Higher Education News
Every year, the U.S. Department of Education provides billions of dollars in Federal financial aid to help students enroll in college. Yet too many students—roughly two in five bachelor’s degree-seeking students—leave school with no degree, often leaving them with debt, no job, and a high risk of default. In recent years, the Department has made strides toward improving these odds, yet more work remains.
To identify the most promising ways to improve postsecondary outcomes, researchers and policymakers need transparency into the data collected from Federal Student Aid (FSA) programs. That’s why the Department has taken significant steps to ensure more and better data are available. And it’s why today, we are announcing additional efforts to support responsible data access and transparency of information about higher education, while supporting borrower privacy and data security.
- Expanding Researcher Access to Student Aid Data: Researchers can provide critical insights about student loan repayment, including answering questions about the best ways to help struggling borrowers stay on track to repay their loans. Today, the Department is announcing a roadmap to support researchers in accessing appropriately protected student aid data for these kinds of studies. That includes partnering with the Federal Reserve Board through an Advancing Insights through Data pilot project to study student loan repayment plan selection and the relationships between income-driven repayment plans and outcomes like student loan defaults.We’re also working with researchers to better understand their needs and inform the creation of a privacy-protected, public-use microdata file from the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) that can facilitate valuable research and other studies of higher education. By October 2017, we plan to have conducted researcher engagement and announced the outcome of those discussions, including the necessary steps and time required to create this file.
- Clarifying Permissible Uses of Financial Aid Data for Program Evaluation and Research: The rules for using data within an institution are complex, and both colleges and researchers sometimes lack clarity on how they can use data to improve student outcomes while protecting students’ privacy. That’s why today, the Privacy Technical Assistance Center released guidance that clarifies the ways in which colleges and universities can use Federal student financial aid information for program evaluation and research purposes.
- Continuing Efforts to Ensure Transparency: Already, we’ve worked to increase the collection and sharing of useful information, through the Department’s Office of Postsecondary Education, FSA, and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). We’ve built a rich base of data on the student loan portfolio and institutions through the FSA Data Center and created user-friendly tools like the College Scorecard and the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet to put information in the hands of students.We’re also supporting existing efforts to expand data use and evidence about what works. NCES recently announced plans to implement the 2017-18 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, Administrative Collection (NPSAS: 18-AC), a new financial aid data collection that will allow researchers to examine nationally representative financial aid estimates on a 2-year cycle instead of the current 4-year cycle. Additionally, NCES anticipates that the new study will have representative samples from most States, allowing researchers to generate State-representative financial aid estimates for comparative purposes. And we plan to continue our work to support evidence-based policies and practices with a commitment to supporting the work of the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking, which was established with bipartisan congressional support last year to create a strategy for increasing the use of data to build better evidence about taxpayer-funded programs.
Better outcomes for postsecondary students can mean huge differences for students, offering them the opportunity to earn personal fulfillment and career success. Our continued commitment to increasing transparency will support evidence-based and data-driven practices that can help all students reach those goals.
Lynn Mahaffie is delegated duties of Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education.
The post More Transparency in Higher Education Will Help Improve Student Outcomes appeared first on ED.gov Blog.
Having one child who is heading to college can be stressful, but having to help multiple children at the same time can feel like too much to manage. While I can’t save you from a forgotten application deadline or the “how to do your own laundry” lessons, hopefully, I can help make the financial aid part of the process run more smoothly with these tips:How many FSA IDs will my children and I need? How many FAFSAs do we have to complete?
An FSA ID is a username and password combination that serves as your legal electronic signature throughout the financial aid process—from the first time your children fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid ( FAFSA®) until the time their loans are paid off. You AND each of your children will need your own FSA ID. Parents and students can create their FSA IDs here.
Each of your children will need to fill out a FAFSA. Your children will also need to provide your (parent) information on their 2017–18 FAFSA unless they are going to graduate school, were born before January 1, 1994, or can answer “yes” to any of these questions.
Example: You have three children who are going to or who are in college. You’ll need four FSA IDs—one for you as the parent (only one parent needs an FSA ID) and one for each child. You’ll need to fill out three FAFSAs, one for each child.Can I transfer my information from one child’s FAFSA to another so I don’t have to re-enter it?
Yes! Once your first child’s FAFSA is complete, you’ll get to a confirmation page. On the confirmation page, you’ll see a hyperlink that says, “transfer your parents’ information into a new FAFSA.” Make sure you have your pop-up blocker turned off and click that link.
TIP: If you want the process to go as smoothly as possible, your second child should have his/her FSA ID handy so you’re ready for the next step.
You’ll then see the alert below confirming that you want to transfer your information to another FAFSA.
Once you click “OK,” a new window will open allowing your other child to start his or her FAFSA. We recommend that your child starts the FAFSA by entering his or her FSA ID (not your FSA ID) using the option on the left in the image below. However, if you are starting your child’s FAFSA, choose the option on the right and enter your child’s information.
IMPORTANT: Regardless of who starts the application from this screen, the FAFSA remains the student’s application; so when the FAFSA says “you” it means the student. If the FAFSA is asking for parent information, it will specify that. When in doubt, refer to the left side of the screen. It will indicate whether you’re on a student page (blue) or a parent page (purple).
After you select the FAFSA you’d like to complete and create a save key, you’ll be brought to the introduction page, which will indicate that parental data was copied into your second child’s FAFSA.
Once you reach the parent information page, you will see your information pre-populated. Verify this info, proceed to sign and submit the FAFSA, and you’re done!
NOTE: If you have a third (or fourth, fifth, etc.) child who needs to fill out the FAFSA and provide your information, repeat this process until you’ve finished all your children’s FAFSAs.I have education savings accounts (529 plan, etc.) for my children. How do I report those on the FAFSA?
You report the value of all education savings accounts owned by you, your child, or any other dependent children in your household as a parent investment. (Read “What is the net worth of your parents’ investments?” for more information.) If you have education savings accounts for multiple children, you must report the combined current value of those accounts, even if some of those children are not in college yet or are not completing a FAFSA.
Example: Child 1 and 2 are filling out the FAFSA. Child 3 is in 8th grade. They each have 529 college savings plan accounts in their names.
- Child 1 account balance: $20,000
- Child 2 account balance: $13,000
- Child 3 account balance: $8,000
You would add $41,000 to any other parent investments you’re required to report and input it when asked, “What is the net worth of your parents’ investments?” on each of your children’s FAFSAs.How does having more than one child in college impact the amount of financial aid my children qualify for?
Having multiple children enrolled in college at the same time could have an impact on your children’s eligibility for need-based federal financial aid.
TIP: We often hear about families who choose not to fill out the FAFSA again because they believe that they won’t qualify for grants or scholarships, especially if they did not qualify the previous year. This is a huge mistake, especially if you will have additional children entering college. Read on to learn why.
Cost of attendance (COA) – Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = financial need
Let’s break down this formula:
Cost of attendance: This will vary by school, so if you have two children attending different schools with different costs, their financial need may be different, even if their EFC is the same.
Expected Family Contribution: The information you provide on the FAFSA is used to calculate your child’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is a combination of how much a parent and student are expected to contribute towards the student’s cost to attend college. The EFC is not necessarily the amount of money your family will have to pay for college, nor is it the amount of federal student aid you will receive. It is a number used by your child’s school to calculate how much financial aid he or she is eligible to receive. Since we recognize that a parent’s annual ability to pay doesn’t change as you have more children enroll in college, we divide the expected parent contribution portion by the number of children you expect to have in college.
Example: Let’s assume that all of your dependent children have identical financial information and that the calculated EFC assuming one child in college would be $10,000. Here’s how each child’s EFC would change depending on the number of family members attending college full-time.Number of dependent children in college full-time Each child’s EFC 1 $10,000 2 $5,000 3 $3,333 4 $2,500
Financial need: Please note that schools differ (sometimes greatly) in their ability to meet each student’s financial need. To compare average school costs schools based on family income, visit the CollegeScorecard.ed.gov.
Nicole Callahan is a Digital Engagement Strategist at the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid.
Photo by Getty Images
The post How to Fill Out the FAFSA When You Have More Than One Child in College appeared first on ED.gov Blog.
On Thursday, January 12, thousands of teachers across the nation will receive appreciation phone calls from the Department of Education; these educators were nominated by their colleagues, parents, and students to receive these calls. As a Teaching Ambassador Fellow, I had a chance to read the comments stating why each educator deserved a phone call.
“He has been a beacon of light and hope for my daughter who sometimes struggles but has so much to offer the world. He challenges and educates, but most of all he cares.”
“She is tirelessly dedicated to serving some of the most historically underserved students in our school system, very high needs, minority special education students. She is a true advocate for justice and equity!”
Some nominators addressed their nominees directly:
“You have played one of the greatest roles in my life both as an educator and a friend. The relationship you built with me in sixth grade pushed me to be a hardworking student and always do my best. You were also a big reason for me choosing this career path. I can’t thank you enough for all you have done for me throughout my life.”
Reading these comments was inspirational, but at the same time created a dilemma of approach. Educators often perceive ourselves to be self-sacrificing, self-effacing servants whose good work necessarily goes unnoticed. This perception matches our daily experience, which includes constant attention to youth needing our help, ceaseless problem-solving, recess duty in the cold, and hours without a bathroom break. Teachers will never be free of these demands.
Yet, self-sacrifice and self-effacement are hardly the best approaches to demonstrating our worth. Educators are pillars of society; we support the future. We must articulate our value and share with policymakers and our communities the important, progressive work we are doing in our classrooms every single day. Otherwise, those policymakers and the public will not ever see us as more than sacrificial, invisible worker bees. We have to begin by appreciating ourselves, calling out the positives we see around us, and lifting up each other.
Humility does not serve without a voice, and strategic advocacy does not have to be arrogant. To this end I’m issuing to educators a call to conviction: Cultivate a mindset of professionalism, believe in your own agency beyond your classroom walls. We must start to see ourselves as the builders of society and only then will others follow. We have worked hard for our expertise, our continued development, and the success of future generations. Now is the time to own that amazing work.
At its core, appreciation is a principle rather than an action. And while I look forward to phoning educators for Educator Appreciation Week, I’m even more enthusiastic about demonstrating this conviction from inside my classroom and beyond: the work of educators
Anna E. Baldwin teaches English at Arlee High School on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana. She is a 2016-2017 Teaching Ambassador Fellow as well as the 2014 Montana Teacher of the Year.
For most children, school is their home away from home. There they form friendships, socialize, grow, and learn. Children and their families rely on teachers, principals, and other school staff to nurture and protect them when away from home. And families and educators have a shared responsibility to work together and ensure that schools are safe environments for all, including our youngest and most vulnerable children. We can best meet this responsibility when we have a clear understanding of policies and resources that can support the creation of safe learning environments, and ultimately, children’s development and learning.
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) regularly releases resources to help educators, school administrators, and families to protect and ensure equitable access to education for all children, including our most vulnerable student populations. For example, in the past few years, ED has released several documents that address the needs of immigrant children. One example is the Newcomer Toolkit ED released in September that provided a one-stop shop for educators who serve newcomer students. The toolkit both catalogued resources for meeting the unique socio-emotional and academic needs of these students and highlighted the assets that newcomer students bring to the classroom.
In a continuing effort to inform the community of stakeholders who care for our children and to respond to continuing demand from the field, today ED is releasing a new resource guide for early learning educators and families as a follow-up to a 2015 Resource Guide focused on secondary students.
- The resource guide includes two parts:
- The first half of the resource guide, entitled Resource Guide: Building a Bright Future for All, provides tips for educators in early learning programs and elementary schools as well as schools, districts, and States to (1) facilitate school enrollment by immigrant families; (2) promote healthy child development in the school setting; (3) encourage caregiver engagement in children’s education; and (4) build staff capacity and knowledge about immigrant students and their educational needs.
- The second half of the guide entitled Handbook for Parents, Guardians, & Families: Building a Bright Future for All provides tips for parents and guardians on how to promote and facilitate children’s education from birth and play an active role in helping to ensure their children’s success in school regardless of their own schooling history or context.
Additionally, to respond to questions from the field, ED is also sharing information today about two Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policies that may be of interest to educators, school leaders, and families:
- A “sensitive locations” factsheet for educators and families provides a user-friendly explanation of how DHS policy defines immigration enforcement activity around “sensitive locations,” including schools and school bus stops, as well as other community spaces and social activities.
- In addition, ED is highlighting for teachers that under DHS policy, young people who are in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody should have timely access to educational materials sent by a local education agency, school, school administrator, or individual teacher. Additionally, consistent with applicable rules, these young people should have the opportunity to complete school work and return it to the local education agency, school, school administrator, or individual teacher. This policy can be found on the DHS website Part 2.5 – Funds and Personal Property and questions can be directed to Info@ice.dhs.gov.
Whether at home or at school, as parents or as educators, the foremost issue in our minds is the well-being of our children. By being informed and working together, we can ensure that all children have the educational access they need and deserve to be safe, secure, and happy.
Dana Nerenberg is a Principal Ambassador Fellow at the U.S. Department of Education and Principal of Sitton Elementary School in Portland, and Frances Frost serves as the Family Ambassador, U.S. Department of Education. Find her on Twitter @FamiliesatED.
Let’s state the obvious: 1) Financial aid plays a huge factor in students’ college-going decisions and success (especially low-income students); and 2) Completing the FAFSA is essential for students to access almost all forms of financial aid. So, for a large urban district like DC Public Schools, where 77 percent of our students qualify for free and reduced price lunch, getting graduating seniors to complete their FAFSAs on time isn’t an optional task- it’s a necessary one.
In the fall of 2014, DCPS began a data-driven FAFSA Completion Initiative developed in partnership with our State Education Agency (SEA) and the US Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid Programs Division (FSA). DCPS saw a 3 percentage point increase from year one to year two of effort, and are aiming for an additional 3 percentage point increase this year. Here’s how we made it happen:
- Access FSA’s FAFSA Completion Portal: In 2014, FSA granted SEAs access to student-level FAFSA completion data. Prior to this, we could only measure FAFSA completion by school, which wasn’t granular enough to act on in a meaningful way. DCPS collaborated with our SEA to allow us and school leaders access to the FAFSA portal data, which lets us see exactly which students had completed the FAFSA, and who had submitted the FAFSA with errors (and which ones).
- Make the Data Actionable & Accessible: At DCPS, we often say, “What gets measured, gets done.” Every two weeks, we format the FAFSA portal data into an easy-to-read summary table that we email to all school leaders, staff, and college access providers responsible for FAFSA completion. Here’s a sample, simplified version:
- Goal Setting: In our first year of the Initiative, we didn’t set goals. Big mistake! Our school leaders were eager for goals that were differentiated to their school – ambitious, but realistic. As we set goals, we take into account the school’s prior year graduation, FAFSA completion, and college enrollment rates.
- Follow Up, Follow Up, and More Follow Up: The biweekly email to school leadership with updated completion rates for all schools and the district provides helpful context on their progress compared to peer schools, generates some healthy competition, and serves as a nice prompt for school leaders to log-in to the Portal to see exactly which students have and haven’t completed their FAFSAs. We also follow up directly with schools who are lagging behind, or who have requested a strategy session to improve their completion rates.
- Get District Leadership On Board: Monthly, we share with district leadership a FAFSA completion summary; our leaders are invested in retaining our highest-in-the-nation FAFSA completion rate, and their support matters to the initiative’s success.
- Celebrate Successes: District leaders give shout-outs to schools meeting or exceeding their goals. Schools hold FAFSA completion celebrations. This year, we’re giving #DCPSGoesToCollege t-shirts to students who complete their FAFSA. It’s important to celebrate this milestone on students’ pathway to college.
We’re proud of our DCPS FAFSA Completion initiative, and the partnerships that led to it. What are your districts doing to promote FAFSA completion? Have any thoughts on how we can improve our model? Questions for us? Please share!
Dr. Bibo oversees Career Education, Work-Based Learning, and College Prep Programming for the District of Columbia Public Schools. She earned her Ph.D. in Education Policy from the University of Maryland, College Park and her Master’s in Education Policy from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.
The post What Gets Measured, Gets Done: DC Public Schools’ FAFSA Completion Initiative appeared first on ED.gov Blog.
“So, where are you going to school next year?” Sometimes it feels like this is the only question people ask you. Maybe you’ve been dreaming about a certain university, or maybe you have no idea what you even want to do with your life, let alone where to go to school. Choosing the right program is one of the biggest decisions of your life (no pressure). But before you take the plunge, here are three questions to help you figure out “What’s best for me?”1. Do I know what I want to do with my life?
If you can answer a resounding “Yes!” to this question, I would suggest you stay open to new possibilities. For example, I really thought I wanted to be a psychologist, so I found a great school with a great psychology program. However, after my first semester I realized I liked psychology, but I loved writing and teaching. I switched my major to English Writing & Rhetoric; became a published author; taught at inner-city schools; and now I work for the U.S. Department of Education. My point is you never really know where life will take you. So if you’ve always wanted to be a doctor, great: get into the best program you can—just don’t close yourself off to trying new things.
If you’re not really sure or have no clue, that’s fine; you have options. Start at a university with an undecided major. Looking to save some dough? Knock out a few basic courses at your local community college (this may give you a better indication of what you like and don’t like—just make sure your credits will transfer). Or, you can take some time off and travel or work; some good old-fashioned real-world experience can be a great eye-opener—check out this sweet career search tool for info and inspiration!2. Have I explored all my options?
Maybe you’ve always wanted to go to Harvard; everyone in your family went to Harvard—Harvard is for you! Or is it? Sometimes the school that looks best on paper (or in your head) isn’t the best all-around fit for you. Check out competing programs; look for info like tuition, graduation rate, earning potential, typical total debt, etc.
Also, college is fun. Like FUN!!!! Yes, you’re there to work hard and get an education so you can become a contributing member of society and fulfill your dreams; but college is also a lot of fun. So, think about what type of school might be the best fit for you. Are you all about a big city or a more rural location? Do you dream of a huge campus with tons of people or do you like the idea of a closer-knit community? What about study abroad or certain social groups, organizations, clubs, and sports? These should also be factors you should include in your big decision.
By this point you might be wondering how you’re going to find all this info out and use it to compare various programs. My friends, I give you College Scorecard. This site is designed to help you find schools based on degree, location, and other search criteria. Plus, you can compare schools based on school size, average annual cost, graduation rate, average salary after graduation, etc.
3. How can I afford this?
Start hunting for scholarships and grants. Like YouTube tutorials and social media groups, there are scholarships and grants for almost anything you can think of. Next fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). It’s free, just like the name says, so if you haven’t filled out your FAFSA yet do it now—I mean, finish this blog first—then complete your FAFSA.
Think about what you really want, do your research, look at all your options, and choose the best program for you—after all, it’s your decision.
Jonathan Goodsell is a Management and Program Analyst at the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid.
Photo by Andrew Jones, U.S. Department of Education.
The post Which College Is Right for You? 3 Questions to Ask Yourself appeared first on ED.gov Blog.