Category Archives: Financial Aid

#FinAid101: Share Your Tips on Twitter

Knowing the facts about financial aid can help college-bound students select a best fit school.

As students kick their college search into high gear this fall, NACAC encourages you to share your wisdom via Twitter.

Contribute your top tips using #FinAid101 and follow the hashtag to see advice submitted by colleagues from across the country.

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FAFSA Update: Data Imported From DRT Will Be Masked

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The IRS Data Retrieval Tool will be available to FAFSA filers this fall, but the tax information it imports will remain masked — even to students and parents.

According to a recent Federal Student Aid memo, the change will enhance security and privacy. But many financial aid professionals are worried the tool’s new constraints will discourage families and students from using it to import their tax information when applying for federal aid.

Continue reading FAFSA Update: Data Imported From DRT Will Be Masked

FAFSA Update: More Students File for Aid

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Will the FAFSA’s earlier filing date result in increased access to higher education?

New federal data is promising.

After a four-year decline, FAFSA completions are up for the high school class of 2017, the first cohort of students who were able to file for aid starting on Oct. 1 — a full three months earlier than previously allowed.

Continue reading FAFSA Update: More Students File for Aid

Maryland Outlaws Scholarship Displacement at Public Colleges

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A new law prohibits scholarship displacement at Maryland’s public colleges and universities.

The state is the first in the nation to pass legislation limiting the practice, which can spur financial aid reductions for students who are awarded private scholarships.

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Report: New Technologies Could Help Improve Financial Aid Process

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Financial concerns cause nearly 3 million students to drop out of college each year.

Researchers at Tyton Partners believe a student-centered approach to financial aid could help reduce those numbers. In a recent report, the Boston-based advising firm chronicled the challenges posed by the current system and examined potential solutions through a survey of more than 1,800 higher ed administrators.

Their take? Targeted communication could help improve the process for both students and colleges.

“According to administrators, the biggest challenges preventing students from accessing aid are lack of student engagement, lack of awareness, and insufficient financial aid,” the report notes. “All three of these issues are addressable through improved communication between the institution and the student.”

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DRT Now Available for Income-Driven Repayment Plan Applicants

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The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) is now available to student loan holders applying for an income-driven repayment plan, the Department of Education announced last week.

According to a press release, “new encryption protections” have been added to the tool. However, the DRT will remain out-of-service for FAFSA filers until Oct. 1.

Continue reading DRT Now Available for Income-Driven Repayment Plan Applicants

Lawmakers Examine Factors Behind Suspension of DRT

The Internal Revenue Service Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) was suspended on March 3, with Federal Student Aid (FSA) and IRS citing security and privacy concerns. On  May 3,  the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing to get a better understanding of the problems that caused the tool to be taken out of service and the steps FSA and the IRS are taking to restore this critical tool.

James Runcie, the Chief Operating Officer of the office of Federal Student Aid (FSA), confirmed that the DRT will continue to be suspended for 2017-2018 FAFSA; it will return Oct. 1, 2017 for the 2018-2019 FAFSA. This solution, according to a memo from FSA, will “limit the information that displays to the applicant” to enhance security. Taxpayer information will be encrypted and hidden from view on both the IRS DRT page and the FASFA page. Continue reading Lawmakers Examine Factors Behind Suspension of DRT

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

YesU: New App Helps Families Navigate the Financial Aid Process

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Courtesy Photo

New York Times bestselling author Wes Moore launched BridgeEdU with one goal in mind: To increase college access and completion rates for low-income and first-generation students.

The program, which began in Baltimore in 2014, uses a high-tech, high-touch academic support model to help students transition during their first year of college. But as Moore and his staff quickly discovered, the complex process of applying for financial aid can create roadblocks for even the most motivated students.

Case in point? Although all members of the inaugural class of BridgeEdU scholars reported that they had applied for financial aid, the staff soon discovered that a whopping 75 percent hadn’t completed the FAFSA, and most of the students had not created accounts with Maryland’s state grant agency.

The experience inspired BridgeEdU staff to create YesU —  a mobile app released in 2016 that offers customized step-by-step support to students across the nation as they apply for financial aid.

Continue reading YesU: New App Helps Families Navigate the Financial Aid Process