December 2014 Parent News
If you are like most families, you’ll be interested in what kind of financial aid is available when your student goes to college. When it comes to Minnesota’s private nonprofit colleges, 84% of first-year students are applying for financial aid by completing the FAFSA form online. (That all-important step is key to receiving financial aid and qualifying for federal loans.)
And most families are receiving aid at our colleges — an average of $19,340 per year in institutional, state and federal grants for first-year students. That average covers more than half of the tuition costs.
This means that many low-income families are able to afford our colleges. This runs counter to the myth that we’re not within reach. In fact, our share of low-income students who receive federal Pell Grants — 27% — is higher than at the U of M. Delissa Hernandez is an example of student whose family cannot contribute much to helping her cover her college costs. But with some grants, hard work and careful borrowing, she’s making it work at a private nonprofit college.">
For middle-income students, we’re a workable option too. While there’s no clear agreement on just what makes someone middle-income, but it may help to know that our median family income, for first-year students applying for FAFSA, is $89,000. So that means that half of these families have incomes below that amount and half have incomes above that. Here’s part of what Doug Minter, dean of financial aid at Gustavus Adolphus College, had to say when asked about how middle-income families are paying for college:
“Middle-income families rely heavily upon both merit and need-based institutional grant aid from the private nonprofit colleges — along with limited need-based grant aid from federal and state governments, primarily in the form of Pell and State Grants. Many of these families have saved for college costs and are able to use these funds to help pay for college. Many others take out some loans to spread the payments into the future. Loans are OK for higher education — our students have some of the lowest default rates in the country, a reflection of their ability to repay these loans. Students also work during the summer and on campus during the school year to help defray the cost.
Looking for more on the financial side? You can hear a family talk through what they learned about college financing, and a whole lot more, with the “Paying for Private College” video and clips that are online. There are links to other videos too, including ones in Hmong, Spanish and Somali.
Students benefit from a private college education in so many ways. But don't take our word for it — here are three recent stories packed with examples about how we prepare students to thrive during college and after.
- Living, learning — and playing Quiddich — When students feel part of their campus community they tend to stay at that institution and do well. One way colleges nurture that connection is through “living learning communities." (Saint Mary's, St. Kate's and Concordia College)
- Courses provoke thought — Sometime during college, students are going to find themselves in courses that stand out in some way. Read about four courses that are getting students to dig deeper. (Saint Ben's/Saint John's, Macalester and Bethany Lutheran)
- Recent grads build careers — How people move from college to career success is fascinating to watch. Here are excerpts from three profiles our colleges have written on recent graduates. (St. Olaf, Macalester and Saint Mary's)
A photo slideshow from this fall may be one way to check out campuses; virtual tour options are worth considering too. Or you can go old school and visit on foot — yes, in-person tours really are still a good way to kick some college tires. We have links to sign up for a visit as well as ideas on questions to ask.
There are two newly inaugurated presidents as of this fall: Rebecca Bergman at Gustavus Adolphus College and Mary Dana Hinton at the College of Saint Benedict. Here is some other news of note from member campuses. And you can always check out the current campus tweets.
- Students at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota worked for a year to bring a solar power project to the Winona campus.
- The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University won the first Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge, with 162,880 activity points.
- In spring 2016, Hamline University will offer DIII women’s lacrosse, a sport with historical roots that is thriving in popularity.
- St. Olaf College is one of the nation’s top producers of physics degrees, according to new data from the American Physical Society. "Our program is thriving, and students clearly find it attractive," says Associate Professor of Physics and Department Chair Brian Borovsky '94.
- Two Concordia College students implemented a beef marketing plan in Kazakhstan that was created in an international marketing course. The students’ experience was paid for by the Kazakhstan company they worked with.
- Education experts delivered short TEDx talks at the University of St. Thomas Oct. 15 on the topic of “Taking Action to Reimagine Education.”
- Concordia University, St. Paul will offer its Twelve Disciples Scholarship annually to three church work students who are first-year or transfer students.