Category Archives: Access

Share Advice For First-Gen Students

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What should first-generation college students know before they head to campus?

A new social media campaign organized by Better Make Room is encouraging college counselors and others to share their wisdom on Twitter.

Contribute your own tips by using #AdviceForFirstGen and #BetterMakeRoom in your tweets.

Tips already submitted include:

  • Find a mentor.
  • Don’t forget to renew your FAFSA every year.
  • When stressed, stop and smell the roses.

Continue reading Share Advice For First-Gen Students

Imagine Fund Supports Iowa Student Conference

Teens need good information as they approach the college application process, but they also need inspiration.

The latter factor is a key component of an Iowa youth leadership conference that encourages teens to include higher education in their postsecondary plans.

The day-long event — held last month at Mount Mercy University (IA) — was supported by a $900 grant from NACAC’s Imagine Fund. The conference is aimed at students who have traditionally been underserved by America’s colleges and universities.

Continue reading Imagine Fund Supports Iowa Student Conference

New Survey Measures Public Perceptions of Higher Ed

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A new national poll paints a troubling picture of how the public views college access.

In a survey of 1,600 US adults, more than half of all respondents disagreed with the notion that all Americans have a decent chance of getting into a good college.

The finding is part of a larger report released this morning by New America examining public perceptions and knowledge of higher education and economic mobility.

Continue reading New Survey Measures Public Perceptions of Higher Ed

Michelle Obama Celebrates College Signing Day in NYC

Getting into college is only half the battle, former First Lady Michelle Obama told a group of New York City students Friday.

The next challenge? Having the courage to ask for help.

“No one gets through college, or life, on their own,” Obama told the teens, who were gathered to celebrate College Signing Day. ” So when you hit those walls — and you will — don’t be surprised; don’t be shocked; don’t think it’s you; don’t think you’re not supposed to be there. Go get some help.”

More than 1,300 similar events — which honor college-bound students — were planned nationwide. The annual celebration, coordinated by Better Make Room, is aimed at increasing college access for low-income, minority, and first-generation students.

Continue reading Michelle Obama Celebrates College Signing Day in NYC

New Flexibilities for FAFSA Filers Affected by DRT Outage

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Institutions now have more options when it comes to verifying FAFSA information.

Last week, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that colleges and universities would be granted new flexibilities due to the extended outage of the IRS’s Data Retrieval Tool (DRT).

Continue reading New Flexibilities for FAFSA Filers Affected by DRT Outage

ICYMI: Check Out NACAC’s Facebook Live Q&A about College Signing Day

Get ready to celebrate!

Monday is College Decision Day — the deadline at many institutions for students to accept an offer of admission and make a tuition deposit.

And on Friday, schools and communities across the country will once again host College Signing Day events. The tradition was started in 2014 by former First Lady Michelle Obama and is being spearheaded this year by Civic Nation’s Better Make Room initiative.

“Some education past high school has to be the goal for every young person,” Eric Waldo, of Civic Nation, said Thursday during a Facebook Live Q&A at NACAC headquarters. “That was true when we were in the White House. That’s true now that we’re not in the White House.”

Continue reading ICYMI: Check Out NACAC’s Facebook Live Q&A about College Signing Day

Study: Having a Black Teacher Can Help Keep Black Kids in School

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Low-income black students who have at least one black teacher in elementary school are more likely to graduate from high school and consider attending college, according to a new working paper published by the Institute of Labor Economics.

Being assigned to a classroom led by a black teacher in in third, fourth, or fifth grade reduced a student’s probability of dropping out of school by 29 percent, the study found.

And the positive effects were even greater among low-income black boys, whose likelihood of dropping out fell by 39 percent.

Continue reading Study: Having a Black Teacher Can Help Keep Black Kids in School

Reminder: Beware Potential FAFSA Scams

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The Department of Education has always advised caution when working with third-parties on FAFSA completion, and is urging additional vigilance going forward given the unavailability of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT).

Representatives from the IRS and the Office of Federal Student Aid suspended the service in March out of concern that it could be misused by identity thieves. The tool, which many students use when applying for federal aid, is not expected to be restored until fall 2017.

There are reports that some students and families have been scammed by individuals seeking to take advantage of this situation by charging families for help filing the FAFSA and/or stealing the families’ personal information for illicit use.

Continue reading Reminder: Beware Potential FAFSA Scams

Student View: Changes Needed to Support College Applicants with Disabilities

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Colleges must do more to provide and improve accommodations for students with disabilities, grad student Valerie Piro wrote in a recent essay published by Inside Higher Ed.

Piro, who uses a wheelchair and is currently pursuing a master’s degree at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, highlighted the challenges she faced when touring colleges as a high school student.

At one university, she had to use a makeshift wooden ramp to navigate a short flight of stairs. At another school, her prospective residence hall was located at the bottom of a steep hill and the college’s dorm rooms were much too small to accommodate her physical therapy equipment.

“Physical space and a well-functioning infrastructure on a campus cannot be overlooked, especially when one has a disability,” wrote Piro, who is paralyzed from the chest down. “What better way to tell a wheelchair user that they don’t belong at a college or university than by strewing the campus with stairs, broken help buttons, and pitiful excuses for ramps?”

Continue reading Student View: Changes Needed to Support College Applicants with Disabilities

Out-of-Service: IRS Data Retrieval Tool Unavailable to FAFSA Filers

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The IRS Data Retrieval Tool that many students use to complete their FAFSA is currently unavailable, and officials estimate it will be several weeks before it is back up and running.

Representatives from the IRS and the Office of Federal Student Aid said Thursday that they decided to suspend the service out of concern that it could be misused by identity thieves.

Although FAFSA applicants still have the option to enter income information manually, college access advocates are concerned that students and families who can’t access the tool will face more complications in their quest to access federal student aid.

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool, introduced in the 2010-11 school year, helps speed up the application process and reduces the potential that a student’s FAFSA will be flagged for verification — a process that can delay the awarding of financial aid packages.

Continue reading Out-of-Service: IRS Data Retrieval Tool Unavailable to FAFSA Filers