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How Colleges Can Help Students Navigate Their Financial Lives

Bryan2Many colleges have started financial-literacy programs in recent years. In a guest post, Bryan Ashton describes a new requirement of students at Ohio State University. Mr. Ashton, assistant director for financial wellness, is scheduled to present on the topic this week at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators’ conference, in Nashville.

Most people agree that students and young adults do not fully understand their own finances. While the notion of writing a check is bec…

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What’s Missing From the Merit-Aid Debate

Nashville — Merit aid has a bad reputation: Critics say that when colleges use it, they reduce the need-based aid available to low-income students.

Jon Boeckenstedt disagrees. For many colleges, merit-based aid is a necessity, he said during a presentation here on Tuesday at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators’ annual meeting. What’s really hurting need-based aid is price increases and imprecise definitions of need, said Mr. Boeckenstedt, associate vice president for…

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Measuring Colleges’ Access and Diversity Efforts

sarahNot only do colleges have different goals when it comes to diversity, they don’t all define the term the same way. That has made one committee’s efforts to develop an index for rating colleges’ commitment to access and diversity a challenge, writes Sarah Pingel in a guest post. Ms. Pingel, a researcher at the Education Commission of the States, is scheduled to speak on this topic at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators’ annual meeting this week.

Can an institution’s…

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How One University Helps Student-Aid Recipients Make Good Choices

Nashville — Duke University is one of a handful of wealthy colleges with very generous student-aid policies. The university is need-blind in admissions and meets admitted students’ full demonstrated need. Its aid awards to the neediest students don’t include any loans, and for even the highest-income students loans are capped at $5,000 a year.

The university’s goal is to minimize student borrowing and ensure that students who do borrow take out the best available loans, Alison Rabil, assistant v…

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Turning Financial-Aid and Admissions Staffs Into an Enrollment Team

Melanie_WeaverTraining admissions and financial-aid staff members to do one another’s jobs can be a challenge, but it can make for a smoother enrollment process for students and their families. In a guest post, Melanie Weaver describes what happened when Ohio Northern University cross-trained its enrollment staff. Ms. Weaver, the university’s director of financial aid, is scheduled to present on the topic this week at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators’ annual meeting, in Nashvil…

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New Research Points to Gaps in Student-Loan Counseling

Nashville — Each year a larger share of new graduates leave four-year colleges with student-loan debt, and the average balance of those who borrowed is higher, too. Student-loan default rates are on the rise. With those trends in motion, questions of how well students understand their debt have taken on new urgency.

Students who borrow through the federal loan programs are required to go through entrance and exit loan counseling. But there hasn’t been much evidence on how well that system works.

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To Help Rural Students, Provide Them With Campus Jobs

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Rural students are an overlooked population with their own needs. In a guest post, Shannon Venezia offers advice on how colleges can better support those students. Ms. Venezia, director of financial aid at Washington State Community College, will present on the topic this week at a session of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators’ annual meeting, in Nashville.

Despite its name, Washington State Community College is located not in Washington State but in the historic t…

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What Is This Assessment Telling Me to Do?

College-entrance examinations give students a score—bravo, kid, you got a 1400!—and not much else. But a new wave of low-stakes assessments offers them guidance.

“Actionable information,” says Ross E. Markle, one of several representatives of the Educational Testing Service who visited The Chronicle on Thursday.

Mr. Markle, senior research and assessment adviser in ETS’s higher-education division, described the importance of ”noncognitive” attributes—such as a commitment to meeting goals—tha…

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Hampshire College Will Go ‘Test Blind’

Hundreds of colleges are test-optional. Hampshire College is going “test blind.”

On Wednesday the small liberal-arts college announced that it would no longer consider an applicant’s ACT or SAT score in admissions and financial-aid decisions. “If it’s sent, we won’t put it in their files,” said Meredith Twombly, Hampshire’s dean of admissions and financial aid.

Hampshire, in Amherst, Mass., has not required standardized tests since it opened, in 1970, though applicants were told that the admissi…

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Using Text-Message Reminders to Boost Student Persistence

A recent paper found that more than 18 percent of students who received a Pell Grant in their freshman year and earned at least a 3.0 GPA—a group that would seem to have every reason to reapply for aid—failed to do so. Close to half of the members of that group did not return to college for their sophomore year. Even those who did return had lower persistence rates later on than students who had reapplied for aid.

That raised a question: Would encouraging students to reapply for aid increase the…