Category Archives: Access

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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Breaking Down Barriers: New White Paper Examines Racial Equity in Higher Ed

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Coalition building and collaboration at the federal level may help lead the charge for equity-centered admission and higher education policies.

That assessment was shared last month by panelists and attendees at a Washington, DC, event marking the release of a new white paper examining racial equity and barriers to postsecondary education for minority students.

The paper was released by the Young Invincibles, a bipartisan nonprofit focused on the needs of young people ages 18-34. Through policy research and analysis, the organization advocates for a broad range of policy priorities, including access to postsecondary education — a crucial element for this age group.

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ICYMI: NACAC Advocates for Transgender Students

NACAC CEO Joyce Smith expressed strong opposition last week to the Trump administration’s decision to roll back federal protections that allow students to use the school bathroom that reflects their gender identity.

The move directly conflicts with NACAC’s Statement of Principles of Good Practice, which states that member organizations and individuals must “strive to eliminate bias within the education system based on ethnicity, creed, gender, sexual orientation, age, political affiliation, national origin, and disability.”

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Report: Many Community College Students Struggle Financially

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The majority of community college students live paycheck to paycheck, and nearly half say a lack of finances could cause them to leave school, national survey results show.

The findings — included in a new report from the Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCSE) — underscores the role finances play in educational attainment.

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Students and Counselors Make the Case for a Streamlined FAFSA

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Educators, advocates, Hill staffers, and students gathered in Washington, DC, earlier this month to learn more about efforts by the National College Access Network (NCAN) to simplify the Federal Application for Free Student Aid (FAFSA).

The overarching goal of this new streamlined FAFSA is simple — stop making low-income students repeatedly prove that they are low-income. The NCAN report, Half the FASFA: Cutting the Red Tape to Postsecondary Aid, includes three potential pathways to shorten the FAFSA.

For example, on one track, once a student has confirmed that their family earns a means-tested benefit such as SNAP (food assistance) or TANF (cash assistance), they are automatically sent to the signature portion of the form.

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Utah Pilot Program Would Expand Housing Options for Low-Income Students

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Lawmakers in Utah are considering a pilot program to help low-income college students secure housing that’s both convenient and affordable.

The bill — sponsored by Republican state Rep. Mike Winder — would provide eligible students with a place to live near their college campus.

Residents would not have to dip into student loan funds to pay for housing. Instead the program would be largely supported by public funds and private donors.

Continue reading Utah Pilot Program Would Expand Housing Options for Low-Income Students