For low-income students, choosing the right college or university is often decided by how much money they will give us. We do not have the luxury of choosing a university in a favorable location or by enrollment size. Some of us can’t even choose the one that offers the best program for our major because it doesn’t grant us enough funding. We, low-income students, are faced with limitations when it comes to going to college.
And yes, scholarships are available, and their abundance does inspire us to apply to as many as possible. However, their competitive nature means not all students will receive a scholarship and therefore we cannot rely just on them. In other words, we need our government to keep funding education access for low-income students. Opportunities that come with programs like the Pell Grant.
What is the Pell Grant exactly?
The Pell Grant is a need-based grant awarded to undergraduate students who have not obtained a degree and demonstrate exceptional financial need. It has provided support for about 7 million students each year across 5,000 institutions in the U.S. However, its purchasing power has declined significantly over time. According to the Institute for College Access and Success, the Pell Grant only covers 30% of a college education when it covered about 80% in 1980.
As a Oaxacan low-income student raised in South Central LA and a personal recipient of the Pell Grant, I can vouch that receiving this aid was a significant help for covering my tuition at UC Berkeley during my first two years of college. I felt supported by this assistance and received an additional refund to cover my basic needs like food and housing. However, after my sophomore year, I noticed that my Pell Grant amount was declining as I reached senior year.
This is why we need to build awareness to #DoublePell because it can close the affordability gap for low-income students, leading to higher enrollment and an increase in retention rates. Education Policy Advisor Shelbe Klebs argues that the COVID-19 pandemic has made many students “rethink their post-secondary plans for fall; some may forgo college temporarily or permanently to work to support their families while others may choose to attend a more affordable community college close to home instead of a pricier four-year school farther away.”
Doubling the Pell Grant is the most effective way to make college affordable and available for all students. It can lead to more enrollment of low-income students of color, increase graduate school enrollments with more students pursuing higher education, decrease dropout rates, and restore its purchasing power.
Having this grant available made my college selection process easier because I could choose a good school with the financial aid package that was right for me. I am #ThankfulForPell because I was able to graduate from a 4-year university. By doubling the Pell Grant, I believe more students like me can have greater access to higher education, reach their potential and empower their communities.
uAspire’s College Cost Calculator is a free online tool that helps you compare multiple financial aid offers and calculate the total cost of attending different colleges. With the Calculator, you learn about the financial aid process, build self-advocacy skills, and increase financial literacy.
Why did we create the Cost Calculator?
Financial aid offers, also called award letters or financial aid packages, can be very difficult to decipher. There’s no industry or government standard for colleges to communicate costs consistently or transparently to students. Different colleges use different formatting and jargon for the same types of aid or loans and the information they include varies. Some don’t clearly label student loans and often omit details about the total cost, making it a challenge for students to figure out how much they will have to pay. As a result, it is exceedingly difficult for students and families to make an informed financial decision.
We believe students deserve to be able to better navigate the process of financing college, especially when leveraging their futures with loans to pay for a college degree. College-goers should be able to make apples-to-apples comparisons between schools easily, instead of having to decipher the information from a hodgepodge of offers. This is why we developed the uAspire College Cost Calculator and are providing students direct, free access to a decoding device for better decision-making about college.
Who can use the Calculator?
ANYONE. uAspire’s College Cost Calculator is available for general use, for free. The mobile version is easy to use, like the desktop version, making it accessible for those without reliable internet access.
The calculator is also intended as a free resource for school counselors and financial aid officers to share with their students. High schools and colleges can begin sharing the Calculator with their students immediately.
What are the benefits of using uAspire’s Calculator?
The Calculator empowers students to know and compare the full costs of attending multiple colleges in order to make more informed decisions about where to go to college and how to pay for it while minimizing student debt. The Calculator was developed to:
Help text, images guide students to find and enter info
Data validation reduces entry mistakes
Summary report compares aid, estimated bill, loan projection for each school
Student accounts can be accessed, updated, shared anytime from any device
Financial terms dictionary, tips, next steps, and links to resources
Why do we ask you to create an account?
By creating an account, save and share a one-page summary that compares the aid offer, estimated bill for the upcoming year, and a 4-year loan projection for each school. The report can be downloaded to a PDF and translated to Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese.
You can also save your information, come back to it at a later date, and add more schools to compare as you receive additional financial aid offers.
One of the most memorable events in a student’s life is receiving their college acceptance letter in their portal, or mailbox. In those letters, you receive your well-deserved congratulations, your welcome package, and your financial aid package. This letter now determines where you will be going for the next four years of your life.
One of the biggest deciding factors for college students is the financial aid award letter that comes in that envelope. A financial aid letter determines how much grant money the college/university is willing to offer you, how much you will pay out of pocket, and how much you will possibly have to take out in loans. When applying to more than one school, this information can get lost, misinterpreted, and confusing.
DecidED makes this process a bit easier for students! With this tool, you can create your own account, add schools, and start comparing fit factors and any financial aid packages you’ve received. In addition, you can also get how-to guides from everything on loans to budgeting for indirect college expenses.
All you have to do is head over to DecidED to create and use your DecidED account.
UC and CSU system officials are stating that financial aid appeals are up in both systems, with some campuses seeing as many as twice as many financial aid appeals as they had the year before.
If your financial situation has changed you can file an appeal at any time throughout your college journey. There is a chance your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) might be lowered. If your financial aid office lowers your EFC in response to your financial aid appeal, you may be able to take out additional federal loans or receive additional scholarships.
Financial aid appeal or request is available to qualifying students at all types of institutions offering federal financial aid. Federal law allows your financial aid office to make changes to your financial aid package under certain circumstances. Each school has its own process and requirements.
COVID-19 has impacted our families and communities tremendously. This might be a good time to consider if you qualify to submit a financial aid appeal. There is a free resource that will help you write a financial aid appeal letter – for free.
SwiftStudent is the only FREE, digital resource that provides financial aid appeal letter templates for students. Through SwiftStudent, students can learn about the financial aid appeal process, review eligibility requirements for making an appeal, and customize a financial aid appeal to start the conversation with your college financial aid office.
Being selected for verification regarding your financial aid doesn’t mean you did something wrong.
Sometimes students are selected for something called “verification.” It is very common for students to be selected for verification. If you are selected, you need to submit additional documents or information to the financial aid office at the college that confirms what you wrote on your FAFSA.
Completing this process will ensure you receive all the potential financial aid you are eligible for and that you get your financial aid on time.
🎉 Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month 🌟! Join us in recognizing the incredible contributions of Hispanic and Latinx communities to education 📚🎓. Let's #EmbraceDiversity, inspire future leaders, and support higher education opportunities for all! 🌍✨
How do you show up embracing your culture to institutions of higher education?
🎓🌟 Don’t give up this semester, students! 💪📚 Embrace the challenges, conquer your goals, and shine bright! ✨🌈 #NeverGiveUp #StayMotivated #StudentLife #SemesterGoals #SuccessAhead #KeepPushing #YouCanDoIt #RiseAndGrind #BelieveInYourself #DreamBig...
🎉 We are launching a new campaign in LA County to reengage students back to a higher education! LA County residents can now schedule an appointment with a Comeback Navigator if they need support to re-enroll, or enroll for the first time to get that college education! 🎓 Link in bio!
Please tag or share this post with friends who could benefit and reignite their higher education journey! 🎓
🌟 Calling all students of color in California! 🌟 Join the FIERCE Student Fellowship and make a real impact on education policy! 💪✨
📚 Advocate for equitable funding
🗣️ Attend advocacy trainings
💰 Receive $3,000 stipend
🌟 Build your leadership skills
Apply now! Deadline: Sept 22, 2023. 👉 Link in bio! #FIERCEFellowship @edtrustwest
Tag someone you want to share this opportunity with!
#EducationAdvocacy #StudentLeadership 🎓✨...