Why Graduation Rate Matters

The graduation rate of the college you are thinking of attending is an important factor. It can tell you a lot about the value of education at the college. 

A low graduation rate can indicate several reasons why the college may not be the best fit for you. Some reasons include a lack of student support services or guidance and a tendency to have students take more remedial courses. Make sure you do a bit of research before you commit! 

 

To learn more about why graduation rate matters, download this guide Why Graduation Rates Matter. Guide provided by DecidED 

 

 

Everything You Need to Know About Scholarships

Scholarships = free money! There are several scholarships to choose from: local, state, or nationwide scholarships. It is important to ensure that you are applying for all the scholarships available to you. Scholarships are a great way to pay for your turion or tuition related expenses. Books, technology, and even doing laundry on campus can get expensive. You should never pay for scholarship opportunities, be careful that you are not being scammed. 

 

To learn more about scholarships and get access to scholarship opportunities, download this guide You Need to Know About Scholarships. Guide provided by DecidED 

 

 

Diversity

When choosing what college to attend, one of the most important components to consider is the campus’s diversity. Not only in terms of race or ethnicity of the student population but also considering how diverse the campus is in terms of cultural background, geographic location, sexual orientations, gender identities, and abilities. These components tend to get overlooked because we are caught up in the beauty of the campus or its reputation.

Diversity is crucial. You must be able to relate to your peers and feel comfortable knowing that your values align with the campus you will earn your degree in. 

 

To learn more about why and how to consider diversity when comparing schools, download this guide Diversity. Guide provided by DecidED 

 

 

Financial Aid 101

Financial Aid 101

What is financial aid?

Financial aid is broken down into three categories: gift aid, loans, and work-study

Gift aid is broken down into grants and scholarships.  Grants and scholarships are free money to the student, meaning they do not have to be repaid. Grants and scholarships can be awarded by the federal government, states, colleges, and private funders or organizations. 

  • Grants are awarded to students based on financial need
  • Some examples of grants include:
    • The Pell Grant is awarded by the U.S. federal government to eligible students based on their family’s income, assets, family size, and other factors.  The maximum Pell Grant amount was $6,345 for the 2020-2021 school year.
    • The Cal Grant is need-based and requires a minimum of a 2.0 GPA, with additional funds for students with a 3.0 or higher.
  • Scholarships can be awarded to students based on many factors, including financial need, academic achievement, athletic achievement,  community involvement, ethnic or cultural background, etc.

 

Loans are a type of financial aid that students and parents can borrow to help pay for college.  Loans must be repaid, typically with interest.  Loans can be offered by the federal government, the college itself, and private lenders.

  • Federal Direct Subsidized Loans
    • Available to undergraduate students with financial need
    • Interest is paid by the government while borrowers are enrolled at least half time
    • 2.75% fixed interest rate as of July 1, 2020 (resets each July 1st)
  • Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans
    • Available to any undergraduate and graduate student, regardless of need
    • Borrowers are responsible for all interest that accrues
    • 2.75% fixed interest rate as of July 1, 2020 (resets each July 1st)
  • Federal PLUS Loan
    • The Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS Loan) is a loan for the parent(s) of undergraduate students.
    • Parents can borrow up to the full Cost of Attendance, minus any financial aid the student has received.  PLUS loans have a fixed interest rate of 5.3% as of July 1, 2020 (will be reset as of July 1, 2021).
    • Eligibility is based on a credit check, which determines whether a parent has an adverse credit history

 

Work-study is the third main type of financial aid. It provides students with a part-time job either on or off-campus, to earn money to help pay for college or personal expenses. work-study is usually funded by the federal government, but some states and colleges sponsor work-study programs as well.

How do I apply for financial aid?

Check out this link for a one-pager that explains all the steps in the process for California students to apply for financial aid. 

Here is the breakdown of how to apply for financial aid: 

  • Register for the FSA ID
    • The Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID is a self-selected username and password that is unique for each user. The FSA ID serves as a legal signature in order to submit the FAFSA. Both the student and one parent (dependent students only) will need to create unique and separate FSA IDs. 
  • Submit the FAFSA or the CA Dream Act Application
    • FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA is required by all colleges and many technical programs and is available on October 1st of each year. The FAFSA is an application for financial aid from the government and is required in order to be considered for any federal or state-issued financial aid, in addition to some institutional funds. 
    • For students who cannot complete the FAFSA due to their citizenship status, they can complete the CA Dream Act Application. 
  • Submit the CSS Profile (if applicable)
    • The CSS Profile (College Scholarship Service Profile) is an additional financial aid form required by a large number of private colleges and a few public institutions to determine eligibility for institutional funds only – money from the college. 
  • Review Student Aid Report & Address Any Issues
    • The Student Aid Report (SAR) is a summary of all information reported on the FAFSA and is usually available to view a few days after a student submits the FAFSA. It provides important information about potential issues with a student’s FAFSA, the Expected Family Contribution, and other important information.
  • Complete Verification & Other Follow-up Tasks
    • Verification is a process in which the federal government and colleges can request copies of specific documents from a student to confirm the accuracy of the information reported on financial aid forms. Some students are randomly selected for verification while others are selected due to conflicting information that the colleges are seeing on the financial aid forms. 
  • Review and Compare Financial Aid Offers
    • Financial aid offers typically arrive from February through May, after notification of admissions acceptance. Financial aid offers to show the amount and type of aid that has been offered to a student at a particular college – a combination of federal, state, and institutional aid. These offers can arrive in many ways such as: regular postal mail, email, or more commonly via the college’s online portal.
    • Use the College Cost Calculator, a free online tool that helps students compare financial aid offers and the total costs of attending different colleges. Find it at uAspire.org/Calculator.
  • Pay Tuition Deposit
    • Once the student has decided which college they will attend they will likely need to pay a tuition deposit which holds their spot in the first-year class and for housing (if applicable). The tuition deposit amounts can range from $200 – $1000 and vary from college to college.
    • Note that in most cases, tuition deposits are NOT refundable. Students should compare all financial aid offers and only send a deposit to the college that they plan to attend.

Provided by:

CSS Profile information

CSS Profile information

The CSS Profile (College Scholarship Service Profile) is an additional financial aid form required by a large number of private colleges and a few public institutions. The CSS Profile utilizes a separate, more comprehensive formula called Institutional Methodology (IM), compared to the one used for the FAFSA. IM aims at providing a more expansive look at the family’s financial situation compared to what the FAFSA offers. Colleges utilize this methodology to determine eligibility for institutional funds only (not federal or state). 

The Profile is not free: There is a $9 registration fee and an additional $16 for each school requiring it. There are unlimited fee waivers! But these are not paper fee waivers, nor are they fee waivers in which counselors and advisors have a set amount to distribute. Rather, the student will find out whether or not they are eligible for the fee waivers after they have completed the CSS Profile, based upon income and other factors reported on the form. If students are eligible they are automatically provided the fee waivers at the time of submission. 

Similar to the FAFSA, the CSS Profile goes live on October 1 of each year. Deadlines may vary based on the school and by the way you are applying: Regular Decision, Early Action, or Early Decision. 

Important links and resources

  • The application can be found at https://cssprofile.collegeboard.org/
  • To find the full list of colleges that require this additional form click this link.
  • A helpful uAspire checklist of information necessary to complete the CSS Profile can be found here.

Provided by: