January 2012 Archives

Students Bear More of College Cost, Increase Focus on Studies

Annual freshman college survey shows students getting better prepared academically.


Experts Advise Doing FAFSA Forms Early for Best Chance of Aid

Although families could start filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on Jan. 1, many put it off. However, with dwindling financial-aid dollars, some institutions and states are doling out awards on a first-come, first-serve basis until funds are depleted. Dates vary by state, but some require students to fill out the FAFSA in February and March. (Click here for a list of deadlines by state.) FAFSA must receive applications no later than June 30. So it's smart to apply now. It's a common misconception to wait until you file your taxes first. Experts say to estimate ...


Obama Outlines Details of College Affordability Proposals

The president is pushing a series of initiatives aimed at pressuring colleges to keep tuition down and making it easier for families to compare financial aid packages.


New Toolkit for Young People on State-by-State Job Prospects

In today's tight job market, young people especially need all the help they can get. A free online toolkit launched Tuesday by the Young Invincibles and the American School Counselor Association has detailed job-market information, including college majors with the lowest unemployment rates by state. Rory O'Sullivan, policy director for Young Invincibles, a Washington-based nonprofit advocating for 18- to 34-year olds, said young people are looking for more career guidance. This fall, the organization released results of a survey that showed eight in 10 young people know that higher education is more important to their generation than their parents', but ...


Obama Calls on Colleges to Rein in Costs, Urges Support for Students

President Obama's focus on college access and affordability in last night's State of the Union Address was welcomed in the higher education community. But his strong language of putting colleges "on notice" to rein in tuition costs left some wondering how that could be achieved in the current economic environment. Just this week, news came out that colleges lost $6 billion in state support, an average of nearly 8 percent in the past year. Yet the president said college shouldn't be a luxury and threatened to decrease federal support for colleges if tuition keeps rising. "We can't just keep subsidizing ...


State Funding for Higher Ed. Drops by 7.6 Percent in a Year

More students than ever are headed to college, but the funds to support them are not following. Total state fiscal support for higher education nationwide declined by 7.6 percent from fiscal year 2011 to FY2012, according to the annual Grapevine survey from the Center for the Study of Education Policy at Illinois State University, a joint project with State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO). Losing $6 billion translated into fewer course offerings and larger class sizes for students. State universities also used more adjunct faculty, froze hiring, and merged academic departments. The cuts occurred in 41 states, ranging from ...


Hope for Imperfect Students in College-Admissions Process

The competitive college-admission process has many high school students in a frenzy over grades, activities, and testing. Jay Mathews' recent column in The Washington Post, 5 Wrong Ideas About College Admission, adds some needed perspective. The myths he spells out give hope to the less-than-perfect student. Mathew's wrong ideas: 1. Colleges are impressed by a lot of extracurricular activities. 2. The more Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes and tests, the better. 3. Every high school grade counts. 4. A student has little chance to get into a top school without an SAT prep course. 5. The harder a college ...


Panel: Strategies to Keep College Aspirations High for All

Ask kids in 8th grade if they plan to attend college, and there is almost universal enthusiasm. Research shows this is true even among low-income students and those who are low performing. But something happens along the way for many that ends the dream. For some, it's academic struggles or the challenge of being a first-generation college student; for others it's lack of money—or some combination of the three. How to help students stay on the college track and finish was discussed at The State of College Access Forum Wednesday, sponsored by National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators...


Financial-Aid Experts Discuss Ways to Strengthen Pell Grants

Student financial-aid experts gathered at a forum at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday to discuss the need to make the 40-year-old federal program more efficient and the importance of providing academic and social supports for students to boost college completion. The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), a Washington-based nonprofit member organization of student financial-aid professionals, hosted The State of College Access 2012 Forum. As part of the event, NASFAA released an issue brief about the role of Pell Grants in access, persistence, and completion. While participants agreed that protecting the maximum Pell Grant award of $5,550 ...


Helping Seniors Figure Out the Right College Fit

Many seniors are feeling relieved that their college applications are in, but for some the toughest part of the process still lies ahead: Making the final decision. Since students send off so many apps these days, they will likely have many offers this spring. Lionel Anderson in The New York Times gives seniors a solid list of factors to consider when choosing a college: from affordability and size, to student life, diversity, and academics. The article is worth reading and passing along to students weighing their options come April....


U.S. Degrees in STEM and Funding Fail to Keep Pace Globally

While developing countries have increased investment in higher education and produced more science and engineering graduates, the United States has reduced funding at major research universities, and American students are not keeping up with degrees in those fields. That information was released today by the National Science Board in the 2012 "Science and Engineering Indicators" report. In 2008, U.S. students earned 4 percent of the world's engineering degrees, while 56 percent were awarded in Asia, including one-third in China. The number of natural-science and engineering degrees in China went from 280,000 annually to 1 million between 2000 and ...


Reaching Out to Help Immigrant Students at Community College

Like many who attend community college, immigrant students often are struggling to pay for college while juggling jobs and families. They also face unique challenges as they learn a new language, adjust to a new culture, and try to navigate the unfamiliar system of the college and community services. To better serve this growing population, the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education issued a report Monday with recommendations and strategies for campus administrators. Much of the expansion of the workforce in the coming years is expected to come from immigrants, and many will turn to community colleges for job training. ...


Connecting With a Mentor as One Route to College Completion

Most people can look back and point to a special person or two who made a difference in their journey to where they are today. Having a mentor can be especially important in college, as students try to figure out their career path, stay focused in school, and get the right experience to prepare them for life beyond campus. Ashton Jafari, 25, and Stephanie Bravo, 26, felt so strongly about the impact that mentors had on their lives that they set up a national network to pair students and professionals. StudentMentor.org was launched two years ago as an online ...


Biden and Duncan Push for Need to Keep College Affordable

Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan went on the road today in Gahanna, Ohio, to talk about the need for colleges to contain costs to keep higher education within reach of everyday Americans. "We have to make sure that going to college stays a fundamental part of the American dream," said Duncan, speaking at Lincoln High School. He outlined efforts by the Obama administration to simplify federal financial-aid forms, increase funding for Pell Grants, improve repayment terms on student loans, and maintain higher education tax credits. "We have to challenge universities to do their part. ...


Essay: Lowering Student Debt Is Everyone's Responsibility

Many are saying the amount of debt that students take on to attend college has become a national crisis. In an essay in Inside Higher Education, Michael Bugeja goes beyond lamenting about the situation to offer concrete steps that everyone can take to reign in the costs of getting a degree. Starting at the top, regents and trustees should be wary of "mission creep" and presidents need to raise money for student scholarships not just pay for new buildings, suggests Bugeja, director of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication at Iowa State University. If provosts are intentional about how ...


Leveraging ACT Data to Improve College & Career Readiness

This month, ACT is offering two free webinars to help educators better use data from ACT assessments to improve students' college and career readiness. For more information about the training on Jan. 26, click here....


U.S. News Releases First Review of Online Degree Programs

Today, for the very first time, U.S.News and World Report released rankings for the best online bachelor's and graduate degree programs. To be included in the report, programs had to have at least 80 percent of their course content available online. The online bachelor's degree programs were ranked in three categories: student engagement and assessment, faculty credentials and training, and student services and technology. Master's programs online had similar categories but were reviewed for student engagement and accreditation, rather than assessment. For this first year, programs were not given a numerical ranking for overall program quality. Instead, schools ...


D.C. Considers Making Students Take ACT/SAT, Apply to College

A new way to promote college readiness is being floated in the nation's capital: require all high school students to take the ACT or SAT and apply to at least one college or trade school. That's the latest proposal being discussed in the District of Columbia public school system and introduced by D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown. "I believe that every child should have the opportunity, even if they don't go, to at least apply to a college," Brown was quoted as he introduced the bill last week. He suggested that some D.C. students aren't going to college ...


Colleges Leverage Involvement of Parents in Campus Life

Parents of today's college students were often hyper involved in their kids lives growing up—organizing play dates, coaching from the sports sidelines, and some would say hovering too much over their every decision. It's not surprising, then, that their desire to stay in tune with their children's lives continues into their young adulthood on campus. Rather than being annoyed by meddlesome parents, some colleges are embracing this generation's parental involvement, opening offices of parent relations and forming parent boards. An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education today written by administrators at Bradley University, a private, 6,000-student college...


Student-Aid Groups Welcome Consumer-Protection Leader

Yesterday's recess appointment by President Obama of Richard Cordray to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was applauded by groups that advocate for student financial aid. With a director in place, the bureau can now exercise all its new powers under law. Student groups hope this means improving practices surrounding private student loans and credit cards and debit cards issued on campuses. US PIRG, a Washington-based nonprofit, issued a press release that calls the move a bold step to protect student consumers from financial tricks and traps. "Every year, students graduate owing tens of thousands of dollars before they've ...


Majors Matter in Job Prospects for Recent College Graduates

Americans with a college education fare better in the job market than those with just a high school diploma or less—but just how much better depends on their field. A new report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce released today finds unemployment for recent college graduates is 8.9 percent, compared with 22.9 percent of job-seekers with just a high school education and 31.5 percent among high school dropouts. Looking more deeply, the analysis finds that choice of major matters. Majors that are more closely aligned with particular occupations and industries tend to have...


Free Application for Federal Student Aid Opens for 2012-13

With college applications mostly done, now high school students can turn their energy to how to pay for school. January 1 was the first day that families could fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. To get started, gather the following documents: Social Security card; driver's license; 2011 W-2 forms and other records of money earned; 2011 Federal Income Tax Return and any untaxed-income records; bank statements; current business and investment mortgage information, business and farm records, stock, bond, and other investment records; and if you are not a U.S.citizen, your alien registration or permanent resident ...


Most—But Not All—Colleges Roll Out Net-Price Calculators

Despite a new federal requirement that colleges have a "net price calculator" on their websites, 272 institutions have yet to comply, and some calculators are hard to find. The assessment is provided by NetPriceCalculator.info, a new McLean, Va.-based company that tracks compliance with the mandate in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 that went into effect on Oct. 29, 2011. Its website has a searchable database to link students to individual school calculators. Any postsecondary institution that participates in Title IV federal student-aid programs and enrolls full-time, first-time degree- or certificate-seeking undergraduate students must post a net-price ...


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