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Tips for filling out the FAFSA as a first-generation college student

The Christian Science Monitor – Devon Delfino

“Being a first-generation college student is a big deal and a huge opportunity. You’ll be the first person in your family to experience the lighter side of college — like experimenting with ill-advised late-night dining options — as well as the more serious ultimate goal: getting a degree. Navigating the college experience is hard enough as it is, but many first-gen students face an even steeper uphill battle: English may not be spoken at home, parents may be working long hours, or affordable tutoring programs may not have been available. Those who do attend college may face higher dropout rates and take longer to graduate. According to the Pell Institute, about 11% of low-income, first-generation students who entered college in 2003 received a bachelor’s degree within six years, compared with 54% of non-low-income, non-first generation students who did.”(more)

As More Parents Expect Students to Pay for College Costs, Need for Financial Literacy Grows

Education World – Nicole Gorman

“A fifth annual survey from Discover Student Loans reveals that parents are increasingly expecting their children to take financial ownership of higher education costs…Danny Ray, president of Discover Student Loans notes…“With an increase in responsibility comes the need to be prepared, and we encourage families to have discussions early and often on how to pay for college,” he said. This also brings into discussion the need for financial literacy education in America’s classrooms. Because most states do not require that financial literacy be taught in schools, most students never have the option to learn money management skills and financial responsibility before taking out their first student loans…Young adults are aware that they could benefit from financial literacy courses. Last week, a survey from the National Financial Educators Conference found that above any other subject, students think that a money management course would be the most beneficial to their lives.”(more)

Making College More Affordable for More Americans & Improving College Choice

U.S. Dept. of Education – Staff Writer

“The President’s blueprint unveiled last September aims to make it easier to get federal student aid by streamlining the process of submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®)….Filling out the FAFSA—at no cost—opens the door for students to receive potentially thousands of dollars in federal aid. Yet each year, about two million Pell-eligible students do not fill out the FAFSA—and millions more may have enrolled in college had they known that aid were available. To further streamline and simplify the FAFSA, the President announced a plan that will allow students and families to apply for financial aid earlier—starting in October, as the college application process gets underway—rather than in January…Learning about financial aid eligibility earlier in the college application and decision process will enable students and families to determine the true cost of attending college—taking available financial aid into account—and make more informed decisions as they are searching for, applying to, and choosing colleges.”(more)

A College Education Costs Even More Than You Thought It Did

NPR Ed – Byrd Pinkerton

“We all know that American college education isn’t cheap. But it turns out that it’s even less cheap if you look at the numbers more closely. That’s what the Wisconsin HOPE Lab did. The lab, part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, conducted four studies to figure out the true price of college. To get a sense of student realities, researchers interviewed students on college campuses across the state of Wisconsin. But they also examined 6,604 colleges nationally and compared their costs with regional cost-of-living data from the government. The researchers found that college life is more expensive than sticker prices might suggest, and that financial aid doesn’t help students as effectively as it could, especially after the first year.”(more)

Financial Aid 101: Earlier FAFSA Provides More Time To Line Up Tuition

NPR – Anjuli Sastry

“High school students nationwide are filling out college financial aid forms — and it’s not just seniors this year. Some changes are on the horizon to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. For one, the form can be submitted much earlier. One student capitalizing on the early deadline is Isaac Horwitz-Hirsch, a junior at Santa Monica High School. But Horwitz-Hirsch and his parents, Joshua Hirsch and Ruth Horwitz have found that the new changes to the FAFSA are hard to understand. “The financial aid part is really confusing,” Horwitz-Hirsch says. The family earns a middle class income and they made certain financial decisions before they knew about the new, earlier FAFSA deadline.”(more)

5 Ways Parents Hurt Their Kids’ Chances For A Scholarship

The Huffington Post – Ann Brenoff

“With college applications submitted and decisions trickling in, most parents are now focused on the scholarship phase — how to actually pay for things. A H/T to Tyler Hakes, marketing director of CollegeRaptor, for these tips on what some parents may be doing wrong.”(more)