Most Colleges Did Not Change Aid Deadlines in Response to Early FAFSA

An overwhelming majority of colleges and universities did not change priority aid deadlines in response to an earlier financial aid cycle last year, according to a survey of member institutions by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

The Department of Education last year moved up the release of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid from Jan. 1 to Oct. 1 -- a change made to give incoming college students more time to submit the applications and to consider financial aid offers before deciding on a college. The earlier aid cycle was also made possible by the adoption of prior-prior year income data in applications. That allowed students and families to submit tax information already on file with the government rather than estimating income before they submitted their taxes.

NASFAA found that those colleges that did move up their priority aid deadlines did so to give students and families more time to review financial aid offers. But respondents to the survey said even with earlier financial aid award letters, students did not make their college choice earlier than previous aid cycles.

The earlier aid deadline, however, may have resulted in more applications being filed in the first place. An analysis from the National College Access Network last week found that by June 30 applications were up 6 percent over the same period last year. For high school seniors, applications were up 9 percent, NCAN found.

(Note: This article originally misstated the beginning of the student aid cycle before the introduction of early FAFSA.)

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House GOP Budget Hints at Changes to Pell

The 2018 budget resolution released by Republican lawmakers Tuesday claims the Pell Grant program is on shaky financial ground and calls for reforms to ensure grants "go to students with the most need, that students complete school in a timely manner and that this program is financially sustainable and available for future students."

The release of the budget resolution follows the introduction of a House appropriations bill last week that slashes $3.3 billion from the Pell Grant program surplus.

An analysis from the Center for American Progress said that the exact meaning of those reform proposals was unclear but they would likely translate to eligibility reductions or restrictions that would make it more difficult for students to qualify for Pell.

The budget resolution also calls for the House education committee to find $20 billion in savings over 10 years through the reconciliation process -- a procedure that would allow lawmakers to make mandatory spending changes without being subject to Senate filibuster. The CAP analysis said those savings would likely be found through changes to student loan programs, which the group said would have a negative impact on low-income students and students of color.

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Veterans Affairs Chair: Full Benefits for Veterans Hit by Closures

Tennessee Republican Phil Roe, the chairman of the House veterans affairs committee, will amend an update to the Post-9/11 GI Bill to include full restoration of benefits for veterans affected by the sudden closure of for-profit institutions including ITT Tech and Corinthian Colleges. Current language in the legislation, which received a hearing Monday, restores only a semester's worth of benefits for GI Bill recipients.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars said Monday the bill was a "good first step" but called for full restoration of benefits for each month of GI Bill benefits used at a closed institution.

Roe's plans to amend the legislation were originally reported by Politico. A spokeswoman for the chairman said the change would likely be made during a markup of the bill today.

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International education program axed in House appropriations bill

House appropriations bill eliminates funding for small but critical program supporting international research and travel by doctoral students.

Student Borrowing Rises, Sallie Mae Says

Students and parents are borrowing more to pay for college, according to the latest installment of a survey by Sallie Mae, which the large student lender has conducted for a decade.

The average amount students and families (Sallie Mae surveyed 800 from each group) reported paying for college during the just-completed academic year was $23,757, which was roughly the same as the previous year. Scholarships and grants covered 35 percent of what families spent, the largest contributor to the total expenditure.

Borrowing climbed to 27 percent from 20 percent last year, the survey found. Student borrowing covered 19 percent (up from 13 percent), while parent borrowing was 8 percent. Over all, 42 percent of families borrowed to help pay for college.

Family income and savings covered 34 percent of expenditures on college, with parents chipping in 23 percent and students covering 11 percent.

Figure 1A: How the Typical Family Pays for College, Average Amount, Year over Year, for academic years from 2012 to 2017. Shows split between scholarships and grants, relatives and friends, student income and savings, parent income and savings, student borrowing, and parent borrowing. Figure 1B: How the Typical Family Pays for College, Funding Source Share, Year over Year.

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Think Tank Aims to Assess College Outcomes

A new report from Third Way, a centrist think tank, attempts to measure higher education's performance across sectors and types of institutions. The group used federal data on completion, students' earnings six years after enrollment and loan repayment rates. The report features aggregate figures for four-year institutions, community colleges and certificate-granting institutions, with breakouts by sector.

Findings from the report include:

  • At 85 percent of four-year institutions, at least half of students who used federal aid were able to earn more than the typical high school graduate six years after enrollment. However, at 222 four-year colleges, the majority of students earned less than high school graduates.
  • At 59 percent of community colleges, most students are earning less than $25,000 per year six years after first enrolling.
  • At roughly a quarter of four-year institutions, more than half of students fail to begin repaying their loans three years after attending college.
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Student Debt May Be Reducing Home Ownership

A new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that rising student debt levels are a substantial contributor to the decline in home ownership among young Americans.

Annual public college tuition on average rose $3,843, or 81 percent, between 2001 and 2009, according to the study. Rising tuition in turn accounted for $1,628 of the increase in average student debt per capita among 24-year-olds during that time period.

The report found that increasing student debt and tuition "can explain between 11 and 35 percent of the observed approximate eight-percentage-point decline in home ownership for 28- to 30-year-olds over 2007-15."

The New York Fed in April released a study on the same topic, but with a different outcome.

That study, which looked at somewhat older cohorts, found that people's level of education is a bigger predictor of home ownership than student debt. Home ownership rates are higher among college graduates and those who have pursued credentials beyond an associate degree, according to the research, regardless of how much debt they took on.

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House committee moves ahead with ambitious expansion of GI Bill

The GI Bill update, the first since 2011, removes 15-year time limit for benefits and awards semester of aid to veterans affected by closures of for-profit colleges.

Long Beach surveys families to find awareness gaps about the city's free college program

Surveys find that language and distance, particularly for small groups of nationalities, can be barriers to raising awareness about Long Beach's popular college promise program.

Congress Likely to Expand GI Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives is set to announce a bipartisan agreement to expand the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Associated Press reported Thursday. The expansion's estimated $3 billion cost (over 10 years) apparently will not be offset with new fees, an idea that veterans' groups had vigorously opposed in recent months. Total spending on the GI Bill is expected to be more than $100 billion over 10 years, according to the AP.

The expansion will include the removal of a 15-year time limit on benefits as well as more money for those who serve in the National Guard and reserves.

"This is very good news for veterans and our military," Paul Rieckhoff, CEO and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said in a written statement. "It looks like forcing Congress to do their job and IAVA's campaign to #DefendTheGIBill earlier this year worked. We now finally have a bi-artisan plan to appropriately expand the Post-9/11 GI Bill -- that doesn't do it on the backs of veterans and service members, or by cutting other vital programs."

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