Category Archives: Financial Aid

Avoiding FAFSA Mistakes

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From not getting an FSA ID before filling out the FAFSA to forgetting to sign the form — it’s easy to make missteps when applying for federal financial aid.

But the US Department of Education wants to help students avoid the most common mistakes.

Officials published a blog post this month outlining 11 common FAFSA errors, and the article offers plenty of helpful information to guide students and families as they complete the form.

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Department of Education Releases Template for New College Financing Plan

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The US Department of Education recently released its 2020-21 College Financing Plan template, formerly known as the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet. The College Financing Plan is a standardized form used by participating institutions to notify students about their financial aid package. The department relied on input from financial aid administrators, students, parents, and other stakeholders to develop the new template.

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Track Your School’s FAFSA Completion Rate

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It’s FAFSA season!

Looking for a better way to chart submission rates for the students you serve? Check out the US Department of Education’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid Completion Tool.

The searchable database provides weekly updates for every high school where five or more students have filed a FAFSA.

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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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