Category Archives: Federal Pell Grants

FAFSA with use 2 year old tax data.

President Changes FAFSA to Give Families Better College Affordability Information.

This change in the FAFSA start-date starting on October 1st 2016, along with the recently announced College Scorecard system, are game changing aids for families with college-bound children.

All at once, families will have the information they need to make college lists that are actually affordable for their financial circumstances. The College Scorecard is a complementary tool that will allow a family to use their actual federal financial aid eligibility to compare school costs before their student applies.

Never before has this been possible, and it makes me wonder why the college financial aid system ever got to the point where students were applying blindly to schools they could not afford if they were accepted. When you think about it, that’s pretty much the definition of a disfunctional system. Hate to put it so bluntly, but there you have it.

There has been a lot of fear on the part of institutions of higher education everywhere. Changing the FAFSA start-date encountered a lot of political push-back. It took a lame-duck president, looking for legacy, to pull the plug on this systemic bottleneck.

This change will cause a rapid re-examination of business plans in colleges across the country. Recruitment, budget cycles, processing aid applications and issuing awards all must happen a lot earlier.

At this time we are in the one year countdown. Next year on October 1, 2016, if all goes well, the very first “early” FAFSA applications will be filed.

Will the FAFSA-only colleges be ready? There could be a tsunami of applicants, many of whom had never considered filling out the FAFSA because of it’s complexity. There might be a lot more Pell Grant recipients, who knows? The whole FAFSA system may slow down or even malfunction (like you know what!) under the weight of applications. But, in the long run processes will smooth themselves out. Meanwhile college students will be making “aid aware” college choices that might keep the Student Loan Monster at bay!
But still, the question remains: why did we, the parents, allow such a crazy system to persist for so long? Hmmmm….

For-Profit College Companies Running Charter Schools?

Watch my video to refresh your knowledge of for-profit college companies! Then get a load of their newest business venture: charter schools!

A “little trouble” with the feds can’t stop for-profit college companies from continuing to feed at the public trough! Some of the biggest for-profit college chains have come under federal scrutiny recently. They did not fare well. Several have been told to cease operations for defrauding students. Others have been told to adhere to tougher student achievement standards in order to stay open. And still more are being monitored for their higher-than-usual student loan default rates.

So what would you expect of these huge companies whose business model is to enroll low income students in their colleges, just to gain access to federal education funding, like Pell grants and Student Loans? Would you expect them to just pack up their bags and leave quietly? Well…no.

Sure enough, just like Whack-a-Mole, they’re back with a business model that is not brand-new, but is just now ripe for the picking. How about charter schools? Yes, for-profit education companies have crept their way into the public school systems of many states. Their new name is Education Management Organization or EMO.

Sure, I know, we all think of charter schools as being run by well-meaning non-profit 501(c)(3) corporations. Charter schools are supposed to provide alternatives for students in poorly performing schools, courtesy the state and federal taxpayers.

The only trouble is that many of the non-profit corporations that were originally formed to run these charter schools started needing help with the day-to-day operations of the schools. The non-profits started hiring the EMO’s to run the schools. And while the duties started small at first, the EMO’s were later asked to take over just about everything, student education included!

Oh, and guess what? The for-profit EMO’s wanted to MAKE A PROFIT! Can you believe it? Just one little problem: taxpayers who thought they were providing additional school choice for students in failing schools, now find themselves supporting the bottom line of for-profit companies.

Looks like we’ll be needing some stronger oversight regulations pretty soon. What do you think?

For-Profit College Companies stay alive by running charter schools!
Okay, the For-Profit College companies just want to make a profit. What’s the big deal? Read and decide.

Become a For-Profit College Detective!

If you wanna go, you gotta know! Don’t get ripped off in the pursuit of a degree.

Thank goodness for IPEDS, the data bank of collegiate information that was created by congress some years ago. All schools have to report certain categories of information every year to this slow-moving federal behemoth (it’s about 3 years behind, but who’s counting!) Without IPEDS and a Department of Education website called College Navigator this information would not be very accessible for the public. In my video this week, I show how to use this information to detect whether an online for-profit college is doing a good job or not before a potential student makes the decision to attend it. We are in a major shake-up of the for-profit college industry (and believe me it IS an industry) and with some luck only the righteous will survive. Some of the biggest BIGS are going down in flames even as I write. Ha HA! We shall see. Meanwhile, let the buyer beware!

FAFSA News Sparks Snark

In a google search for FAFSA news, one of the recently published search items is a story from a New Jersey newspaper’s website titled “FAFSA confusion: College students lose financial aid due to decimal point error on application”.

Apparently, at least 165,000 college students stumbled over a quirk in the on-line FAFSA application which caused them to declare that their family’s income was WAY bigger than it actually was.

The little “.00” outside the blanks where a student fills in the family’s income is a hint that you need to round off the income total to the nearest dollar, rather than enter the small change in the blank space allowed. For example, a student declaring a family income of $22,852.19 would actually be telling the government that the family raked in $2,285,219 that year! OOPS!

That student would find herself excluded from most, if not all, federal financial aid. This would include federal grants like the Pell Grant, federal student loans with favorable rates and terms, and federal work-study funds set aside for students with lower family incomes.

According to this article, Federal officials say they will correct the aid awards if/when the errors are found. So nice, so civilized.

It’s when the reader scrolls down to the comments that the fun begins.

The vitriol rolls out thusly:

“If they can’t follow simple instructions, maybe they aren’t college material.”

“Apparently millions of college students can read…and apparently 165,000 others cannot.”

“I would think due to the importance of this form, one would check it over before actually filing it.”

“Hope the applicants were not math, science or engineering majors!”

And it goes downhill, rapidly, from there.

I love the comment sections of news stories. Without them there would be a whole lot more pent-up anger in America than there already is!

To read this for yourself (or even to add your own snark ration) click this link:

http://www.nj.com/education/2014/07/fafsa_confusion_college_students_lose_financial_aid_due_to_decimal_point_error_on_application.html

To get ready for the FAFSA rush starting January 1st of each year, watch my video on the subject: