Tag Archives: cost of college

The world sure has changed a lot over the last thirty years, hasn’t it? I remember the absolute thrill of the earliest days of video games, when playing Pong or Space Invaders represented the cutting edge of fun. Yet, my son’s PS 4 renders games in real time with all the cinematic realism of feature films. If we recognize on a daily basis the quantum leaps technology makes every 18 months or so, why do we cling to a view of college that still resembles higher ed in the 20th century? Everything we think we know about college–from applying to attending to paying for the privilege–is changing at a rate that even professionals cannot keep up with. Believe me, I know. Every week, I speak with counselors, educations, and admissions professionals who study higher education from every angle. We all observe a lot more misinformation and myths than actual facts.…

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Is any aspect of college admissions more mystifying than the determination of financial aid? The concept of “need” and how different schools consider need in both admissions and aid decisions goes deeper than most people realize. For clarity to the topic of need blind and need aware admissions, I turned to college consultant Jona Jacobson. Jona Jacobson is an independent educational consultant based out of Rochester, NY who coaches students on choosing colleges and completing their college applications and essays. A former attorney and substitute teacher, Jona is in her ninth year of advising students and families through the college application process, both locally and nationally. What are five things you will learn in this episode? What do the terms “need,”  “need blind,” and “need aware” mean in college admissions? What is gapping? Do all colleges meet 100% of need? Does need or the lack thereof influence admissions decisions? What does it…

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Considering all the lives, livelihoods, and opportunities that COVID-19 has taken from us so far, finding something good that arose out of the pandemic seems too much to ask. However, the global shutdown hurt some industries more than others, which meant 2020 may have been one of the worst years ever for America’s thousands of colleges and universities. The College Stress Test predicted that a surprising number of institutions of higher education were in financial peril this year, and those models didn’t even take the threat of a massive shutdown into account. COVID has been absolutely horrible for most colleges. Many college students–or at least the ones willing and able to enroll in a school that was partially or entirely remote–found an unexpected benefit from the crisis: historically low increases in average published tuition prices. College Board’s annual Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid report usually tells a story…

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Few aspects of the college admissions process cause as much consternation and confusion as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better know as the FAFSA. This document is critical: you need to fill out the FAFSA to get any college financial aid from the federal government in the form of grants, work-study, and low-interest loans from the U.S. Department of Education. What are some fast facts worth knowing about the FAFSA? Filling out the FAFSA is free. The FAFSA isn’t just used by the federal government. Many states and colleges also use the FAFSA to determine which students get financial aid and how much will be awarded. The FAFSA doesn’t focus solely on the applicant but also requires information a family’s finances, including tax returns. The FAFSA needs to be filled out every year. Of course, fast facts can only tell you so much. This topic deserves as much…

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I am–at least today–a proud alum of a public university. Actually, back when I was submitting college applications, a state school was the farthest thing from my mind, an afterthought at the suggestion of my guidance counselor. Good thing I did, because while I was accepted to the Ivies on my list, I couldn’t afford them! Luckily, SUNY Stony Brook offered me a quality education at a rate I could pay through work and reasonable loans. Not to say that anyone can put himself through college by delivering Chinese takeout anymore, but state schools make a massive positive difference in the trajectory of the lives of hundreds of thousands of students a year. That’s why the NY Times Thursday email newsletter touching on the college money crisis struck home for me: The coronavirus has caused severe budget problems for American higher education. But many colleges’ financial troubles are much larger…

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Financial aid awards from colleges have always, for better or worse, possessed an air of finality about them. Once applicants submitted all their paperwork, they basically had to accept whatever thin gruel of grants, loans, and work study a school deigned to offer, need be damned. Only rarely did applicants appeal their financial aid, and more rarely still did those appeals elicit further funding. At least, that’s how college financial aid used to work… The year 2020, if you haven’t noticed, ushered in what can be fairly described as a higher ed apocalypse. In February, The College Stress Test was published, wherein the authors constructed a stress test for estimating the market viability of more than 2,800 undergraduate institutions and concluded that 10 percent or so of the nation’s colleges and universities faced substantial market risk. Around the same time, I interviewed past president of NACAC Patrick O’Connor about the…

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