Why You Should Fill Out the FAFSA ASAP

Why you should fill out the FAFSA ASAP

Spoiler alert: college is really expensive. Begging the government for money can make it more affordable! Such begging is done in the form of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid—FAFSA® for short. In order to maximize the amount of aid you can get, it’s very important that you fill out your FAFSA early.

In my experience, filling out the FAFSA is not super quick and easy. While you can do it in one sitting, it’s a bit of a process. That’s why it’s best to get a solid start on it so you’re not overwhelmed with it just before a deadline. Here are some tips to help you prep for and fill out your FAFSA.

And here’s some info about when you CAN fill out your FAFSA versus when you SHOULD fill out your FAFSA. There can be a big difference!

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Veteran Teacher Shares Hopes for the New Year

Secretary King and senior officials got on the bus and went back to school this week during #OpportunityTour, which visited exemplary PK-12 schools and institutions of higher education and celebrated local ideas and initiatives across several southern states, including Alabama. This week’s edition of Voice from the Classroom brings us perspective from the 2008 Alabama Teacher of the Year, Dr. Pamela Harman.

After teaching for more than 20 years, I can say that everything about a new school year is exciting (except maybe having to wear shoes).

When I was a new teacher, the beginning of the school year intimidated me. I was nervous about both my content knowledge and my pedagogy. So my goals for the year focused on improving my practice and strengthening my teaching skills. I worked to deepen my science content knowledge, and I developed a repertoire of instructional skills and habits of mind necessary to promote my students’ success and capacity for life-long learning. It was difficult for me to push students’ learning because I was still honing the skills I needed to teach and evaluate it.

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Choose a College More Easily with the College Scorecard

Even though my father was a guidance counselor, choosing a college was still an overwhelming process. There were few independent reviews of colleges and no real way of knowing if the information I found was accurate. Unearthing lesser known, high quality colleges outside of my region was tough. It was even tougher to figure out if a college’s students found jobs after graduating or even graduated at all. In short, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

The College Scorecard, called for by President Obama, solves this challenge by giving everyone – students, families, guidance counselors and non-profits – access to a whole host of data verified by the U.S. Department of Education on thousands of institutions across the nation in an easy-to-use online tool. College is still the best investment a person can make in them self—bachelor’s degree-holders earn roughly $1 million more over their lifetimes than high school graduates. The College Scorecard makes choosing between thousands of institutions easier by providing simple to understand information on institutions’ incoming students and the graduating students’ outcomes. Along with 1.5 million other folks, I’m using the Scorecard as I help my daughter in her college search.

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7 Myths About the 2017–18 FAFSA Debunked

7 Myths About the 2017-18 FAFSA Debunked

You might have heard that the next FAFSA® will be available on October 1, 2016 as opposed to January 1, 2017. Well, it’s not a myth! If you (or your child) are planning to go to college during the 2017–18 academic year, you’ll want to make sure you have your facts straight. Check out the 7 myths about the FAFSA below.


MYTH 1:
I used 2015 tax information last year and didn’t get any aid, so it’s pointless to fill out the FAFSA again.

FACT: Not pointless! Your aid award could be different this year.
If you filed a 2016–17 FAFSA and received an award letter from your school, don’t assume that next year’s financial aid award will be the same. We ask you to complete the FAFSA annually because the factors used to calculate your aid could change each year. Things like your year in school, family income, and cost of attendance at your school are just a few factors used to determine your aid. You never know what aid you may get if you don’t complete the FAFSA, so don’t let last year’s award deter you from potential aid you may receive this year. Even if you did not get the Federal Pell Grant last year, you could still be eligible for other types of aid this year. This includes work-study and low-interest loans. Also, many states, schools, and private scholarships require you to submit the FAFSA to be considered for their aid as well.

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25 Community Colleges that Advance Opportunities for Low-Income Students

These public, two-year (community) colleges enroll over 40% low-income students at the school, and have relatively high outcomes for those students. In total, low-income students at these schools averaged at least $30,000 in earnings 10 years after they first enrolled at the school. In addition, over 70% of all borrowers at these schools were successfully repaying their loans three years after they left school. It’s important to know that both the college you select and the program you enroll in can have an impact on your post-college earnings – schools that offer more technical or health programs, or where a lot of students transfer to a four-year college, often have higher earnings. Ask the colleges you are considering attending for more information.

State Community College Share of Low-Income Students  Average Net Price  Percentage Repaying Loans Average Earnings 
California Glendale Community College 41% $3,057 77% $34,800
Connecticut Naugatuck Valley Community College 41% $6,802 75% $34,100
Connecticut Three Rivers Community College 45% $4,044 74% $31,700
Kansas Colby Community College 62% $7,822 80% $30,300
Kansas Manhattan Area Technical College 44% $13,409 78% $35,100
Kansas North Central Kansas Technical College 47% $10,933 72% $35,200
Massachusetts North Shore Community College 46% $8,150 71% $30,900
Massachusetts Quinsigamond Community College 49% $7,221 73% $32,700
Massachusetts Springfield Technical Community College 56% $8,754 73% $31,200
Maine York County Community College 46% $10,266 71% $31,300
Minnesota Minnesota State Community and Technical College 41% $11,684 70% $30,400
Minnesota Ridgewater College 43% $10,402 73% $33,300
Minnesota South Central College 48% $11,757 71% $31,700
Minnesota St Cloud Technical and Community College 45% $9,443 73% $34,400
Missouri State Technical College of Missouri 40% $9,141 83% $39,100
New Jersey Middlesex County College 44% $5,828 77% $38,600
New Jersey Union County College 44% $4,473 71% $33,200
Pennsylvania Community College of Beaver County 42% $8,893 71% $36,700
Pennsylvania Lancaster County Career and Technology Center 56% $11,589 74% $33,900
Pennsylvania Luzerne County Community College 42% $7,121 73% $31,200
Pennsylvania Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology 56% $6,968 76% $33,400
Rhode Island Community College of Rhode Island 47% $6,598 76% $30,300
South Dakota Lake Area Technical Institute 43% $11,403 87% $35,500
South Dakota Southeast Technical Institute 47% $13,644 79% $34,200
Wisconsin Chippewa Valley Technical College 44% $10,111 72% $32,400

Note: These data include only public institutions identified as less-than-four-year schools in IPEDS. In addition, calculations exclude:

  • Institutions that do not appear on the College Scorecard consumer website (e.g., institutions that do not award associate or bachelor’s degrees).
  • Institutions where fewer than 40% of students are Pell Grant recipients.
  • Institutions with fewer than 250 undergraduate degree-seeking students enrolled.
  • Institutions with missing data or small n-sizes on repayment, earnings, or graduation rate.

The list is constructed of the remaining community colleges that have a repayment rate of at least 70 percent and average earnings of at least $30,000 for students in the lowest income category (tercile). Average earnings reflect the average earnings of federal financial aid recipients 10 years after they first enrolled at the institution for the lowest income category. Repayment rate reflects the share of undergraduate student borrowers who had paid down at least $1 of their principal balance at three years after entering repayment. Net price reflects the sticker price, less any grant or scholarship aid, for all federal financial aid recipients at the school. Share of low-income students enrolled reflects the share of undergraduate students at the school who received Pell Grants. While the share of undergraduate students who received Pell Grants in a given year is a measure of the access an institution provides to low-income students, it may not capture all low-income students. Students who are undocumented immigrants or foreign nationals are not eligible to receive Pell Grants, and some low-income students may not have completed the FAFSA to receive federal aid, but those students may have similar financial circumstances to Pell recipients, or may be just on the other side of Pell eligibility, creating a cliff effect. Additionally, in some states (such as California), state financial aid may be sufficient to cover costs at community colleges, in particular; so those students may not seek or receive a Pell Grant.

26 Four-Year Public and Private Colleges with Low Costs and High Salaries

These four-year public and private nonprofit colleges enroll over 40% low-income students at the school, and have good outcomes for those students. All of them boast above-average Pell enrollment, an affordable net price, and good graduation rates for their students (including their low-income students). That’s important, because graduating from college has been shown to lead to higher earnings, lower unemployment, and a lower likelihood of defaulting on their loans.

The Department of Education highlighted these schools in its recent report, Fulfilling the Promise, Serving the Need, which identified institutions that were doing well in enrolling and graduating low-income students.

College State Share of Low-Income Students Enrolled Average Net Price Graduation Rate Typical Earnings 
Agnes Scott College Georgia 44% $18,517 73% $38,800
Blue Mountain College Mississippi 56% $9,284 48% $29,200
California Baptist University California 48% $27,813 57% $40,300
California State University-Stanislaus California 60% $6,759 53% $43,400
Converse College South Carolina 44% $18,163 61% $31,200
CUNY Bernard M Baruch College New York 44% $6,841 66% $54,900
Florida International University Florida 56% $11,845 53% $43,700
Georgia State University Georgia 52% $15,853 53% $40,800
Howard University District of Columbia 48% $23,191 60% $46,000
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Massachusetts 46% $14,884 54% $34,800
Mills College California 50% $25,161 67% $39,000
Monmouth College Illinois 42% $16,661 57% $39,500
Rutgers University-Newark New Jersey 52% $12,497 67% $54,500
Salem College North Carolina 58% $14,669 65% $31,900
Spelman College Georgia 48% $34,308 71% $46,000
Spring Arbor University Michigan 45% $17,194 55% $38,100
The Sage Colleges New York 49% $16,521 58% $38,900
University of California-Irvine California 45% $12,771 86% $54,500
University of California-San Diego California 40% $14,136 86% $59,000
University of Illinois at Chicago Illinois 51% $13,811 58% $51,100
University of La Verne California 45% $22,696 59% $50,200
University of Michigan-Dearborn Michigan 43% $12,227 51% $45,600
University of North Carolina at Greensboro North Carolina 44% $12,186 56% $36,000
University of Pittsburgh-Bradford Pennsylvania 44% $16,811 52% $48,800
Western Illinois University Illinois 44% $17,988 55% $41,100
William Carey University Mississippi 65% $16,740 60% $34,700

Typical earnings reflect the median earnings of federal financial aid recipients 10 years after they first enrolled at the institution. Net price reflects the sticker price, less any grant or scholarship aid. Graduation rate reflects the share of first-time, full-time students at the school who completed within six years. For schools where Education Trust was able to collect data, we also used the graduation rates of first-time, full-time Pell Grant recipients at the school to identify the institutions. While the share of undergraduate students who received Pell Grants in a given year is a measure of the access an institution provides to low-income students, it may not capture all low-income students. Students who are undocumented immigrants or foreign nationals are not eligible to receive Pell Grants, and some low-income students may not have completed the FAFSA to receive federal aid, but those students may have similar financial circumstances to Pell recipients, or may be just on the other side of Pell eligibility, creating a cliff effect. Additionally, in some states (such as California), state financial aid may be sufficient to cover costs at community colleges, in particular; so those students may not seek or receive a Pell Grant. More information is available in Appendix A of the Department of Education report.

 

Find a Community College in Your State with High Salaries

These public, two-year (community) colleges have the highest earnings of any community college in the state. Note that earnings might vary significantly depending on the program you study – for instance, some of these schools offer a large number of technical or health programs that tend to be higher-earning majors. Students who transfer to a four-year college and graduate with a bachelor’s degree may also earn more after college. Ask the colleges you are considering attending for more information.

State Community College Typical Earnings Average Net Price
Alabama Jefferson State Community College $29,400 $9,207
Alaska AVTEC-Alaska’s Institute of Technology $33,500 N/A
Arizona Chandler-Gilbert Community College $39,700 $8,536
Arkansas Arkansas State University-Beebe $36,300 $6,859
California Foothill College $43,800 $4,640
Colorado Arapahoe Community College $35,600 $9,238
Connecticut Naugatuck Valley Community College $34,100 $6,802
Delaware Delaware Technical Community College-Stanton/Wilmington $34,000 $7,575
Florida Hillsborough Community College $32,400 $5,368
Georgia Gwinnett Technical College $33,400 $5,034
Hawaii Kapiolani Community College $34,100 $4,415
Idaho North Idaho College $29,600 $7,945
Illinois Oakton Community College $36,600 $5,959
Indiana Ivy Tech Community College $29,400 $7,186
Iowa Northwest Iowa Community College $37,200 $11,257
Kansas Johnson County Community College $35,800 $7,534
Kentucky Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College $31,100 $6,079
Louisiana Baton Rouge Community College $32,600 $7,625
Maine Southern Maine Community College $35,400 $11,232
Maryland Montgomery College $40,700 $8,381
Massachusetts Massachusetts Bay Community College $37,400 $12,347
Massachusetts Quincy College $37,400 $12,122
Michigan Schoolcraft College $31,000 $4,650
Minnesota Anoka Technical College $38,600 $13,961
Mississippi Northeast Mississippi Community College $28,300 $5,887
Missouri State Technical College of Missouri $37,500 $9,141
Montana Highlands College of Montana Tech $40,600 $9,177
Nebraska Southeast Community College Area $34,900 $7,503
Nevada Truckee Meadows Community College $32,100 $7,148
New Hampshire NHTI-Concord’s Community College $38,000 $17,162
New Jersey County College of Morris $38,400 $7,219
New Mexico University of New Mexico-Taos Campus $34,900 $9,937
New York SUNY Westchester Community College $37,400 $6,068
North Carolina Wake Technical Community College $31,600 $9,586
North Dakota North Dakota State College of Science $41,300 $10,573
Ohio Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute $42,900 $18,333
Oklahoma Oklahoma City Community College $32,200 $6,916
Oregon Portland Community College $34,200 $8,552
Pennsylvania Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology $38,900 $6,968
Rhode Island Community College of Rhode Island $29,400 $6,598
South Carolina University of South Carolina-Lancaster $42,200 $9,149
South Dakota Mitchell Technical Institute $37,000 $10,551
Tennessee Nashville State Community College $30,800 $8,246
Texas Lamar Institute of Technology $39,100 $9,498
Utah Salt Lake Community College $36,900 $7,267
Virginia Northern Virginia Community College $40,800 $9,488
Washington Cascadia College $43,700 $10,935
West Virginia West Virginia Northern Community College $24,000 $4,113
Wisconsin Waukesha County Technical College $37,400 $10,481
Wyoming Casper College $34,800 $6,861

Note: These data include only public institutions identified as less-than-four-year schools in IPEDS. In addition, calculations exclude:

  • Institutions that do not appear on the College Scorecard consumer website (e.g., institutions that do not award associate or bachelor’s degrees).
  • Institutions that are campuses sharing their earnings data with a four-year college campus (i.e., institutions that share a 6-digit OPE ID).
  • Institutions with fewer than 500 degree/certificate seeking undergraduates.

The list is constructed of the remaining institutions in each state with the highest median earnings. Typical earnings reflect the median earnings of federal financial aid recipients 10 years after they first enrolled at the institution. Net price reflects the sticker price, less any grant or scholarship aid, for all federal financial aid recipients at the school. There are two institutions represented for the state of Massachusetts because two different institutions had the same median earnings in that state, which are the highest among the comparison institutions.

Affordable Four-Year Schools with Good Outcomes

These four-year public colleges offer their students an affordable higher education, with relatively high salaries. As students weigh the costs and benefits of higher education, it’s especially important to find schools that can offer them the best possible outcomes. For students looking for a high return on investment, these institutions may offer good opportunities.

College State Average Net Price Typical Earnings 
California State Polytechnic University-Pomona California $11,085 $50,700
California State University-East Bay California $10,340 $51,200
CUNY Bernard M Baruch College New York $6,841 $54,900
CUNY Queens College New York $5,998 $47,500
Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus Georgia $10,994 $74,500
Iowa State University Iowa $14,100 $47,800
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology New Mexico $11,451 $54,300
San Diego State University California $12,567 $47,400
San Jose State University California $12,862 $53,700
Stony Brook University New York $13,519 $55,000
Texas A & M University-College Station Texas $11,315 $53,900
The University of Texas at Dallas Texas $12,050 $49,700
United States Merchant Marine Academy New York $5,538 $82,000
University of Baltimore Maryland $14,180 $56,500
University of California-Berkeley California $13,707 $60,800
University of California-Irvine California $12,771 $54,500
University of California-Los Angeles California $13,399 $59,600
University of California-San Diego California $14,136 $59,000
University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus Colorado $13,774 $57,400
University of Florida Florida $11,778 $51,100
University of Houston Texas $13,028 $48,900
University of Illinois at Chicago Illinois $13,811 $51,100
University of Maryland-University College Maryland $10,558 $49,900
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill North Carolina $13,243 $51,000
University of Utah Utah $13,874 $49,500
University of Washington-Seattle Campus Washington $13,566 $53,700

Note: These data include only public institutions identified as predominantly four-year institutions by the College Scorecard. In addition, calculations exclude institutions with fewer than 500 undergraduate degree-seeking students enrolled. The list is constructed of the remaining public four-year institutions that fall in the top 25 percent of all predominantly four-year institutions for median earnings 10 years after beginning enrollment and for low net price. Typical earnings reflect the median earnings of federal financial aid recipients 10 years after they first enrolled at the institution. Net price reflects the sticker price, less any grant or scholarship aid, for all federal financial aid recipients at the school. Percentile calculations are derived using institutions’ Unitid as the unit of analysis. List includes only institutions also featured in College Navigator and excludes institutions that are not main campus locations.

Honoring the Nation’s Leading Science and Mathematics Teachers and Announcing Active Learning Day

Cross-posted from the White House blog.

Today the White House honored the 213 newest recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). Yesterday, these teachers, from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity, received their awards – the Nation’s highest honor for mathematics and science teachers – at a ceremony hosted by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and featuring the President’s Science Advisor, Dr. John Holdren.

Dr. John Holdren speaking the PAEMST ceremony on September 8, 2016. (Credit: NSF)

Dr. John Holdren speaking the PAEMST ceremony on September 8, 2016. (Credit: NSF)

In addition, the teachers met with U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, who congratulated the teachers for their ongoing commitment to supporting students from all background to participate in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning.

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Empowering Students Through Nutrition This School Year

Healthy meals can lead to success during the school year. (Photo courtesy USDA)

Healthy meals can lead to success during the school year. (Photo courtesy USDA)

Reading, writing, and arithmetic aren’t the only things our nation’s children will be learning this school year!

Schools have made major strides in helping students learn the importance of healthy eating through balanced meals and nutrition education. Now that kids and teens are boarding their buses for another school year, the entire school community has the opportunity to build on that momentum by continuing to increase access to nutritious meals and encourage healthy habits.

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The Arts for All Students in All Content Classes

Acrylic paint, sidewalk chalk, and calligraphy pens are staples of my English class. These items, along with reciting poetry and acting out scenes from plays allow my students to communicate through a variety of mediums, and to integrate their creative capabilities into their everyday learning.

In 2001, I walked into my 6th grade classroom ready to share my love of reading and writing. However, I soon discovered that my students were in need of much more than an enthusiastic teacher with an English degree. I needed to engage them and make them want to learn.

Stacey Dallas Johnston incorporates the arts in her English classes. (Photo courtesy of the author.)

Stacey Dallas Johnston incorporates the arts in her English classes. (Photo courtesy of the author)

My students that year struggled with the basics of reading and writing. Many had already decided that they hated school, and could already be labeled as chronic absentees. Instead of teaching Shakespeare, I was struggling to keep students engaged. I too struggled that year. It took a few months, but The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster was the gateway into exploring the arts. We broke the story into parts and acted it out, we made 3D models and we wrote poems as the main character. It was a start.

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Counselors: 5 Creative Ways to Help with the Financial Aid Planning Process

Student and a counselor at College Depot, Phoenix Public Library.

Student and a counselor at College Depot, Phoenix Public Library.

This past spring, I had the pleasure of traveling out to Phoenix, Arizona to meet with various counselors, mentors, and college access professionals to learn more about how they are getting ready for the upcoming FAFSA season. With the FAFSA launching earlier this year on October 1, many of you have started to organize events and prepare to help students and parents through the financial aid process. As a former college counselor, my biggest piece of advice to you is to familiarize yourself with the Financial Aid Toolkit. It is a goldmine of information that can help answer many of your questions and assist with your financial aid planning process. Also, here’s some advice from a few of our key partners on how to make this process fun and exciting.

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