Category Archives: Paying For College


More Financial Aid + Less Need to Work = More STEM Graduates?

Students who major in the sciences often spend more time in out-of-class work—in labs or field research—than other students do. That means less time to earn money while in college, and sometimes it’s the reason financially needy students switch out of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics, the STEM fields.

Would an extra $1,000 a year in financial aid help some of those STEM-inclined students stick with it?

That’s the essence of a new study getting under way next fall at 11 Wisconsin …


3 Things to Know About the Expected Family Contribution and College Affordability

The federal government should slash the Expected Family Contribution, argues an op-ed in Friday’s New York Times by Steve Cohen, co-author of a recent book on admissions and student aid.

Cutting the expected contribution, he suggests, “would force colleges to construct financial-aid packages without the artificial price supports of inflated contribution numbers—and make paying for college less agonizing.”

The Expected Family Contribution, or EFC, is calculated with data families provide on the F…


Affordability Tops Annual ‘Hopes and Worries’ Survey of Applicants

Concerns about paying for college reached an all-time high among respondents to a survey released by Princeton Review Inc. on Tuesday, but 100 percent of them said a college degree would be “worth it.”

In the 2014 “College Hopes and Worries Survey,” 89 percent of respondents reported that financial aid would be “very necessary” to pay college expenses. Among those respondents, 65 percent said it would be “extremely necessary.”

Additionally, respondents’ “biggest worry” changed from previous …


Borrowing Levels Vary Widely by Sector and Degree

$29,400. That’s the average student-loan burden of 2012 graduates of four-year colleges who borrowed.

But averages obscure variation. With that in mind, the New America Foundation released this week a new analysis that looks at how much undergraduates borrowed for different credentials in different sectors over time.

For instance, the rate of borrowing has gone up for both graduates with associate degrees and graduates with bachelor’s degrees since 2003-4, but a larger share of bachelor’s recipi…


Temple U. Program Will Help Students Work Fewer Hours, Graduate on Time

Graduating on time can save students a lot of money. But for cost-conscious students working their way through college, on-time graduation presents a particular challenge. The amount students can earn in a minimum-wage job covers less of tuition than it used to, and many students work long hours.

With that in mind, Temple University announced on Monday a new program that will encourage students to graduate in four years and will reduce the amount of time needy students spend on the job.

Under th…


Want to Define Merit? Good Luck

Los Angeles — All day long they wrestled with the meaning of merit.

On Thursday enrollment officials here discussed the term around which the admissions world revolves. How colleges assess and reward merit shapes the socioeconomic and racial diversity of students at selective colleges. But what, exactly, is merit? Should colleges redefine it? If so, how?

At a conference held by the University of Southern California’s Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice, many speakers agreed that…


Should Colleges Be Able to Limit Students’ Borrowing?

Coconino Community College, in Flagstaff, Ariz., has low tuition: just $87 a credit hour for in-state students. So in 2008, when the federal government raised the amount students could borrow in unsubsidized loans by $2,000 a year, the college’s financial-aid director wasn’t sure that was a good thing for his students.

There was no indication that Coconino students needed larger loans, says Bob Voytek, the aid director. And since the loans had no interest subsidy and came, at the time, with a 6….


Applying for Aid Earlier Would Help Needy Students, Report Says

What if students received their financial-aid packages earlier in the year, giving families more time to prepare to pay for college?

That would be possible if financial-aid eligibility were based on two-year-old tax data, rather than the year-old data used now. A report released on Monday by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators considers the implications of switching to the older data, called “prior-prior year” data. The report, which was supported with a grant from t…


Has the Cost of College Reached a Tipping Point?

Toronto — Almost 150 colleges charged $50,000 or more in tuition, fees, room, and board in 2012-13. That one-year price is pretty darn close to the median household income in the United States. So has the cost of college reached a critical tipping point?

That frequently asked question was the title of a presentation here on Friday at the annual meeting of the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

As people who’ve worked in admissions for a long time will tell you, it’s not a new…


Why Admissions and Financial-Aid Professionals Should Work Together

chrisgeorgeFor many families, college admissions and financial aid are two parts of one process. Yet financial-aid and admissions professionals don’t always understand one another’s work. In a guest post today, Chris George, assistant vice chancellor for enrollment and director of financial aid at the University of Denver, explains why the two groups should work more closely together.

At a regional admission conference this past spring, I learned that the federal government had eliminated the six-month gra…