Tag: college financial aid

Colleges Create Unnecessary Barriers To Financial Aid

From New America’s Rachel Fishman. According to a Congressional report released this week, some colleges illegally require students to file unnecessary paperwork to be considered for aid. Read more at  Ed Central.


Federal Financial Aid Information: A Review Of Its Effectiveness For Students And Parents

Higher Ed Watch

The process for learning about and applying for financial aid can be intimidating and overwhelming. A new resource, studentaid.gov, provides students and families with clearer information about federal financial aid and the financial aid application process.

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The Illusion Of College Financial Aid

Guest Blogger: Paul Wrubel, College Adviser, San Mateo , Ca.

Again this year, millions of hopeful Americans will complete the FAFSA and CSS Profile forms in order to qualify for need-based financial aid.  They will pay attention to deadlines and try to follow the rules out of an innate sense of honesty and a desire to play it straight.  They will do their job.

For their troubles, the promised outcomes will rarely if ever occur.  Financial aid awards across the nation will reflect a different reality with elusive, shifting rules and an opaque strategy of determining who gets what.  Families at any income and a few dollars left in the bank will be routinely “short-sheeted” by college-produced aid awards.  If a family reporting an income of $65,000 were judged by their financial aid award, you might guess that the family had an income of $90,000 or even more.  For millions of American families the college financial aid system will be a cruel and costly hoax.

For years, there has been a clamor to simplify the FAFSA so that families can more readily apply for need-based aid but with every passing year, it is clear that simplification would merely add to the growing chorus of disillusioned Americans.  What real benefit is there to gain easy access to a theater if the play is bad?  Simplification of the financial aid paperwork would merely add to the audience of disappointed and increasingly angry college-bound students and their families.  But the illusion runs much deeper than mere paperwork.

An actual experience with financial aid looks like this.  A family had submitted precisely the same financial and demographic information to three private colleges, two in Massachusetts and one in Oregon.  Each college received exactly the same numbers.  Two colleges responded with offers that suggested a family contribution of about $19,000 and $32,000 while a third proclaimed that the family did not qualify for one cent of aid making their family contribution a whopping $45,000+ or an assumption of an income of around $150-200,000.  Same numbers, same formula, different outcomes.  Why?

For a complete version of this piece go to:   http://www.paulwrubel.com/college-financial-aid-the-grand-illusion/

College Financial Aid Policies Can Cause Tension Among Social Classes

2012: The Year of College Affordability?


Last month, the Obama administration signaled that it is paying attention to
the increasing problem of college affordability, especially for middle-income
families. Vice President Joe Biden discussed the reality for many
parents:  “There’s more parents tonight who are going to go to bed staring
at the ceiling literally wondering about, whether your mother is going to have
to tell you… ‘you can’t go back next semester, we don’t have the money’” (Huffington Post).

Those worries are already familiar to Californians, who have witnessed
seemingly endless tuition and fee increases at all of its public
institutions—University of California, California State University and
California Community Colleges. In the past three years, the UCs, Cal States and
community colleges have been devastated by hundreds of millions in budget cuts.
Last year, UCs and Cal States dealt with a $650 million shortfall followed by
another $100 million in midyear cuts (Thoughts on Public Education, San Francisco Chronicle).  On Thursday, Gov. Jerry
Brown said to prepare for up to $200 million more cuts for UCs and Cal States
unless additional revenues can be generated through a November ballot
initiative (Sacramento Bee).

For students, budget cuts mean increased tuition, more competition for admission
from out-of-state students (who pay much higher tuition and are favored by some
budget watchers), and fewer courses and services once enrolled (often entailing
a costly fifth year to achieve a four-year degree). The pace at which tuition
has increased is alarming. In November, anticipating midyear “trigger cuts,”
Cal State trustees voted on a 10-percent tuition hike, its ninth fee increase
in as many years (Thoughts on Public Education).

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, public four-year
college tuition more than tripled in western states in the last 30 years (US News). And according to the College Board Advocacy and Policy Center, California public
four-year universities had the highest percentage increase in in-state tuition
and fees for the 2011-12 year (Neon Tommy).

Responding to higher college costs, students are borrowing more and ending
college with more debt. “A Berkeley education is still a bargain, in terms of
lifetime earnings, but that’s a small comfort to a middle-class who can’t
afford it, or to a student who has to take out a burdensome loan,” said Robert
Reich, a Berkeley professor and former U.S. labor secretary (Washington Post).

Though all sectors are impacted, many middle-class families are no longer
confident that they can pay for their children’s education without
extraordinary sacrifice, if at all. Middle-class families typically do not
qualify for financial assistance available to California’s poor. At UC
Berkeley, the proportion of middle-class students—those whose families earn
between $80,000 and $140,000—has declined while low- and high-income student
populations have grown. In response, Berkeley officials decided to cap the
amount middle-class families pay at 15 percent of their household income.

The cost and scarcity of college opportunities raises the risk of different
classes pitting their interests against each other. For example, the California
Dream Act, which went into effect this month, provides access to public and
private scholarships for a group of low-income, primarily undocumented
immigrant students who previously had no chance for financial help. It would be
sad if these students had added to their vulnerable legal and social status the
enmity of others whose educational opportunities were also becoming
increasingly jeopardized. Collective efforts to ensure affordable college for
low- and
middle-income families offer the best hope for avoiding social-class resentment
and expanding opportunity. Ultimately, the way to protect the middle class is
to grow the middle class.

Arizona Joins States Cutting Back Merit Scholarships

Citing budget cuts and the need to screen better for college readiness, the board of regents approved changes to the popular Arizona university scholarship but exempted from them existing high school juniors and seniors. The new requirements mean students will not only have to earn an “exceeds” rating on all three parts of the AIMS test but also must score at least 28 on the ACT or at least 1300 on the SAT college-entrance exams. They also must meet certain minimum grade requirements, generally a 3.5 average. The scholarship will be lowered from 100% to 25% of freshman-level tuition.

Georgia Hope Scholarship Running Out Of Money

  The nations flagship state guarantee merit scholarship is Georgia”s Hope Scholarship. It has sent clear signals to secondary school students about meeting course and grade point standards. But now it is threatened.

Losing HOPE
A popular scholarship that has become a near-birthright for Georgians is going broke, and state officials acknowledge they’ll have to cut participation or reduce benefits if it is to survive. Since its introduction in 1993, the HOPE Scholarship program has seen an explosion of participation and spawned similar merit-based programs in other states. But with the lottery funds that support the program slowing in growth, and an uptick in the number of students participating, HOPE’s reserves are being drained and could be completely tapped by the close of 2013. Source:ECS