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Articles: Financial Aid

Record numbers of students enrolling in college as well as an increasing reliance on student loans to finance the growing cost of college has vaulted student aid into the national spotlight this campaign season.

Both presidential campaigns are dedicating an unprecedented amount of time articulating their widely varying policies aimed at making college more affordable.

President Barack Obama’s administration has pushed for more student aid spending and more regulations to increase the return on the federal investment in higher education.

The Department of Education, in collaboration with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has released a new, standardized format for financial aid award letters. The “Financial Aid Shopping Sheet” offers students and families a graphic summary of the cost of attendance and aid available and can be customized by each institution. The form makes it easy to compare costs and aid offers, and provides an index of how comparable schools perform against one another.

Greater access and better outcomes are needed in higher education, agreed James Kvall (Obama for America)(middle) and Scott Fleming (Romney for President) (left), as they spoke with NASFAA President Justin Draeger.

With the presidential election campaign heating up, it’s not just jobs and the economy worth paying attention to. Financial aid administrators from 900 institutions in all 50 states got a glimpse into how their niche would be affected by both presidential candidates when James Kvall, policy director for Obama for America, and Scott Fleming, an education policy advisor for Romney for President, spoke at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) national conference in Chicago in July.

Despite Federal District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras’ ruling that negates a primary metric of the U.S. Department of Education’s “gainful employment” regulations, the DOE still has authority to regulate gainful employment programs and schools should continue to look for ways to promote the financial success of their students.

Every college or university student financial aid office produces reports—tons of them—specific to their particular institution. However, some reports are common to all. One is the annual FISAP (Fiscal Operations Reports and Application to Participate), which summarizes data for the just-completed award year and keeps a financial aid office eligible for federal funding, explains Mary Hillstrom, assistant director of operations for the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Office of Student Financial Aid. The university has 13 campuses; 12 have implemented Oracle PeopleSoft.

The maxim “publish or perish” may be associated with the way faculty operate, but financial aid office administrators would likely agree it describes their situation, as well. Rather than publishing academic work, these employees are tasked with producing reports critical to their continued operations. And as anyone who has worked in student financial aid for even just a few years will vouch, the number of reports they’re running has become a veritable deluge.

Higher One has achieved Oracle Validated Integration of its CASHNet payment processing suite 2012.2 with Oracle’s PeopleSoft Campus Solutions 9.0. With this integration, colleges and universities, as well as students and parents, are able to easily process payment anytime, anywhere using the CASHNet payment processing suite. To achieve Oracle Validated Integration, Oracle partners are required to meet a stringent set of requirements that are based on the needs and priorities of the customers.

If you still watch TV with commercials, you may have seen an ad recently talking about using data to improve your business—the bakery that mined its sales data to discover that people buy more cake on rainy days, for example. Everybody’s talking about “big data” and “data science,” basically applying sophisticated analytic techniques to large datasets. And one of the things they’re doing is predictive modeling—using historical data to make predictions about the future.

Michigan means business when it comes to going after student loan defaulters. Michigan college students graduate with a slightly higher debt than the national average, and about one in 10 Michigan student loans winds up in default—on par with the national average. However, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit has been far more aggressive in pursuing defaulters than in other states.

As college acceptance letters began popping up in mailboxes across the country this year, incoming students were left once again with the daunting task of choosing the right school. While cost has always been a consideration, more students than ever before are now considering it as a key factor—not only in terms of which school to attend, but whether they go to college at all.

Unless you live in a cave, you’ve seen the alarming headlines highlighting “exploding” college costs and “crushing” student loan debt. Because the media is trying to grab readers’ attention, these articles often use the most startling cases of these serious problems without providing context needed to fully understand the complexity of these issues. A simple internet search reveals the prevalence of these types of articles. Here are just a few recent headlines:

Unless you live in a cave, you’ve seen the alarming headlines highlighting “exploding” college costs and “crushing” student loan debt. Because the media is trying to grab readers’ attention, these articles often use the most startling cases of these serious problems without providing context needed to fully understand the complexity of these issues. A simple internet search reveals the prevalence of these types of articles.

Here are just a few recent headlines:

Unless you live in a cave, you’ve seen the alarming headlines highlighting “exploding” college costs and “crushing” student loan debt. Because the media is trying to grab readers’ attention, these articles often use the most startling cases of these serious problems without providing context needed to fully understand the complexity of these issues. A simple internet search reveals the prevalence of these types of articles.


Here are just a few recent headlines:



  • "College Costs and Student Debt Explode?"

In the midst of the debate in Congress over whether or not to double interest rates on Federal student loans in July comes another hot-button aid issue—states are running out of aid money altogether. At the end of March, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) announced it would need to suspend making Monetary Award Program (MAP) awards for FAFSAs filed on or after March 14.

Today’s financial aid director wears many hats: counselor, manager of budgets, supervisor, implementer of regulations, and keeper of data, to name a few. As the role of financial aid director has become increasingly complex and challenging, so has filling this position. A job posting could read something like a hybrid circus performer: juggler/tight-rope walker/magician with excellent communication, supervisory and financial management skills, and at least five years of experience in financial aid.

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