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Articles: Financial Aid

Jeffrey R. Docking is the president of Adrian College in Michigan and the author of "Crisis in Higher Education: A Plan To Save Small Liberal Arts Colleges in America."

Sometimes, well-known propositions lead to predictable conclusions. But not always. Occasionally, they lead to surprises—and even busted myths. Here’s one: Wealthy, private institutions willing to invest large endowments in financial aid for poorer students do the best job of expanding access to higher education.

Some are skeptical about the ability for any school to be need-blind, because anyone viewing an application can surmise financial need without reading a student’s FAFSA form.

The answers to common questions about need-blind policies sheds light on why they’ve been adopted whether they work and whether other enrollment diversity initiatives can be just as effective.

Some low-income high school students in Adams State University’s service area, the rural valleys of southern Colorado, live up to 50 or 60 miles from campus. Thanks to a new federal pilot program, these students there and 43 other institutions can now use Pell Grants to take dual-enrollment courses.

The Consumer Financial ProtectionBureau’s forthcoming “Payback Playbook” intends to simplify the student loan repayment process by presenting clear, customized repayment options.

In April, the agency offered a sneak peek. The initiative will provide borrowers with simple repayment plan options any time they log into their student loan account. The Playbook summary will also be included with their monthly loan bills or in regular emails from their student loan servicers.

It has been demonstrated amply that financial aid leveraging can, under the right circumstances, increase enrollment and net tuition revenue. For some, however, that isn’t the case.

Enrollment leaders must therefore assess other aspects of recruitment to determine how effectively they are working to build larger, more committed applicant and admit pools, especially when increases in aid are not conducive or possible.

Just 30 percent of financial aid professionals reported using social media to provide financial literacy content to students.

Financial aid offices that invest time on the major platforms say social media lightens the workload. On a higher level, social networks represent another way to provide students with financial literacy education that can advance institutional goals, including better retention and lower cohort default rates.

Michigan State University ran a Facebook photo contest so students could show experiences made possible by financial aid.

Michigan State University

Social experiment: Facebook Photo contest

Facebook.com/msufinaid/

The idea: To show the positive side of financial aid, Michigan State held a contest that asked students to share a photo of an experience that would not have been possible had they not received aid. Ten students won $500 each.

Jennifer Wick is vice president of Scannell & Kurz higher education enrollment consultants, a Ruffalo Cody company.

The shift to the use of families’ Prior-Prior Year (PPY) financial data on the FAFSA has come to pass. This shift has far-reaching implications not only for timing of financial aid awards, but also in other aspects of enrollment, such as marketing, recruitment and institutional budgeting.

A majority of campus leaders surveyed by UB expected graduation and retention rates to increase.

Higher ed leaders continue to seek ways to prove their institution’s value to a shrinking pool of college candidates. In addition, a huge financial aid cloud hangs over everyone’s heads: the one with that odd moniker of “prior-prior.”

A new book by Melinda Lewis and William Elliott shows how current aid models contribute to inequality, and discusses a number of promising alternatives.

Higher education is supposed to be a critical first step on the ladder that leads to economic mobility. But William Elliott and Melinda Lewis say that students often leave school with debilitating debt that delays or even prevents any upward climb on that ladder.

Orientation and engagement activities introduced by Iowa Lakes Community College administrators have driven down the student loan default rate. President Valerie Newhouse says the two trends are intertwined.

Community college students who take out the smallest loans default at the highest rates, and many borrowers who get into trouble make no effort to fix their problems.

Those are two findings in a new report, “A Closer Look at the Trillion,” which calls for institutional and federal policy changes to help students and community colleges better manage debt.

Thomas J. Botzman is president of Misericordia University in Dallas, Pennsylvania.

Decades ago, U.S. Sen. Claiborne Pell eloquently stated: “The strength of the United States is not the gold in Fort Knox or the weapons of mass destruction we have, but the sum total of the education and character of our people.”

About 70 students are currently enrolled in the Goucher Prison Education Partnership, which receives no public funding. (Photo: Rob Ferrell courtesy of Goucher College)

A small-scale program that will give prisoners Pell Grants to pursue college degrees represents a symbolic step toward expanding access to higher education. But only a fraction of the inmates who could benefit will receive financial aid, experts say.

Steven R. DiSalvo is president of Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire.

Hillary Clinton’s recently announced $350 billion plan to offer free tuition for public colleges and universities has merit, but does not apply across the board and would require additional appropriations from Congress.

Clinton and all the 2016 presidential candidates should absolutely be focused on this issue, but from a wider perspective. We must look for alternatives to tuitions reaching as high as $250,000 and $1.2 trillion in outstanding student loan debt in the U.S.

Consumer advocacy groups support new financial-aid payment rules that have raised concerns.

Colleges and universities using third-party providers to process students’ Title IV payments face changes aimed at giving students more choice in receiving financial aid dollars. A new federal proposal could especially affect institutions that issue tuition refunds directly to students’ debit cards.

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