Secretary DeVos Issues Statement on President Trump’s Higher Education Executive Order

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released the following statement today on President Trump’s Executive Order on “Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities”:

“All students should have access to relevant, accurate, and transparent data when making decisions about their education. President Donald J. Trump’s Executive Order on ‘Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities’ once again demonstrates this Administration’s commitment to supporting and empowering students with meaningful resources as they pursue their life-long learning journeys and future careers.

“Per the Executive Order, the Department will continue its efforts to update the College Scorecard so that it includes clear information on the cost of college, expected earnings after graduation, and student loan repayment rates. We will also continue our Federal Student Aid modernization efforts that began with the launch of our first ever mobile app.  Right now, students can use the app to complete the FAFSA. And, building on the President’s directive, the app’s capabilities will expand to give students access to information about loan balances, payments, and repayment options right at their fingertips. We believe that these important reforms, along with the Department’s ambitious negotiated rule making agenda, will make college more affordable, break down barriers to innovation in higher education, and encourage new approaches and new partnerships for the benefit of students.

Full story at ed.gov

Update: Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Federal Student Aid (FSA) Statement on IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT)

To protect sensitive taxpayer data, the IRS and FSA announced today the Data Retrieval Tool on fafsa.gov and StudentLoans.gov will be unavailable until extra security protections can be added. While we are working to resolve these issues as quickly as possible, students and families should plan for the tool to be offline until the start of the next FAFSA season.

Since the tool was disabled in early March due to security concerns, the IRS has been working closely with FSA to safely return the tool to service. “We know this tool is an easy way for students and families working on applications to access their financial data,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “While this tool provides an important convenience for applicants, we cannot risk the safety of taxpayer data. Protecting taxpayer data has to be the highest priority, and we will continue working with FSA to bring this tool back in a safe and secure manner.

Full story of on the removal of the IRS DRT at ed.gov

New Feedback System Launched for Federal Student Aid Customers

The U.S. Department of Education today officially launched the Federal Student Aid (FSA) Feedback System, an online portal that allows federal student aid customers to submit complaints, provide positive feedback, and report allegations of suspicious activity regarding their experience with federal student aid programs.

The creation of the FSA Feedback System fulfills one of the primary objectives of the President’s 2015 Student Aid Bill of Rights—continuing the Obama Administration’s work to help borrowers responsibly manage their federal student debt, improve federal student loan servicing, and protect taxpayers’ investments in the student aid programs. Customers can access the system at StudentAid.gov/feedback.

“The FSA Feedback System provides an easy way for students, parents, borrowers and others to file complaints about their experiences with federal aid programs, which we will use to improve the experience for current and future borrowers,” said U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell. “We want to hear about what isn’t working so that we can fix problems and improve outcomes for borrowers.”

Full story of feedback system launched for student aid at ed.gov

Education Department Announces New Data Showing FAFSA Completion by District, State

The U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid Office (FSA) today posted a series of updates to its data center, a collection of key performance data on the federal student aid portfolio. The updates, which continue the Department’s commitment to greater transparency on the federal student loan portfolio and other key financial aid metrics, include school district-level Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion rates and the total fiscal year-to-date dollar amount recovered in defaulted student loans by guaranty agency and collection type.

“Though students ultimately make the choice to attend college, no one makes the journey to college alone,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “It is up to all of us to make the dream of a college education more accessible for more families by removing roadblocks to college and giving borrowers options to help manage their debt. The latest updates to the FSA Data Center, which for the first time offer district-level FAFSA completion data and state-level maps, serve as additional tools for schools and families to help students go to college.”

Full story of new data showing FAFSA completion by district and state at ed.gov

Quarterly Student Aid Report: Two-Thirds of Freshmen FAFSA Applicants List Only One College on Their Applications

A troubling two-thirds of freshmen students filling out an original Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) designate only a single school to send their financial aid application information, indicating that they were only applying for admission to one school.

In new quarterly updates posted on the Education Department’s Federal Student Aid Data Center, 68 percent of freshmen students filling out the 2014-15 FAFSA listed only one college, indicating that they were only applying to one school. Still, that’s better than the 80 percent who recorded just one school in 2008-09.

The quarterly report contains regular updates on the Department’s student loan portfolio, including repayment status and plan information. This quarter’s report also included new data on FAFSA completion.

“By focusing on only one school, students run the risk of being turned down for admission or losing out on better financial aid and educational opportunities from another school, with ramifications that can last a lifetime,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “That one school might be the right fit, but why take a chance? Why not consider multiple schools and increase your options and opportunities?”

Full story of quarterly student aid report at ed.gov

7 Common FAFSA Mistakes

  1. Not Completing the FAFSA®

I hear all kinds of reasons: “The FAFSA is too hard,” “It takes to long to complete,” I never qualify anyway, so why does it matter.” It does matter. By not completing the FAFSA, you are missing out on the opportunity to qualify for what could be thousands of dollars to help you pay for college. The FAFSA takes most people 21 minutes to complete, and there is help provided throughout the application. Oh, and contrary to popular belief, there is no income cut-off when it comes to federal student aid.

  1. Not Being Prepared

The online FAFSA has gotten a lot easier over the last few years. We’ve added skip logic, so you only see questions that are applicable to you. There is also an option to import your tax information from the IRS directly into the FAFSA application. But, the key to making the FAFSA simple is being prepared. You’ll save yourself a lot of time by gathering everything you need to complete the FAFSA before you start the application.

Full story of FAFSA mistakes, visit ed.gov

Parents: Tips To Help Your Child Complete the FAFSA

If you’re a parent of a college-bound child, the financial aid process can seem a bit overwhelming.  Who’s considered the parent? Who do you include in household size?  How do assets and tax filing fit into the process? Does this have to be done every year?  Here are some common questions that parents have when helping their children prepare for and pay for college or career school: 

Why does my child need to provide my information on the FAFSA®?

While the federal government provides nearly $150 billion in financial aid each year, dependency guidelines for the FAFSA are determined by Congress. Even if your child supports himself, he may still be considered a dependent student for federal student aid purposesIf your child was born on or after January 1, 1992, then he or she is most likely considered a dependent student and you’ll need to include your information on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

For more information on FAFSA, visit ed.gov

A School Counselor’s Tips on Tying up Loose Ends before You Head Off to College

As a high school counselor in a rural community I’ve been fortunate to work with students and families and guide them through planning and preparing for college.  I’m also a single parent of two kids who survived the college going experience and graduated so I understand the somewhat overwhelming and daunting task it can be, especially for families who have not been through it before.   Once those scholarship applications have been submitted, the FAFSA completed and college acceptances received there are still some things students and parents need to do.

  1. Be courteous and notify the colleges and universities that you applied to but are not planning to attend of your decision.  It will free up their resources to assist other students.

Full story of counselor’s tips for college entry at ed.gov