Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Follow-Up: Show Me the Money!

Financial aid is on every family's mind right now as they consider various proposals from different colleges in anticipation of making that final decision.  I wrote about scholarship and merit-aid considerations in a previous blog post.  A few more articles have come to light this week that I would recommend sharing with your students and families as food for thought:
  • In the New York Times' The Choice blog, they have been taking questions this week from students and families and posing them to a financial-aid expert.  Part one takes on questions about changes to Pell grants and student loans, information required as part of the FAFSA, and the value of the National Merit Scholar program.  In part two, negotiating financial aid awards after early-admissions, verifying information on the FAFSA, and capital gains tax counting as income are discussed.  
  • The debate about student loans continues.  The questions center around whether to keep federal student loans interest rates down, lower the percentage of the expected monthly repayment from 15% to 10% of a person's income, and allowing loan forgiveness after 20 years instead of 25.

  • For some of the basics as to what the terms mean in financial aid-speak to tips on getting more money, check out US News and World Report's Financial Aid 101 page.
  • Once families and students have those award packages, it can often be difficult to determine what is grant money (scholarships and money that does not have to be paid back) versus loans, work study, etc.  With the loans, are they federal loans or private?  Subsidized or unsubsidized?  This article sheds some light on the mystique but also lays out the facts and figures of how much debt students often end up with as well as how unprepared many are when they see the total at the end.
  • Finally, why do the costs of college continue to rise?  This article believes that as state and federal funding have decreased at public colleges and universities nationwide, the cost has been shifted to students and families.

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