February 2016 Counselor News
You can use the federal Financial Aid Toolkit to find answers to common questions, plan financial aid events and more. Below is a list of key information that students and their families need to know:
- Get an estimate – To get an estimate of an expected family contribution and eligibility for financial aid, students and parents may want to consider completing the FAFSA4CASTER. This tool has fewer questions than the actual FAFSA and doesn’t require personal information.
- Create a FSA ID – Students and parents should each create a FSA ID (instructions). This ID will be used to sign in to all federal financial aid-related websites.
- File taxes early – Students and parent may complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as January 1, or as soon as taxes are filed. If taxes are filed two to three weeks before completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), most families will be able to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (see below) to complete the FAFSA application.
- Simplify the FAFSA by using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) – Students and parent(s) are encouraged to use the DRT to complete the FAFSA. This helps to make the application process easier and reduces common errors.
- Understand and prepare for verification – Verification requires the student and parent(s) to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool or submit federal tax transcripts and other supporting information directly to the financial aid office for the purpose of verifying the information shared on the FAFSA. It is critically important to respond to schools’ requests for information as soon as possible in order to get an official financial aid award letter in a timely fashion.
- Find your “go-to” person – Colleges are big places, and the application and enrollment process can sometimes seem overwhelming. Students and parents are strongly encouraged to identify a go-to person at each college, someone you know you can go to for timely and honest answers to your particular questions.
Many of our colleges award credit to first-year students who have participated in high school college prep programs like Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, College in the Schools, College-Level Examination Program and/or Postsecondary Education Options. But polices differ between institutions. Find out which colleges accept what.
Our college admission experts field their fair share of questions from high school students at college fairs and other admission-related events. We selected and answered a few of the most common ones. Read the Q&A article.
The president of College of Saint Benedict, Mary Hinton, recently tackled how the liberal arts are critical to the deeper purpose behind college while the Council's president, Paul Cerkvenik, addressed common myths around affordability and debt. Read excerpts from both opinion pieces.
January term (or J-term) is a four-week intensive session between semesters held by some of our colleges that allows students to focus on single class. Like many of those colleges, Hamline University offers a variety of classes during J-term. One such class for juniors and seniors provides career development and professional skills training to help them seek internships and employment. Read more about Hamline's career prep class.
We’ll soon begin work on updating several free college resources, and we’d like to give you option of pre-ordering copies for your staff and/or as a resource for students or parents. (If you’d like copies of the current versions, you can still order them from our publication page.)
- 2016-17 College Guide — This resource includes general information about Minnesota's Private Colleges as well as individual college profile pages and our majors and minors grid. (View current version.)
- Excellence, Career Preparation, Affordability — This brochure highlights the benefits of attending a Minnesota private college or university. (View current version.)
Please compare notes with your colleagues to come up with your best office-wide estimate to meet your needs. Then click here to submit your pre-order by March 31.
Please note that you’ll still be able to order copies later, but pre-ordering allows you to reserve copies and helps us better estimate how many to print (and reduces the risk of running out).
Although the 2016 Minnesota Private College Week is still four months away on June 20-24, you can already begin spreading the word and using our free postcard and flyers.
Our 17 private nonprofit institutions continue to offer short morning and afternoon introductory sessions, all five days of the week. To accommodate slightly longer sessions (at the request of students and parents), please note that we’ve slightly adjusted the start times; the morning session now begins a 9 a.m. and the afternoon at 1:45 p.m.
Here are some of the best recent articles that we’ve come across:
How efforts to combine arts with STEM education could improve tech diversity
The Christian Science Monitor, Dec. 16, 2015
College, and its value, is within the reach of all
Duluth News Tribune, Jan. 3, 2016
Challenging the barista myth
Inside Higher Ed, Jan. 7, 2016
The importance of high-school mentors
The Atlantic Magazine, Jan. 13, 2016
What is the value of an education in the humanities?
National Public Radio, Feb. 3, 2016