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The Recession and College Admissions


Apr 2, 2009

Earlier this week, we blogged about the recession making getting into a PhD program more difficult for prospective graduate students.  Prospective undergraduates are also facing a changing admissions landscape, but the picture for them is more complicated. Articles about colleges' admission conundrums have abounded this week as acceptance letters and financial aid notices make their way to anxious high school seniors. [...]

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Are you getting ready to kick off the college search, but unsure where to begin?  Today and tomorrow, prospective college students can participate in CollegeWeekLive, a free college prep event featuring college admissions and financial aid information from schools and experts across the country.  The event takes place online at CollegeWeekLive.com and kicks off today at 10 AM EDT, with the first keynote address scheduled for 11 a.m. [...]

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While April may be the cruelest month, March can be especially rough for students bound for college or graduate school.  Late March and early April are when admissions decisions and financial aid letters roll out for those not immediately accepted or rejected by their dream schools, and around now, things are getting pretty agonizing.  While a large part of March is consumed by waiting, even those who have already received good news may be consumed by the crushing dread of all the work to be done before September.  After all, if you get into a college or graduate school, you still have to figure out how to pay for it, what classes to take, what forms to complete, what to do with your life between now and then, and for many students, how to graduate on time, as well.  So, while you may still be waiting for a decision, there are things you can do in March to make April through August easier. [...]

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More students are completing the FAFSA early for 2009-2010 according to data collected by the Department of Education.  By the end of February, more than 3 million students had filed their FAFSA for the next academic year, an increase of over 20 percent from the first two months of 2008.  As application deadlines approach, this flood of applications could slow, but right now it looks like there will be more demand for financial aid in the coming school year. [...]

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The omnibus spending bill passed by the House of Representatives in February was approved by the Senate last night, and is expected to be signed by President Obama this week.  The bill includes more funding for Federal Pell Grants, fixing the maximum award at $5,350 for 2009-2010, a number that's already been widely publicized. [...]

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According to US Department of Education data, over the last year colleges and universities have continued to leave the Federal Family Education Loan Program in droves, switching to the federally run Direct Loans Program.  Between February 2008 and February 2009, the number of schools issuing federal Direct Loans increased from 1,072 to 1,620, an increase of nearly 34 percent. [...]

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As college affordability continues to be a major issue for many Americans, more states and colleges are implementing policies to save students money.  Three recently unveiled programs tackle different aspects of the college cost dilemma confronting different groups of students, parents, and graduates. [...]

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With all the talk about spending and stimulus legislation and bailouts, it can be easy to lose track of what benefits taxpayers can actually expect to receive. Most likely, everyone knows that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, perhaps better known as “the stimulus,” will create jobs through funding “shovel-ready” projects and will put a little extra in paychecks through a tax rebate that will take effect this summer.  You probably also know that there’s also financial aid in there for education, but you may not be sure exactly what. [...]

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Details of President Obama's proposed 2010 budget are emerging, with education being one of the first sections unveiled.  In the budget proposal are increases and structural changes to Federal Pell Grants, changes to Federal Perkins Loans, and the potential elimination of the Federal Family Education Loan Program, so that all new Stafford Loans and PLUS Loans for 2010-2011 would be originated by the federal Direct Loans program.  The president's budget also recommends that the new $2500 American Opportunity Tax Credit be made permanent, and that $2.5 billion be devoted over the next five years to programs to increase college access and completion. [...]

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An omnibus appropriations bill for the current fiscal year passed the House yesterday and is on its way to the Senate.  This piece of legislation will raise the maximum award for Federal Pell Grants to $5350 for 2009-2010.  The bill was put on hold last year due to threats of a veto from President Bush. [...]

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Yesterday Kim Stezala, better known as The Scholarship Lady, interviewed our own Kevin Ladd on BlogTalkRadio.com.  The topic of the interview was our upcoming 2009 Resolve to Evolve Scholarship competition, which we'll be announcing soon on our site.  Resolve to Evolve is one of the fourteen college scholarships we offer at Scholarships.com.  This year, Resove to Evolve awards will make up $5,000 of the $18,000 in scholarship money we provide to deserving Scholarships.com users through our scholarship essay contests. [...]

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The House of Representatives just passed the compromise version of the economic stimulus package.  Now there are just two stop left for it before it becomes law: the Senate and President Obama's desk.  The Senate plans to vote later this evening, putting it on track to be signed on Monday. [...]

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The Senate passed their version of the economic stimulus bill Tuesday, and by late afternoon yesterday it was announced that a compromise had been reached between the House and the Senate. The compromise bill includes less funding than either version--$789 billion as compared to $820 or $838 billion, and one of the areas that faced cuts was education. [...]

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As we mentioned last month, financial aid application deadlines are fast approaching for the coming fall.  While students technically have until June 30, 2010 to complete a FAFSA on the Web for the 2009-2010 school year, state aid deadlines happen much sooner with some occurring as early as February--this February.  So if you're waiting to do your taxes first or just generally procrastinating on your application, check the deadlines below to make sure you don't miss out on state or campus-based aid programs.   Alabama:   Check with your financial aid administrator  Alaska:  April 15, 2009  American Samoa:  Check with your financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)  Arizona:  March 1, 2009  Arkansas:   For Academic Challenge - June 1, 2009  For Workforce Grant - check with your financial aid administrator  For Higher Education Opportunity Grant - June 1, 2009 (fall term); November 1, 2009 (spring term)    California:   For initial awards - March 2, 2009  For additional community college awards - September 2, 2009 - date postmarked (additional forms may be required)    Colorado: Check with your financial aid administrator  Connecticut: Priority deadline February 15, 2009 (additional forms may be required)  Delaware: April 15, 2009  District of Columbia: June 30, 2009 (additional forms may be required)  Federated States of Micronesia: Check with your financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)  Florida: May 15, 2009 - date processed  Georgia: Check with your financial aid administrator  Guam: Check with your financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)  Hawaii: Check with you financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)  Idaho:  Opportunity Grant - Priority deadline March 1, 2009 (additional forms may be required)  Illinois:   First-time applicants - September 30, 2009  Continuing applicants - Priority deadline August 15, 2009    Indiana: March 10, 2009  Iowa: July 1, 2009  Kansas: Priority deadline April 1, 2009 (additional forms may be required)  Kentucky: Priority deadline March 15, 2009  Louisiana: July 1, 2009  Maine: May 1, 2009  Marshall Islands: Check with your financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)  Maryland: March 1, 2009  Massachusetts: Priority deadline May 1, 2009  Michigan: March 1, 2009  Minnesota: 30 days after term starts  Mississippi:   MTAG and MESG Grants - September 15, 2009  HELP Scholarship - March 31, 2009    Missouri: April 1, 2009  Montana: Priority deadline March 1, 2009  Nebraska: Check with your financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)  Nevada: Check with your financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)  New Hampshire: May 1, 2009  New Jersey:   June 1, 2009 if you received a Tuition Aid Grant in 2008-2009  All other applications - October 1, 2009, for fall and spring terms;  March 1, 2010, for spring term only    New Mexico: Check with your financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)  New York: May 1, 2010 (additional forms may be required)  North Carolina: Check with your financial aid administrator  North Dakota: March 15, 2009  Northern Mariana Islands: Check with your financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)  Ohio: October 1, 2009  Oklahoma: Priority deadline April 15, 2009 for best consideration  Oregon: Check with your financial aid administrator  Palau: Check with your financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)  Pennsylvania:   All 2008-2009 State Grant recipients and all non-2008-2009 State Grant recipients in degree programs - May 1, 2009  All other applicants - August 1, 2009 (additional forms may be required)    Puerto Rico: Check with your financial aid administrator  Rhode Island: Priority deadline March 1, 2009  South Carolina: Tuition Grants - June 30, 2009  South Dakota: Check with your financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)  Tennessee:   For State Grant - Priority deadline March 1, 2009  For State Lottery - September 1, 2009    Texas: Check with your financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)  U.S. Virgin Islands: Check with your financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)  Utah: Check with your financial aid administrator  Vermont: Check with your financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)  Virginia: Check with your financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)  Washington: Check with your financial aid administrator  West Virginia: Priority deadline March 1, 2009 (additional forms may be required)  Wisconsin: Check with your financial aid administrator  Wyoming: Check with your financial aid administrator (additional forms may be required)  Additional information about federal and state financial aid application deadlines can be found on the official FAFSA website.  Deadlines for individual campuses may occur earlier than the deadline for your state.  Check with your college's financial aid office to find out deadlines for campus financial aid. [...]

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The student loan rescue plan that will allow the Department of Education to buy up student loans issued since 2003 will begin operating in February.  The plan will set up a bank to act as a "conduit" for purchasing older student loan assets and will also allow the Treasury to become the buyer of last resort for assets the conduit bank is unable to refinance.  The Treasury will buy up student loans through this program for the first 90 days, after which the Department of Education will take over.  The Bank of New York Mellon is currently the only authorized conduit, though more could be added later. [...]

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It's looking like federal student financial aid will be increased in the forthcoming economic stimulus package, at least based on the legislation presented in each house of Congress in its current form.  While the House stimulus bill contains more aid for education, the Senate bill also proposes higher education tax benefits and increases in Federal Pell Grant funding. [...]

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If you're wondering what to expect in college or how you measure up against the students already there, an annual survey of college freshmen may help answer your questions.  The Cooperative Institutional Research Program, conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute and UCLA, annually surveys college freshmen, asking a broad spectrum of questions ranging from their reasons for their college choice to their religious and political views.  The results from this year's survey have just been published on the Higher Education Research Institute's website. [...]

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While it's still a long way from becoming law, the first published draft of the economic stimulus legislation created by the House of Representatives includes billions of dollars for higher education, including several provisions designed to make paying for school easier.  The bill still has to be approved by both the House and the Senate (which is drafting its own stimulus legislation) then signed by the President, so it remains to be seen how many of the following appropriations will make it into the final version of the stimulus package. [...]

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While many stories right now are focusing on financial aid programs finding themselves strapped for cash to award an increased of needy applicants, this is not universally the case. Data published by The Chronicle of Higher Education shows that two federal grant programs that were added in 2006 still have more awards than applicants.  The Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) and Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (SMART) Grant have gained some participation, but still they're still falling short of enrollment goals. [...]

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During his confirmation hearing Tuesday, Arne Duncan, Obama's appointee for Education Secretary, disclosed broad ideas but few specific plans for education in America.  Much of the hearing before the U.S. Senate focused on elementary and secondary education, though questions related to paying for college did surface.  Duncan's primary focuses appear to be on college access and college affordability, moving away from the emphasis on accountability the nation has seen under Margaret Spellings, the current Secretary of Education. [...]

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The Illinois State University Center for the Study of Education Policy released its annual report on state tax support for higher education today.  According to the Grapevine report, the best case scenario is that for fiscal year 2008-2009 (July 1, 2008-June 30, 2009), state higher education spending grew by an average of 0.9 percent across the country.  The report acknowledges this figure is likely rather optimistic, as many states are still in the process of trimming budgets for the current fiscal year, and some are requesting that colleges not spend appropriations they've already received. [...]

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Barack Obama became known for his web presence during his Presidential campaign.  He and his transition team have kept up this reputation through YouTube addresses and websites such as Change.gov, the official transitional website.  Now the Obama transition team is asking for public comments--or at least blog comments--on issues related to paying for school.  A post on the Change.gov blog is currently soliciting feedback about college affordability.  While there's no guarantee that the President-elect himself will read your post, if you would like to weigh in on educational policy at least in a small way, you can view and comment on the January 5 Change.gov blog post "Keeping College Affordable."  [...]

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Full-tuition scholarships, half-tuition scholarships, and financial aid packages free of student loans continue to be unveiled at institutions across the country.  While it may be too late for many students to alter their college application plans, if you are still looking for colleges for 2009, or if you happen to have applied to one of these schools, you may find the following information useful.  This week, The Chronicle of Higher Education profiled several significant scholarship programs private, community, and state colleges are launching or expanding for incoming students in 2009. [...]

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