Update: What the Federal Student Loan Servicing Shake-Up Means for Borrowers

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In 2010, the federal government eliminated the bank-based student loan program (formerly the Federal Family Education Loan Program, or FFELP) in favor of originating loans directly from the Department of Education). The move saved the federal government more than $10 billion in payments to banks—funding that has since been used to increase student aid. While the department serves as the loan originator, the role of servicing student loans was left to external entities.

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Is a Financial Aid Refund Check Really ‘Extra’ Money?

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You completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and submitted all the needed paperwork.

Now you are enrolled in school and your friends are talking about getting a refund check. An email sent from your college says the funds will be available soon. Spring break is coming up and some of your friends are talking about going to the beach. Then you get another email from the campus housing office. They are asking you to save a few hundred dollars for the housing deposit for the upcoming fall semester.

Now you are curious. Is a refund going to be in your bank account? You may be wondering: “Is this extra money for me to spend?”

Let’s review how this works.

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Equity and AP

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Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from a Washington Monthly article examining AP courses and college racial inequities.

By Anne Kim

In a year when the coronavirus pandemic threw college admissions into chaos, 18-year-old Chloe Pressley of Prince William County, Virginia, succeeded beyond her wildest expectations. She got into multiple prestigious colleges, including Caltech, the University of Virginia, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The University of Richmond (VA) offered her a full ride. This fall, she’s headed to Yale.

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A Year Like No Other: Test-Free at the UC

By Gary Clark

Editor’s note: In August 2020, NACAC released a report urging colleges and universities to examine their policies and practices concerning standardized tests and their potential impact on equity and access. This column is the fifth in a series of articles reflecting on the report’s recommendations and offering insight into the current state of standardized admission testing.

I’m not sure I ever thought I’d see that day at the University of California (UC) or  the University of California—Los Angeles (UCLA), but here we are. On the heels of an admission cycle that mirrored the uncertainty and turmoil of the world around us, I’m being intentional about taking time to reflect on the year and lessons learned.

While the conversations regarding the continued use of standardized testing in UC admission began long before COVID, its onset certainly impacted the decision around test-optional versus test-free. Challenges regarding access to exams and accommodations needed by students were primary in discussions among our staff and faculty and, ultimately, the courts in California settled any lingering uncertainty. Each of the nine UC campuses moved to a test-free admission process and will continue this approach through the fall 2024 admission cycle.

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The Demise of the SAT Subject Tests and Essay: An International Perspective

By: Anne Richardson and Chemeli Kipkorir

Editor’s note: In August 2020, NACAC released a report urging colleges and universities to examine their policies and practices concerning standardized tests and their potential impact on equity and access. This column is the fourth in a series of articles reflecting on the report’s recommendations and offering insight into the current state of standardized admission testing.

Outside the US, submitting a transcript of classroom achievement is seldom required when applying to universities, which makes testing all the more important in the admission process. While the demise of SAT Subject Tests was welcomed and applauded, international counselors encountered some anxiety and questions from students and parents alike about the potential need to take additional exams such as TOEFL, IELTS, and Advanced Placement tests, especially if applying to non-US universities. This was especially true in regions where students routinely work with agents, and where test prep is an aggressive and big business.

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Supporting the 1 in 5 College Students Raising Children

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Did you know that one in five college students in the United States is a parent? They number nearly 4 million undergraduate students, yet few colleges and universities know how many parents they have on campus, or how these students are faring. Student-parents are highly motivated to attain a degree to provide a better life for themselves and their children, but they face unique barriers in accessing and completing their college education—student-parents are nearly twice as likely to leave college before graduating than students who are not parents.

As one of the first people that student-parents interact with on their educational journey, college admission counselors can play a key role in supporting the success of these students as they seek a higher degree.

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Rejoicings, Complications, and a Few Grey Hairs: Test-Optional Outside the US

By: Anne Richardson and Chemeli Kipkorir

Editor’s note: In August 2020, NACAC released a report urging colleges and universities to examine their policies and practices concerning standardized tests and their potential impact on equity and access. This column is the third in a series of articles reflecting on the report’s recommendations and offering insight into the current state of standardized admission testing.

Much has been written about the sudden, COVID-propelled test-optional movement inside of the US, and the blessings and complications that this movement has wrought for students, counselors, and admission offices there. Outside of the US, this same move to test-optional—plus the end of SAT Subject Tests and the SAT essay—has provoked mixed reactions: celebrations for students who are US-bound, but also concerns about potentially narrower options for students studying in a US curriculum who wish to travel abroad for university.

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NACAC Podcast Network Brings Together the Best of the Best

NACAC is an association that is learning, changing, and growing at the same incredible pace as the field of college admission.

Over the past year, we’ve invested in new education content and technology platforms to help college counselors and admission professionals be successful. At the heart of our work is the belief that responding to our members’ needs and providing value is what will make the association and our profession strong.

With more than 25,000 members now relying on NACAC to optimize their practices, our ambitions around providing the best education and content have only gotten bigger. That’s why we’re excited to announce the launch of the NACAC Podcast Network, a new audio destination that is home to eight great shows representing a wide range of perspectives. Together, this collection covers the scope of college admission from the student, family, counselor, and college perspective.

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A Plea for Data: The Value of Informed Testing Decisions

By: Erick Hyde

Editor’s note: In August 2020, NACAC released a report urging colleges and universities to examine their policies and practices concerning standardized tests and their potential impact on equity and access. This column is the second in a series of articles reflecting on the report’s recommendations and offering insight into the current state of standardized admission testing.

At this time last year, “I don’t know” felt like a valid reply to the question of “to test or not to test” when guiding students through the college admission process. Granted, “I don’t know” left everyone feeling unfulfilled, but how could we “know” when each element of testing brought more questions than answers. Relying on some combination of experience, instinct, patience, and each other, we methodically felt our way through last year’s admission cycle and landed somewhere between survival and triumph. A year later, the world is thankfully in a different place, but both the testing question and the “I don’t know” reply remain.

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Unintended Consequences

By: Rafael Figueroa

Editor’s note: In August 2020, NACAC released a report urging colleges and universities to examine their policies and practices concerning standardized tests and their potential impact on equity and access. This column is the first in a series of articles reflecting on the report’s recommendations and offering insight into the current state of standardized admission testing.

The decision most colleges made to go test-optional last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic was the right one to get us through an unprecedented crisis. But such a fundamental shift in college admission left a great deal of uncertainty in the minds of students and counselors alike. As a test center, Albuquerque Academy, an independent day school in New Mexico, worked hard to offer the SAT and ACT as soon as we could safely do so.

But telling the story of how one remarkable and dedicated colleague was able to orchestrate our first testing date after the state shut down raises again the question voiced last year by the NACAC Task Force on Standardized Admission Testing for International and US Students in its report: What is the real cost of standardized testing, and who bears the burden?

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Daily updates on NACAC and the world of college admission counseling. For more information about NACAC, visit nacacnet.org.