Financial aid award letters have long been a topic of conversation within the college admission counseling profession, and as discussions about reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) intensify, Congress seems poised to join the conversation.
If passed, higher education institutions would be required to use a uniform financial aid offer form containing standardized definitions. According to the bill’s sponsors, the move is intended to ensure colleges provide information to students and families in “a consumer-friendly manner that is simple and understandable.”
Financial literacy is not typically a top priority for American teens but new research shows that taking a course in personal finance could help teens borrow more responsibly for college.
Researchers at Montana State University found when students are required to take personal finance courses to graduate high school, they are more likely to shift from high-cost borrowing to low-cost borrowing to finance their college degree.
Students who took these classes were about 10 percent more likely to apply for federal financial aid and take out a federal loan than those without financial education, according to the study.
Numerous students transfer to another college and complete their degree program each year. Wanting to be closer to home, changing your major, not seeing the current school as good fit, and financial issues often factor into a transfer decision.
Before making a final decision, students should consider the following:
The Department of Education recently announced changes to FAFSA verification aimed to help make the process less burdensome.
In lieu of IRS tax return transcripts and verification of non-filing forms, the guidance allows institutions to accept copies of signed income tax returns and written statements of non-filing from students who are selected for FAFSA verification. The changes are effective immediately and apply to both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 cycles.
Many college fairs are held during the fall. They provide a great opportunity for high school students and their parents or guardians to talk with college admission representatives. At two annual college fairs I am familiar with, financial aid representatives have a booth and talk about local scholarship options. Unfortunately, their booths are not very busy while admission representatives have many students waiting to discuss admission requirements. Usually the reps whose colleges are the most competitive and have the most well-known names have the longest lines.
In many instances, top students wait in long lines for well-known colleges because they have been encouraged to apply. Student GPAs and test scores can assist with the admission process, but there is a catch. Because most of the students applying to these colleges will also have impressive academic backgrounds, the colleges may not offer a generous financial award package to each student. Every college does things differently.
In many homes, filling out the FAFSA is a family affair.
Although students are always encouraged to take the lead when it comes to applying to colleges, they are often required to work in conjunction with their parents or guardians to provide information about their family’s income and other factors when seeking financial aid.
With that in mind, the US Department of Education recently published a blog post with tips to help families navigate the FAFSA process.