Category Archives: Financial Aid

Rethinking Financial Aid for Student-Parents

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Could changing the federal financial aid structure help more student-parents earn a degree?

A recent op-ed published by the Center for American Progress argues that awarding larger Pell Grants could help more parents persist to graduation.

“These funds would not be enough to cover anywhere close to the full cost of child care—nor would they address underlying structural issues related to the lack of available spots in high-quality child care options—but they would at least recognize that parents face larger costs than nonparents, including for things that go beyond child care, such as food or clothing,” Ben Miller, vice president for postsecondary education at American Progress, notes in his column.

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HEA Update: Standardized Financial Aid Letters Proposed

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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.

Last month, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Joni Ernst (R-IA) introduced the Understanding the True Cost of College Act of 2019 — stand-alone legislation intended to be included as part of the larger HEA reauthorization.

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.”

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Emphasis on Financial Literacy Could Help Students Borrow More Responsibly

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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.

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7 Considerations to Make When Transferring Schools

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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:

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Department of Education Simplifies FAFSA Verification Process

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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.

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Do Your Research on Financial Aid

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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.

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FAFSA State Deadlines are Approaching

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Need financial aid for the 2019-20 academic year?

The US Department of Education is reminding students to remain cognizant of deadlines when completing the FAFSA.

While the form is primarily used to award federal financial aid, many states also use the FAFSA to assess eligibility for their aid programs — and some of those deadlines are on the horizon.

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