This is the transcript for Episode 5 (October 13th, 2017) of the “Title IV + More Podcast for Utah Counselors and Educators” from Katie Wornek, Jacob Newman, and Bryan Lee at StepUp to Higher Education Utah. To listen to this episode or any other episodes of the podcast, please visit this link.

Please be advised that the FAFSA and federal student aid are subject to change. While we ensure all the information we share in each episode is accurate at the time of the episode’s release, our statements are not insulated from future changes. If you have questions, we encourage you to call us at 801-869-5701 or email us at outreach@utahsbr.edu


Bryan: “You’re listening to Title IV + More, StepUp Utah’s podcast for counselors and educators.”

Jacob: “Welcome, listeners, to our Title IV + More, the StepUp Utah counselor and educator podcast. I’m Jacob Newman and I’m a paying for college expert with StepUp Utah.”

Katie: “I’m Katie Wornek, also a paying for college expert with StepUp Utah.”

Bryan: “And hi everyone, I’m Bryan. I am the digital media and social media guy for StepUp Utah.”

Katie: “Welcome to this episode! So we’re going to kick it off with our news headlines. We’re got two of them to cover for you. The first one comes from New America. On September 28th, the Department [of Education] made a change to the College Scorecard that’s really going to help student be able to compare schools more easily. So this new update allows students not just to search one school at a time, but to choose up to 10 colleges to do a side-by-side comparison in tables of the features that that college offers. So I think this is going to be a really good opportunity to show your students how they should be researching the colleges that they would like to attend. There is the link to this article, which then links to the College Scorecard in the transcript of this podcast if you’re interested in checking that out. And our second highlight comes from The Atlantic and it’s a piece about the rural higher education crisis. What this piece found is that despite acceptable test score levels and a higher-than-average graduation rate, only 59% of rural school graduates go on to college the fall after they leave high school. If we compare that nationally, 62% of urban students end up going to college the fall after they graduate and 67% of suburban students do. And again, that rural number is 59. So, I wanted us to have kind of a roundtable discussion about why this might be happening and what we can do to combat it. The article itself kind of links this trend back to some historical and cultural and economic factors they’ve seen that might be behind this, but we also need to talk about what this means for Utah and how we can do a better job of getting our rural students to college. Just to kind of end on a quote here, the article interviewed a representative from the Kentucky Valley Education Cooperative, and he gave this statement that I thought was really profound and really powerful. He said that, “Understanding and addressing this issue is critical to our future, not just for employment, but for civil discourse and kids feeling like they contribute and achieve and not feeling lost and ignored.” So I think it speaks to the fact that college is not just about your return on investment and what your degree can get you in terms of a job or a paycheck, but it’s about learning the civil discourse and being exposed to new ideas and diversity. I think we know very well that that’s what college can provide and we want these students to be able to take advantage of that as well in their own lives.

Jacob: You know what’s really interesting as we talk about this, Katie and I had a training earlier this week and we met with some really great counselors from Vernal, Utah. And they were talking about some of the challenges they face in terms of this rural problem that, you know, this higher education problem that they have a little bit. And they were mentioning that the community is very economically depressed. And I think that we see some really great work from our counselors in terms of encouraging this 1, 2, 4 model where it doesn’t just have to be a 4-year college degree. It can be a 1-year certificate or a 2-year degree that they can go on to pursue. And I think that, as we see these counselors doing this really great work to promote this 1, 2, 4 model, hopefully those kids will be able to go back to that community and contribute to it economically as well.

Katie: Definitely. I think that that’s a good point, Jacob. And the, you know, Governor Herbert has this goal that 66% of Utah adults will have postsecondary education by 2020, and the only way we get there is by acknowledging the fact that college is not just 4 years. It can be that 1-year certificate or an Associate’s. And I think that a lot of students can benefit from that model. But I think we also, I mean, we just need to call out the good work that our rural counselors are doing in Utah. I know that this is a national article, and it’s not just calling us out specifically. But I think that we do a good job of focusing on these populations, reaching out to them, and, I mean, I think that a good example of that, a good model of that, is we have the Utah Rural School Association that actually works, it’s these superintendents and employees of school districts that work together to collaborate to see how we can better serve our rural students.

Jacob: And we’re always here to help. We know that we can’t be everywhere all the time, but we really want to be able to be engaged with our rural counselors out there. So if you ever feel like you need support or there’s something that we’re not providing, please feel free to reach out to us to let us know what we can do because we know that you face unique challenges in your communities, sometimes that are economically depressed, or sometimes that have other factors that are beyond your control, so we really want to be there to be able to help.

Katie: Yea. Thank you, Jacob. Bryan, I’m going to hand it over to you for our event calendar for this first part of October.

Bryan: Alright, well, thank you very much, Katie. Well first, we have an event in retrospect which is the USHE Conference that happened last week. Just a little bit we wanted to discuss about that – it was on September 29th and it was at the City Creek Marriott in downtown Salt Lake City. We had over 600 counselors in attendance that day, which is awesome. Over 20 breakout sessions, we awarded the FAFSA Cup to the Utah Academy of Sciences and we also encourage people to attend next year and if you have any questions about that you can call 801-869-5701. And then we have our upcoming events which are all FAFSA Nights. So these are the free and public events that you can invite your students to or any students in your community even. And we have those on Monday, the 16th at Bear River High School, Box Elder High School, Pinnacle Canyon High School. And then Tuesday the 17th at Green River and Copper Hills. And then Thursday the 19th at American Leadership Academy. On Tuesday the 24th we’ll be at Monticello, Park City, Pine View, and Juab. On Wednesday the 25th we’ll be at Springville and Grand County. And then on Thursday the 26th we’ll be at San Juan, Itineris, and American Preparatory Academy. And that was a lot of events at a lot of different places, so if you want to see our upcoming FAFSA Night events, you can see those at StepUpUtah.com/Events and find any details or information about them there as well. And then, with that, we will switch over to Jacob for our FAFSA Tip of the Month.

Jacob: Awesome. So we are super excited for the tip this week. Just to remind everyone, our October Tip of the Month theme is FAFSA Fears, Myths, and Urban Legends since it’s a Halloween theme. [Halloween music]. Oooooooo, spooky. Ok, so our first FAFSA fear, this is a tip that we’re going to give, this is our first one. We want to address the belief that a student shouldn’t file the FAFSA because their parents earn too much money. This is something that a lot of people say, we hear this very often. So people will say I don’t plan on filing the FAFSA because I won’t qualify for anything. I’ve heard this at multiple FAFSA Nights this week. So, 1 in 5 undergraduate students don’t fill out the FAFSA for this exact reason, that they don’t think they’re going to qualify for anything, which is literally why millions of dollars in financial aid get left on the table every year. And this is one reason why the federal Pell grant program, and we all know that grants are free money, has a $3.9 billion dollar surplus by 2017. Just to remind everyone, it’s always worth filing the FAFSA because almost everyone who files and is eligible to file, so if they’re a US citizen or an eligible noncitizen, they can qualify for some type of federal student aid. And it’s a good idea just to file [sic] but it’s always a good idea to file because, remember, you don’t have to take the aid that you’re offered. And you might qualify for things that you don’t even know about. So we always encourage people to apply because you never know what you will qualify for. And, just to remind everyone, we have a whole blog that Katie actually wrote about FAFSA Fears and you can see that at our website, StepUpUtah.com. It addresses some of these spooky fears that people have with some fun Gifs and stuff.

Katie: Yea, that was a really fun blog to write because Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, so it was good to write kind of a creepy-themed blog.

Jacob: And now we’re going to go ahead and let Katie interview our guest that we have for this week, Pastor France Davis.

Katie: Well, listeners, this week our special guest for our interview is Pastor France Davis. He is the pastor of the historic Calvary Baptist Church in Salt Lake City, “The Church of Great Expectations” and has been for the past 40 years. He’s also an emeritus professor at the University of Utah. He is a former Regent with the State Board of Regents and he is the founder of the Expect the Great College and Career Readiness Conference and Leadership Summit for Black, African, and African-American students and communities in Utah. That conference is going to be held October 28th this year at Westminster College, so we are having him on to chat a little bit about that conference and what attendees can expect, so welcome, Pastor, and thank you for being here.

Pastor Davis: Thank you, my pleasure to be here.

Katie: Alright, can you tell us a little bit about the history of this conference and what led you to create it?

Pastor Davis: Some years ago the governor and the Board of Regents decided that they wanted a certain percentage of young people to graduate from college with at least a certificate beyond high school by 2020. And in order to reach that goal we needed to attract students who were not traditional students. We needed to go after students that were from minority communities, and one of the communities that is often times overlooked and not attracted by these kind of efforts is the African and African-American community. So we decided that it was necessary to make some special effort. I asked all of the college presidents and the Commissioner if they would be supportive and if they would put their money where their mouths were and help to finance it and provide a person who was a decision- or policy-maker to participate in the planning of the conference. And so we’ve been doing it now for, this is our 8th year I believe, that we’ve been doing this.

Katie: Fantastic. Sounds like a great endeavor. What can attendees expect from this year’s conference?

Pastor Davis: Well, attendees can expect three main things. Number one, information about how to enroll in and become a part of the higher education institutions in the state of Utah. Secondly, how to find support and continue to graduation as students in higher education. And then thirdly, once they finish, to be able to become productive by getting a job or by becoming a creator of some kind of product. So they find all of those kind of things, opportunities there. There will be counselors there, there will be people to advise them, there will be forms there that they can fill out. They can apply for jobs – companies will be there to say, “Here’s what we’re hiring for.”

Katie: That’s wonderful. Kind of a holistic approach it sounds like, not just accessing higher education but how to be successful.

Pastor Davis: Absolutely. So we’re inviting parents, we’re inviting students from higher education, college, as well as students from high school.

Katie: Ok, so it’s kind of a broader audience.

Pastor Davis: It’s a broader audience. And we’ve had this kind of audience from the beginning.

Katie: Wonderful. And it’s good to have that parent participation there as well.

Pastor Davis: It is. And one of the things we found out by doing this is that many of the students say, at Snow, don’t know the students at the University of Utah and so it’s a time also for students getting to know each other that are at the higher education institutions. Fortunately all of the higher education institutions from USHE are involved, the Westminster College, and this year BYU has also decided that they’re going to be a participant.

Katie: That’s wonderful. It sounds like it’s a really great networking opportunity for students of many grade levels.

Pastor Davis: Absolutely.

Katie: Well, thank you, Pastor. Anything else you’d like to add?

Pastor Davis: Well, we want to invite everybody. It’s of no charge that they can come. Students who are a part of leadership can come on Friday night and have some networking and then on Saturday all day we invite people to come and just participate. College students, parents, as well as high school students.

Katie: Fantastic. And, if any of your students are interested in registering, they can register at ExpectTheGreatUtah.com. Thank you for coming on today, Pastor. We appreciate your time.

Pastor Davis: My pleasure. Good to be here.

Katie: Thank you.

Jacob: Alright, everyone, thank you for joining us for this week’s episode of Title IV + More, the StepUp Utah counselor and educator podcast. So, for the next episode, here’s some things that you can look forward to – we’re going to have our FAFSA tip, we’re going to have more news and events, and we’re actually also going to have a guest interview with the Utah System of Higher Education’s Cyd Grua and Megan…how do you say her

Katie: It’s a tough one. I believe it’s pronounced Kurbarych

Jacob: Kubarych?

Katie: Like Stanley Kubrick.

Jacob: We’re going to have a guest interview with Utah System of Higher Education’s Cyd Grua and Megan Kubarych-Brown about Concurrent Enrollment, so that will be really great for us to learn some more information about some of the initiatives they have going on. We’re also going to have a counselor spotlight, so be on the listen for that. As always, we encourage feedback or questions or concerns that you have about the podcast or anything we can do better. And also, make sure that you get in those counselor spotlight nominations. We look forward to seeing you next week.

Bryan: This has been the StepUp Utah Title IV + More podcast. Special thanks to Bensound for the royalty-free music. See you next time.