It should be mandatory for students to take a financial literacy course before graduating from high school that includes how financial aid for college works. As a high school senior, I remember that the college search process was daunting. I was unaware of how to pay for a college education and in turn ended up applying to institutions that my family couldn’t afford. I even applied for the wrong FAFSA year. Luckily, I ended up attending an in-state public school that was able to offer me a myriad of financial aid options. Some students aren’t as lucky.
Having a basic understanding of financial aid, budgeting, investing, interest rates, loans, and cost would be helpful for both students and families navigating their choices after high school.
I also was unaware of the toll taking out some of these student loans would mean for my future. If students and families are able to understand the limitations of financial aid and what they are able to afford, as well as the alternative transfer pathways to universities and colleges, we also may be able to cure the student loan crisis that plagues our country.
—Joe Franco, Admissions Counselor, University of Washington
Throughout my career I’ve worked with high school and college students in various settings. Most of these experiences have been wonderful and fulfilling. Once, though, I was a part of something I wasn’t proud of. I worked at a for-profit college, advising primarily first-gen students from low-income backgrounds. My job was to help these students with resume writing, interview preparation, and job search techniques. It broke my heart seeing the difficulties these students faced each day—and knowing they were taking out loans when they could get an equal or better education at the local community college without incurring any debt. If I were in charge, I would stop this practice immediately. For-profits need to be eliminated or clamped down on and students with debt from attending these schools that never found legitimate work should have their debt canceled.
—Corey Katz, Director of College Guidance, Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls (NY)
Let’s finally cap merit aid. For at least two decades, we’ve all been asked, “How can you justify the ever-increasing cost of college?” Of course, the answer is that we can’t. Each of us knows that the system isn’t working.
Yet none of us can individually do what we know needs to be done—slow or even reduce the amount of non-need-based aid we give to students. If we do, our competitor colleges and universities will happily enroll the highachieving students.
That is why we need a new regulation: Any college or university that accepts Title IV funds can offer no more than 25 percent of its tuition as a merit-based scholarship. Anything else must strictly be based on the student’s demonstrated need.
Here is what would happen in this dream scenario:
—Teege Mettille, Vice President of Enrollment, Carroll University (WI); and co-host, Admissions Directors Lunchcast podcast
I would establish a statewide policy that non-US citizen students who have graduated from a North Carolina public high school have the right to in-state tuition for community college.
North Carolina has an incredible community college system. Unfortunately, each year, hundreds of qualified and willing students are unable to access these colleges’ classes and programs because tuition is prohibitively expensive. For residents, community college tuition is a maximum of $1,216 per semester, while students designated as nonresidents pay $4,288 for the same classes.
On top of this, the Pell Grant, which currently maxes out at $6,495, is unavailable to students who are not US citizens or eligible noncitizens. It’s a double-whammy of increased cost and lack of access to funding that is curtailing the potential of too many incredible students every single year.
—Amanda Miller, College Planner, Financial Aid Specialist and Tutor at The Davidson Center (NC)