A new undergraduate scholarship program available to high-performing high school seniors with financial need from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. Check out all the details of this excellent opportunity here. Hat tip: Evan Read via College Admissions Counselors.
Last night we participated in a live Twitter chat lead by Jodi Okun of College Financial Aid Advisors and her guest, the folks at Central Scholarship, a non-profit that awards scholarships and interest-free loans to students pursuing higher education. It was a lively group and we learned -- or were reminded of -- a few things worth repeating.
Submit a 140 character response about how technology has helped with the education system and you could win one of four $500 scholarships for the upcoming school year. The Tweet For Success Scholarship is sponsored by DialMyCalls, which provides mass notification services to schools. "Hello, snow day!" Find all the info and enter here. And, FYI, while you will need to tweet your message to @DialMyCalls, you do not need to have your own Twitter account to do so or to enter to win. Good luck!
A new study from Sallie Mae, How America Pays for College 2013, evaluates how families view and manage the cost of a college education today. Among the findings:
- Increasing optimism about the value of college. A higher percentage of parents than in previous years — 85% — express an unwavering belief that college is an investment in their child's future.
- A post-recession cost consciousness. Parent out-of-pocket spending has decreased 35% since 2010. Overall, parents now fund approximately one-quarter of college expenses, down from a peak of one-third.
- A growing reliance on grants and scholarships. “Free” money is filling part of the gap left by lower parental contributions.
- Larger student contributions. Students are funding more of the college bill through borrowing and savings/income than they did five years ago.
And for more analysis of the survey, see "Holding the Line" in today's Inside Higher Ed.
It's decision time! Your financial aid award letters will usually arrive with your letters of acceptance, or soon thereafter. Even though you will be celebrating and contemplating your choices, you will also need to be focused and diligent about evaluating your financial aid offers. College advisor Alice Kleeman is back with advice for students and families and answers for your questions during this important time.
- You will often receive financial aid offers (also called "financial aid packages" or "financial aid award letters") with your admit letter or shortly thereafter. Review these offers carefully. Ask questions at your College and Career Center or Guidance Office if you don't understand your letters.
- Different colleges cost different amounts, present their costs in different ways, and offer different amounts of financial aid in different combinations. This can make it difficult to understand which combination of price and student aid award is best. Here are some tools for comparing financial aid awards:
Diane Stemper, Executive Director of Financial Aid at The Ohio State University, returns today with the second of a two-part post on comparing financial aid awards so that students and their families can be wise consumers and better understand what they are being offered and signing on for. Yesterday Stemper laid out the vocabulary and content of financial aid award letters along with a step-by-step plan for comparing aid awards. You can see Part One of Stemper's post here. Today, she has more advice for students and families on understanding aid awards as smart consumers, as well as guidance for interacting with financial aid offices and a resource list for tools that can help families in the comparison process.
· Colleges may state they meet “full need” – sounds great, but how much of that is loans?
· Are parent loans listed as part of the financial aid award? If so, it may look like you have sufficient financial aid to meet your costs, but part of this could be debt that your parents are incurring on top of your own student loan debt.
Different colleges cost different amounts, present their costs in different ways, and offer different amounts of fiancial aid in different combinations. This can make it difficult to understand which combination of price and student aid award is best.Diane Stemper, Executive Director of Financial Aid at The Ohio State University, joins us today for the first of a two-part post on comparing financial aid awards so that students and their families can be wise consumers and better understand what they are being offered and signing on for.
During 30 years as a financial aid director, I have worked at several different colleges and universities, creating and revising award letters at each and every school. Financial aid offices across the country engage in the same activity, striving to provide a clear message in the financial aid award letter and often approaching it in a slightly different manner. The result is that letters from different institutions often do not look the same. How do you understand this land of acronyms and abbreviations? And more importantly, how do you understand what the cost will be to you and how do you compare this for various institutions as you make your very important college choice decision?
There are a few basic definitions that will assist you in sorting out the information:
Financial aid offices are not set up like admission offices. They are often less well staffed, and they have the college’s existing student body to care for, as well as applicants and their families. What does this mean for you? You cannot ask a financial aid officer to hold your hand. You need to do as much as you can to master the process, and call on the aid officer with specific and informed questions. That is how you will obtain the best guidance.
The vast majority of aid officers do their jobs because they care about helping families afford higher education. Many were able to get through college themselves because of financial aid. They want to make this work for you as well— within the legal and institutional guidelines under which they operate. So treat your financial aid officers well. And don’t forget to say thank you!
March is a big month for seniors in more ways than one. Not only will most admission decisions be released this month, but students will also be evaluating their financial aid awards. This is one of the last steps in your college admission process. Even though we hope you will be celebrating and contemplating your choices, you will also need to be focused and diligent about evaluating those offers—both with regard to where you will spend the next four years and also how you will pay for them. College advisor Alice Kleeman is back with lots of terrific advice for students and families about what they should be doing this month.
* Soon after you filed your FAFSA, you should have received your Student Aid Report (SAR) via email or, if you did not provide an email address, via snail mail. The SAR summarizes the information your provided on the FAFSA and provides the Expected Family Contribution. If you do not receive the SAR within three to five days of filing the FAFSA, check the status of your application by going to the "FAFSA on the Web" home page or calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center for assistance at 1-800-4FED-AID.