Category Archives: Financial Aid

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.

Continue reading Out-of-Service: IRS Data Retrieval Tool Unavailable to FAFSA Filers

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.

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

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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Spread the Word: School Counselors Positively Impact College Access

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Need another reason to celebrate National School Counseling Week?

A recent NACAC study confirmed that students who meet one-on-one with a school counselor are significantly more likely to attend college and apply for federal financial aid.

Continue reading Spread the Word: School Counselors Positively Impact College Access

Tips to Boost FAFSA Participation

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Looking for ways to boost FAFSA completion rates in your school district?

Erin Bibo, deputy chief of college & career programs with DC Public Schools, shared success strategies in a recent column published by Homeroom — the official blog of the US Department of Education.

“Financial aid plays a huge factor in students’ college-going decisions and success,” Bibo wrote. “For a large urban district like DC Public Schools, where 77 percent of our students qualify for free and reduced price lunch, getting graduating seniors to complete their FAFSAs on time isn’t an optional task, it’s a necessary one.”

Continue reading Tips to Boost FAFSA Participation

Track FAFSA Completion Rates by School, District

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Looking for a better way to chart FAFSA trends in your community?

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. The form is completed annually by current and prospective college students to determine their eligibility for financial assistance.

Continue reading Track FAFSA Completion Rates by School, District

New Alliance Formed to Address College Access

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A group of 30 selective colleges has launched a new alliance aimed at expanding access to postsecondary education.

The American Talent Initiative (ATI) — whose founding members include several Ivy League and public flagship universities — seeks to bring a total of 50,000 low- and moderate-income students to universities with graduation rates of least 70 percent by 2025.

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Report: Counselors Positively Impact College Access

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Students who meet one-on-one with a school counselor are significantly more likely to attend college and apply for federal financial aid, according to a new study released today by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).

The findings, culled from nationally representative data, are the first to demonstrate that school counselors have a positive impact on student outcomes that is both quantifiable and statistically significant.

NACAC’s latest research report — How Can High School Counseling Shape Students’ Postsecondary Attendance? — shows that 12th graders who talked about their future plans with a school counselor were:

  • 6.8 times more likely to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • 3.2 times more likely to attend college.
  • Two times more likely to attend a bachelor’s degree program.

Continue reading Report: Counselors Positively Impact College Access

NACAC at ASHE: College Promise Programs

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Earlier this month, NACAC research associate Tara Nicola attended the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) to present NACAC work as well as stay abreast of the latest research in the field. This is the first in a series of posts highlighting exciting research relevant to admission and high school counseling professionals.

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Completing a Dependency Appeal for Financial Aid

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You may be advising a student who lives with their grandmother or aunt, but was never legally adopted. In other instances, an older brother, sister, or family friend is raising a child but no official adoption took place.

For some families, this approach may have offered a way to handle conflicts and crises without involving the court system. However, complications can arise when it comes time to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Continue reading Completing a Dependency Appeal for Financial Aid