All posts by Beckie Supiano

by

How 4 Types of Families Approach Paying for College

The overwhelming majority of current students and their parents see college as an investment in the future. That unsurprising finding appears in Sallie Mae’s annual “How America Pays for College” report, which was released on Thursday.

Families may agree college is an investment, but it’s one they approach with different priorities and varying degrees of preparation. For the first time, this year’s report divides families into four “personas” based on an analysis of their responses to surv…

by

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…

by

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…

by

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.

by

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…

by

Applying for Aid May Be a Barrier for Returning Students, Too

Researchers have known for years that applying for financial aid is a hurdle on the path to college. So there’s been a big push to get more high-school seniors to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, knows as the Fafsa, which is used to determine aid eligibility by the federal government as well as many states and colleges.

Students have to refile the Fafsa annually, but much less attention has been paid to how the application process works after the first year. A new paper, “Here …

by

Still Shopping for a College? This List Is for You

If this year is like the last few, the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s annual “College Openings Update” will be trotted out as one more piece of evidence that American higher education is in crisis.

The update, formerly known as the “Space Availability Survey,” is a list of colleges belonging to the association that are still accepting freshmen or transfer applicants, or both, for the fall. It was released on Tuesday and will be updated by the association, known as NACAC,…

by

How ‘Undermatching’ Shapes Students’ College Experience

“Undermatching,” the phenomenon in which students enroll at less-selective colleges than their academic qualifications suggest they could have attended, is a hot topic in higher-education research. Among the topics studies have examined so far: how common undermatching is, its effect on graduation rates, and a low-cost way to change where high-achieving, low-income students apply to and enroll in college.

A paper scheduled to be presented on Friday at the American Educational Research Associatio…

by

How One University Is Increasing Its International Enrollment

Denver — International students have long come to North Carolina State University for its graduate programs, where they account for about a third of the enrollment. At the undergraduate level, however, they have historically made up less than 1 percent of the student body.

The university has been working to change that pattern. During a session here on Wednesday at the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers’ annual meeting, two admissions officials shared what N.C….

by

How a University Overcomes the Challenges of Holistic Admissions

Denver — Fit is a big deal at Brigham Young University, where the admissions office looks for students who share its values academically, socially, and spiritually. To select those students, the university uses a holistic process that three campus officials described here on Monday during a session at the American Association for Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers’ annual meeting.

Each applicant’s file—stripped of its grades and test scores—is evaluated by more than one reader. Re…