT and ACT fee waivers as well as application fee waivers. Application fee waivers are not as straight forward to use as the standardized test fee waivers are. So, you or your friend may have to make phone calls etc to colleges of choice to get instructions on how to use them.
I used this fee waiver with several of the guys. FAQs for Application Fee Waiver Form
Here are some of the things I learned:
1. In the beginning, have a conversation with the student about money. Poor kids don't have it easy, even with the PELL and you need to stress that money matters. It is very important that this student not fall in love with any one school. One of the students we were helping was being "helped" by two other families in the neighborhood. They helped him by repeatedly taking him to their alma mater which was an out of state public. He loved it (of course, it was the only school he really visited) and applied and was accepted. Of course, he couldn't afford it. Fortunately, I forced him to apply to several state schools (he was eligible for HOPE) and he is attending one. But he is so disappointed.
2. Have a conversation about distance. As someone else posted, she may not really want to go far from home and the logistics of going far away may not work either. (which leads to...
3. How poor is poor? Another of my guys is going to a small college about 6 hours away on a football scholarship. The family has no car and no money. We paid for gas for a friend of his to drive him to orientation and we paid the housing deposit. Fortunately, there were no other upfront fees, but that isn't always the norm. Another student started school this summer and his mother has been surprised by all the fees.
4. FAFSA is pretty straight forward for people who have little income. The student, with help from an adult, can probably fill it out herself.
5. Is she here legally? Are her parents? If not, you need to research what Virginia's rules are on citizenship and in state tuition. In GA, she would be considered an out of state student and not even eligible to attend several of the higher ranked institutions. I am unclear how FAFSA works for the children who are citizens because they were born here but for parents who aren't. (Won't be relevant if all citizens of course)
6. Study for the SAT/ACT. Our public library actually has books that can be checked out and others have given you free online resources. I signed the kids up, because the fee waiver makes it a little complicated, but I wouldn't help them unless they studied.
Let me know if you need more info.