Category Archives: Paying For College

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Breakaway Group Seeks ‘Retro Common App’

When a bandwagon becomes crowded, passengers get antsy. “The more the merrier” might sound good at first, but as popularity grows, the load has a way of weighing down the wheels. Sooner or later, a new bandwagon comes along.

Perhaps that’s a useful way of thinking about the latest news from the college-admissions realm. As The Chronicle first reported on Friday, a group of highly selective colleges is exploring the possibility of creating a shared application that students could use to apply to …

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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…

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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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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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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…

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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 …