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SallieMae, one of the largest lenders of student loans in the U.S., recently offered students some advice on how to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Officials at SallieMae said that 20 percent of students and their families did not submit FAFSA paperwork last year because they thought they wouldn't be eligible for financial aid or weren't aware of the support that is available.
"Sallie Mae recommends a ‘1-2-3 approach’ to help families pay for college," Martha Holler, senior vice president of the organization, said in a statement. "First, take advantage of free money such as grants and scholarships, second, explore federal loans, and, third, fill the gap with affordable private loans."
Students at some schools, such as the University of Northern Iowa, can fill out their FAFSA in as little as 10 minutes, according to the college's student newspaper. Now, students filling out college applications for the university can submit their parents' tax information online, eliminating the need to wait for lengthy paperwork processes to be completed.
Financial aid like Stafford loans and Pell Grants, which may be received by filling out the FAFSA, can really help offset the cost of your degree. Talk to your college adviser to ask which programs you might be eligible for.
Doing a college search and finding the right university for you can be exciting. However, even after you've found the perfect school and submitted a college application, you shouldn't wait before sending off your financial aid paperwork, according to the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune.
Many college admissions experts say that the sooner you fill out financial aid paperwork, such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the better. Mary Jo Green, financial aid supervisor at Mid State Technical College in Wisconsin, told the news source that many students who complete financial aid paperwork sooner are awarded money to help them pay for college.
"Every student who fills out the FAFSA could at least be eligible for the federal unsubsidized Stafford loan," Green told the newspaper. "Unless you apply, you don't know what resources are out there from the federal government or the state to help you access college."
According to an article in the Huffington Post, after you've submitted your FAFSA, you'll be told what your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is. This is how much a college will expect you and your family to pay toward the cost of your degree. Most schools will use the EFC to calculate how much financial aid you're eligible for.
Don't wait to submit your financial aid paperwork. Do it as soon as you've filled out your college application.
For many students filling out college applications, completing financial aid paperwork can be a lengthy and confusing process. To make things simpler for prospective students, colleges will be required to adopt a single, easily understood form to let borrowers know what they're getting into, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education.
The proposed "Financial Aid Shopping Sheet" will replace the various forms that colleges send to students about financial aid packages when their college applications are accepted. The new forms will make it clearer how much money students are eligible to borrow, and will make it easier for seniors to compare financial aid packages between schools.
"There was a great deal of excitement for the idea of a standard financial aid shopping sheet," reads a summary of the report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which commissioned the study into the proposed form. "It is clear from many of the comments that you saw a need for standardized information."
If you're filling out college applications or considering going to college, ask your adviser if the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet is offered by your prospective schools. Although it may take time for all schools to provide it, the form could make it easier to see how much money you're eligible for.
Students in California have proposed drastic changes to the way that tuition fees operate at the University of California (UC), Berkeley, reports Inside Higher Ed.
The proposal involved abolishing the traditional tuition fee structure. Instead, students proposed that individuals who successfully graduate from the college pay 5 percent of their annual income to the university over a 20-year period. In addition to potentially making college more accessible for many students, supporters of the proposals say that the university could triple its revenues.
"Under this plan, no undergraduate student would have to worry about paying for their UC education while they are in school," Chris LoCascio, president of Fix UC, the group of UC Riverside students that developed the idea, told the regents of the school, as quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle. He added that the university "can't afford not to adopt the plan."
UC Berkeley, and other "public ivy" universities face significant struggles with funding. According to The Washington Post, many renowned public colleges are facing continued federal budget cuts. The plans announced by Fix UC could encourage more students to fill out college applications and focus on their education.
What do you think of the proposals?
US News reported this list of colleges and universities that claim (that’s the operative word here) to meet 100% of their students’ financial need. That doesn’t mean that these schools will bestow upon you the grants you need to pay 100% of your tuition simply because you enroll. They claim to meet 100% of what you need. Your financial need is the difference between what tuition is and what your expected family contribution (EFC) is. In order for schools to know what your need is, they need you to complete the FAFSA.
Still, even with the FAFSA, different schools have their own definition of “need”. That’s what might make this list a bit confusing. For example, one school’s calculation of your EFC can produce an EFC higher than the one calculated using the FAFSA. Schools use grants and subsidized loans to help fill the void between your expected family contribution and the cost of attending. So, don’t allow yourself to be caught off guard if a school winds up offering a smaller amount of financial aid than you expected.
Don’t get us wrong, this list is a good start. But students may find that other schools could end up leaving them with smaller tuition bills. And as always, try not to assume anything.
Bryn Mawr College
California Institute of Technology
Claremont McKenna College
Franklin W. Olin College Engineering
Harvey Mudd College
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Mount Holyoke College
St. Olaf College
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Thomas Aquinas College
University of Chicago
University of Dayton
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
University of Northern Colorado
University of Pennsylvania
University of Richmond
University of Virginia
Washington University in St. Louis
Have you completed the FAFSA yet? If not, hurry!
With the cost of earning a college degree increasing every year, many students filling out college applications also try to look for work to supplement their income. However, according to a new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, finding part-time work has become significantly more difficult in recent years, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education.
According to the report, college students worked an average of 22 hours per week in 2000, compared to just eight hours in 2009. The authors of the report blame the economic crisis as a primary reason that students are working less while going to school. However, Judith Scott-Clayton, author of the study, believes the number of hours worked per week by students will increase over time as the economy stabilizes.
The study also highlights the rising costs of tuition and the current state of the employment market, and how students will be affected. Scott-Clayton wrote that for the first time, students who filled out college applications in 2009 were more likely to go to college and not work than hold down part-time jobs while they studied.
If you're fortunate enough to find a job while you earn a degree, make sure that your studies are not affected. Although college can be expensive, sacrificing grades for part-time work may be harmful in the long run.
At the recent Council of Independent Colleges conference in Florida, Rolf Wegenke, president of the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, said that the number of college students in serious need of financial assistance is on the rise, reports The Washington Post.
Wegenke used examples from schools throughout Wisconsin to illustrate his point. The number of students whose expected family contributions to pay for college was little or nothing rose from 42,641 students in the 2008-2009 academic year to more than 65,800 in 2009-2010. Wegenke believes this situation mirrors trends observed across the country.
"The opportunity for this country to meet the goal to return to first place in educational attainment and to be competitive in the ‘knowledge economy’ will be compromised if we have a ‘lost generation’ who – from lack of resources, not lack of ability – are denied opportunity," Wegenke told the newspaper.
Wegenke's observations are supported by other reports. According to the Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board, some schools have reported an increase in the number of students applying for Free Application for Federal Student Aid by as much as 116 percent in the past year.
Just because more students are applying for financial aid doesn't mean you should be put off when you're filling out college applications. Make sure to research financial aid and scholarships thoroughly when you're doing a college search.
Under new proposals from Democrats in the Senate, students considering filling out college applications in Michigan may be able to receive generous grants, reports the Huffington Post.
Policymakers in the Senate have proposed that high school seniors be awarded grants of up to $9,500 each to help them pay for tuition at public universities and community colleges throughout the state. Although the details of how the funding will be provided have yet to be clarified, experts say that closing tax loopholes and collecting sales taxes from out-of-state retailers will at least partly fund the grants.
Senator Gretchen Whitmer, the Senate's Democratic leader, said that such measures are important in making sure students have access to education in light of reductions in federal funding.
"We've got to not just reverse that trend, but we've got to do something bold to say Michigan believes in education and this is a great place to come and locate your business because we've got the work force you need," Whitmer said, as quoted by The Associated Press.
The news source reports that the total amount of grant funding students will receive would depend on how long they have been in the K-12 system, and that maximum grants will cover the median cost of tuition at 15 of Michigan's public universities.
As the various Republican presidential candidates look to the Iowa caucuses as an early indication of their chances of securing the nomination, a new report indicates that college students are taking an active interest in politics, according to the Huffington Post.
A new infographic published by CampusLive suggests that many college students are concerned about the future of the economy, and are evaluating what the Republican candidates propose to do to fix it. The report suggests that 72 percent of college students are actively interested in politics, and that 87 percent plan to vote in this year's presidential elections. Almost one-third of respondents indicated that the economy was a primary area of concern for them.
According to MTV, many college students are thinking about their prospects in the long run as they evaluate their political standpoints.
"If I work hard enough in school and go to a good graduate school, eventually it will pay off and I'll be able to find a job," Sita Chantramonklasri, a 19-year-old student, told the news outlet. "People would always have to struggle to get a job earlier. The same principles apply: If you work hard and put yourself out there, eventually you'll find a job."
If you're thinking about filling out a college application, or voting in this year's election, consider the policies that are important to you and your future.
Criticisms leveled at many legal education programs echo similar problems with the higher education system in general, reports Inside Higher Ed.
The rising cost of tuition, necessitating higher student loan debt for many students, and the uncertain job market are problems faced not only by law students, but many undergraduates across the U.S. as well. According to a report published by the Center for American Progress, saturation of the employment market has driven salaries down, making law school something for a risky gamble in the face of rising student debt.
"Though a few lucky grads will make more than $130,000 per year, most new lawyers can expect annual salaries of around $63,000," reads the report. "With monthly loan payments near $1,000, graduates are finding that membership in the legal profession is not the golden ticket they thought it would be."
The report suggests increased regulatory and accreditation measures to ensure that schools publish reliable, factual information about their job placement rates. Other solutions outlined in the report include additional federal funding and scholarships to students through the Fund for Innovation in Postsecondary Education, and annual reviews to address the causes of increasing tuition.
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