Monday, July 30, 2012

12 Ways to Make Sure Your Teen Doesn’t Boomerang Back


12 Ways to Make Sure Your Teen Doesn’t Boomerang Back | Bachelor's Degree Online

Here is a link that was sent to me from the people at Bachelors Degree Online. The article definitely has some good ideas about how to help children going off to college don't end up coming back so quickly. Although there is definitely a slant toward university life portrayed in the article, there are some good and common sense ideas that everyone can take and use in their lives.

Sometimes we forget about the little things in life. I have two favorite points from this list: setting expectations early and providing the child with a strong financial education.

No matter when you are thinking of college, it's never too early to start planning. The earlier you start thinking about it and getting things in order, the easier the change will be when you make the transition. I've heard Admissions reps talking to students at our school and they would try to make the prospective student think about daycare and transportation well in advance of starting. There will always been last minute things that go wrong, so there's no reason to figure out as much as you can in advance, so when something does go wrong, you can more easily take care of it.

I can't speak enough about having a strong financial understanding, which ties is specifically with living within your means. I have friends who are in college or recently graduated college. They always tell me how difficult it is to afford things, but then I see them with the new iPhone, toting around a tablet, showing off a new tattoo, or smoking the expensive cigarettes. Sometimes in life, we have to make sacrifices. Other times we just need to cut back. Society tells us we need the newest toys and the higher-priced consumables. Sometimes, all it takes is just cutting back. In the first three months of this year, Starbucks' net income from the US alone was over $309 million. There's a reason why they make so much and why we feel so poor. Maybe one should get used to making their own coffee, which would save a few dollars every day. Maybe one should make their own lunch instead of buying fast food or even snack food. Maybe one should carpool sometimes. Wherever one can cut down on the spending (even if it's just a few cents here and there), one will be able to afford the things that they need to easier.

It is a challenge to plan ahead and to live frugally, as well as do the other things listed, but the rewards are more than just an education at a school.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Graduation and Placement Rate Bias

The world of higher education is an interesting one. It's a world filled with misinformation, half-truths, and outright lies. Sometimes there are truths, but one usually has to do some digging to actually find them. As with most industries, there are good players and bad players. It's just a way of life. However, with most attempts to weed out the bad players, the good players are the ones that suffer.

The funny thing is how things aren't always how they seem. Take for example the rules of the Dept of Ed that for-profit schools disclose their on-time graduation rates, placement rates, costs, and other information. Any school that offers a Gainful Employment program, whether it's public, private, or for-profit, should release that information for that program. So why is it that all programs at a for-profit institution has to disclose that information? There are several reasons for that which we won't cover today.

Some people are under the impression if a school has to disclose something, then the numbers have to be really good. But what's considered really good? I've met a few who compare graduation rates and placement rates to grades on tests: if it's over 90% then it's good, if it's in the 80's% then it's ok, if it's in the 70's% then it's not so good, and if it's under that, then it's failing. It's not quite that simple.

Accrediting agencies have their own rules on these numbers. Graduation rates are figured on a time and a half basis, meaning if a program lasts two years, then the graduation rate is figured on people who completed in three years. Placement rates are figured on people who completed a program and obtained jobs in a related field; however, this figure doesn't take into account people who willingly chose not to get a job in a related field (yes, these people do exist - take for example an accountant who takes Medical Assisting to learn how to take care of her Great Aunt but has no intention of becoming a Medical Assistant). The rates themselves (like most statistics) don't tell the whole story, and usually ruling against the school. Most accrediting agencies look at around 60% as a good number for judging these rates.

However, have you ever wondered what a public university's rates were? These schools don't have to disclose this information for non-Gainful Employment programs. So, just because they aren't required to disclose it, does that mean that their rates are exemplary?

Here is an article about the 11 public universities with horrible graduation rates. These rates are based on time and a half for bachelor's degrees. The list of schools is found on a link in the page. I urge you to take a look. Some of the names will shock you.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Recent Updates

Here we are after July 1, so that means new rules are now in effect. So what have been the newest changes?

  1. A new change which is nothing new but has had no publicity is that fees on federal Stafford loans. On the Subsidized, Unsubsidized, and PLUS loans, there were fees but some part of the fees had been part of a rebate. Well, the rebate is gone so the fee goes up now. Last year, the fee was .5% on Subsidized and Unsubsidized, but now it will be 1%. PLUS loans last year were 2.5%, but now they will be 4%.
  2. At seemingly the last minute Congress finally passed the extension of the Subsidized interest rate on June 29. It was signed into law the first week of July. This extension ensures that the Subsidized loan's interest rate will remain at 3.4% until June 30, 2013.
  3. The biggest news comes last. On June 30, a ruling was given from a federal district judge on the lawsuit between APSCU and the Dept of Education regarding the Gainful Employment rules. Although the Dept of Ed has 60 days from the ruling to appeal (and from the sound of it, it seems like they will), the career-focused sector of higher education treats this as a victory. Our of the four main parts, three were struck down and one was upheld. The one that was upheld was the Disclosures (cost, completion rate, placement rate, median loan debt, etc.). The one part of the rule that was struck down was the Metrics, which schools had to reach to remain eligible to continue receiving FA. The judge stated that the Dept of Ed hadn't fully explained how it had come up with its figures, so the judge struck down the rule. The other two (new program approval process and Reporting) were struck down since they were dependent on the Metrics.
There have been some major changes. These are the largest ones. Those of us in the for-profit sector hail Rudolph Contreras's ruling in favor on 3/4 of the GE rules. Much of the industry isn't upset about the Disclosure rule not being struck down; in fact, we wish all schools would be held to that standard. It would surprise a lot of people to know the numbers on most of the large public schools.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Topic Requests?

Financial Aid is difficult and challenging, and unfortunately it's a little different at each school. Because of this, there are always nuances that can only be explained by someone from that particular institution. On the other hand, there are always certain things that don't change and certain things that remain constant no matter how the institution interprets the rules.

That being said, if you have topics that you would like covered, feel free to email suggestions. We try to keep updated on policies and rules that go into effect each year, as well as explaining issues with currently existing rules and regulations. If something hasn't been covered yet, let us know and we'll try to find some information.

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Moment to Breathe

This week the campuses are on vacation, and to allow time to research new rules and regulations, the Financial Aid Corner is taking a moment to breathe. It's been a good year with some interest starting to show on this blog. I hope that the interest continues! For all the new rules and interpretations of the new rules, we always seem to stay quite busy.

Thanks for checking out the blog! Let's take a moment to breathe as the new rules go into effect and as we make our way to the end of the year.