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Early & Often - Designing a Comprehensive System of Financial Aid Information

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Students and parents need ample time and accurate information to prepare for the financial burden of a college education-those who lack this knowledge base face a significant access barrier to higher education. This problem can be countered by the delivery of comprehensive, integrated financial aid information, an approach identified by the Advisory Committee in The Studen Students and parents need ample time and accurate information to prepare for the financial burden of a college education-those who lack this knowledge base face a significant access barrier to higher education. This problem can be countered by the delivery of comprehensive, integrated financial aid information, an approach identified by the Advisory Committee in The Student Aid Gauntlet: Making Access to College Simple and Certain (2005).At the heart of the report is a comprehensive framework that provides detailed subcategories of information students should know within four broad areas: Benefits of Higher Education. Access to information about how college can positively impact a student's future in a variety of ways, both economic and non-economic, can influence preparation for college enrollment.College Expenses. Misconceptions about sticker price and financial aid eligibility can skew a student's cost/benefit analysis by overestimating the actual amount the student must pay out of pocket to attend college.Paying for College. Knowledge about appropriate types of grants and loans can make college affordable for even the lowest income students, but the absence of that information can prevent college-qualified students from financing a degree.Forms and Processes. Walking through and explaining the FAFSA, decoding financial aid award letters, and discussing the aid disbursement process will improve the chances that students can afford and will attend higher education.In addition, the report lays out a set of ten guidelines to help practitioners tailor delivery to a target population. Research and program implementation have shown each of the ten guidelines to be effective, and programs will find that a customized combination of the guidelines will help meet individual program objectives


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Students and parents need ample time and accurate information to prepare for the financial burden of a college education-those who lack this knowledge base face a significant access barrier to higher education. This problem can be countered by the delivery of comprehensive, integrated financial aid information, an approach identified by the Advisory Committee in The Studen Students and parents need ample time and accurate information to prepare for the financial burden of a college education-those who lack this knowledge base face a significant access barrier to higher education. This problem can be countered by the delivery of comprehensive, integrated financial aid information, an approach identified by the Advisory Committee in The Student Aid Gauntlet: Making Access to College Simple and Certain (2005).At the heart of the report is a comprehensive framework that provides detailed subcategories of information students should know within four broad areas: Benefits of Higher Education. Access to information about how college can positively impact a student's future in a variety of ways, both economic and non-economic, can influence preparation for college enrollment.College Expenses. Misconceptions about sticker price and financial aid eligibility can skew a student's cost/benefit analysis by overestimating the actual amount the student must pay out of pocket to attend college.Paying for College. Knowledge about appropriate types of grants and loans can make college affordable for even the lowest income students, but the absence of that information can prevent college-qualified students from financing a degree.Forms and Processes. Walking through and explaining the FAFSA, decoding financial aid award letters, and discussing the aid disbursement process will improve the chances that students can afford and will attend higher education.In addition, the report lays out a set of ten guidelines to help practitioners tailor delivery to a target population. Research and program implementation have shown each of the ten guidelines to be effective, and programs will find that a customized combination of the guidelines will help meet individual program objectives

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