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Financial Aid

The issues of affordability and retention challenge colleges to develop sustainable tuition policies that address the current economic climate yet educate students on the importance of paying their tuition bills on a timely basis. This web seminar, originally broadcast on October 16, 2012, discussed how Nelnet’s solutions, combined with tighter school fiscal policy, can help students meet their tuition obligations even if they do not receive all the financial aid they anticipated.

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.

In the world of federal student loan repayment, graduates have the upper hand. So do young adults well-schooled in the ways of money management.

Tusculum College in Tennessee understands that, particularly since working with the experts at Inceptia—leaders in financial education, default aversion and financial aid management services. Inceptia’s mission is to increase the financial aptitude of students, improve graduation rates and provide financial education and financial aid management services. Inceptia’s goal: 100 percent repayment of federal student loans. 

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.

In the olden days—prior to April 2011—reconciling financial information at Hofstra University’s Continuing Education division was labor-intensive and time-consuming.
Today, the system is streamlined and general ledger reconciliation is seamless, thanks to Higher Reach by Jenzabar, a leading continuing education software platform.

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.