This is the transcript for Episode 7 (November 14th, 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.

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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.

Katie: Welcome, listeners. I’m Katie Wornek and I am a paying for college expert with StepUp Utah.

Bryan: Hello, everyone. I’m Bryan. I am the social and digital media guy at StepUp Utah.

Katie: Thanks for joining us this week. We’re going to have a fun-filled episode for you. We’ll start off with our education news headlines, talk about some of the events we have coming up for the month, we’ll share a FAFSA Tip of the Week with you, and then we’ll end this segment on an interview with our guest, Max Gonzales, from the Utah Education Network.

Bryan: Yes indeed. An awesome show for you today. We will start out with our education news headlines for the week. The first is by the US News and World Report. It’s “Companies Offer Tuition Perks to Part-Time Employees”. This is a way to pay for college that we don’t cover as much as we would like to here at StepUp Utah, so we wanted to take some time to dive into that a little bit today. A little excerpt from this article points out one of the best things about being able to use your employer or take advantage of the benefits that employers offer for tuition benefits. More than half of companies surveyed in a Society for Human Resource Management report responded that they offered some type of tuition benefit to retain employees. Around 34% of companies surveyed offered an education program to hourly workers according to the report, and most [of those] employers require the employee to work at least 20 hours a week to get that benefit.

Katie: Can I chime in here, Bryan?

Bryan: Yea, of course.

Katie: This is something that we are actually trying to aggregate this data for Utah employers state-wide. It’s one of the projects we’re working on as a group at StepUp Utah, so it’s a little bit…it’s a lot of work, I will say that, so it’s not anything that you’ll see immediately. But please know that that is on our radar and that will be a resource not only for counselors but for anyone who’s interested in it. But I think that, you’re right, this is something that we don’t always talk about with students, but it is a viable option for paying for college. So, a lot of students work currently in high school and are planning to continue that in college, or maybe they don’t have a job now but that’s something that they are anticipating doing when they start school. So if they are looking for part-time work, especially if they didn’t qualify for work-study, it’s important to remember that that’s a factor they can research when they’re looking for who they want to work for. And they can advocate for themselves by saying, you know, “I know that I am a valuable employee and this is a benefit that I deserve.” And they can look for either a tuition reimbursement or maybe somebody that offers a tuition discount where they’re going, so it’s definitely something that not a lot of students even think about when they’re thinking about paying for college.

Bryan: For sure. I think one thing that would be really appropriate to mention here would be that, where we work, UHEAA, and for higher education in the state, depending on what field you work in you can get extra benefits for education as well, or higher benefits than you may get from private employers. So, one thing that students can pay attention to when they are, say, looking for a job or an employer that would help them with tuition is maybe look into a field like public service or for the state where they may get higher education benefits and get a really good discount on their tuition prices.

Katie: Yea, that’s definitely something to keep in mind.

Bryan: Alright, so we’ll move onto our next education headline for this week, and it is about college promise programs from Community College Daily and the article is called, “College Promise Programs Continue to Grow.” These are program that cover the majority or all of community college tuition for students who demonstrate financial need. A little excerpt from the article – “Over the past year, over 50 new college promise programs were announced or created in small communities, large cities, and states” according to the report. “There are now more than 200 college promise programs across 41 states. New college promise programs are evolving at a rapid pace because communities and states recognize that a high school education is insufficient to secure a good job and a decent quality of life in today’s economy.” And I would say that’s very true. Education beyond high school is 100% necessary to…not 100%, I won’t say that. Some people have the ability to, you know, skip that part of it. Most, like myself, do not. And getting an education is your gateway to the, a better quality of life.

Katie: It definitely is. I mean, even if, we talk about this all the time – even if it’s a 1-year certificate program, your livelihood can greatly improve from that program alone and a lot of the jobs that that unlocks for you. I think, I mean, you’re a student at SLCC right, Bryan?

Bryan: I am.

Katie: And this is something that so many students at Salt Lake Community College are benefitting from, this promise program. So we’re lucky that we have several of these in the state. SLCC has SLCC Promise, Weber has Dream Weber, and these are basically match programs where if a student qualifies for a Pell grant or they demonstrate some sort of financial need that’s outlined by that community college (or in the case of Weber, even a 4-year university) the institution itself will cover the cost of the rest of tuition for that student. And one that I actually found out about recently, I don’t have a lot of details because it was just kind of an off-the-cuff remark in a conference that I attended on Saturday, Westminster College is doing Griffin Grants and I had never heard of this before. It’s worth looking into, counselors. It’s not necessarily a promise program by name. But basically what it does is for students who demonstrate financial need, I believe it is through the Pell grant on the FAFSA, Westminster drops its tuition to match the tuition of the highest in-state cost school, which I’m not sure who it is so I’m not even going to guess at this point. But it’s interesting that they have that program out there and I had never heard of it before.

Bryan: Well, students, we recommend you look into the promise programs, and counselors to inform your students about those programs. They’re a great opportunity for anyone with that financial need. So, with that, we will transition to our events calendar.

Katie: Excellent. Thanks, Bryan. So, before we get started on the upcoming events, I actually just wanted to make a comment that the Expect the Great conference for African American students at Westminster College was on October 28. We had an episode about that earlier where Revered France Davis came on and talked about the history of that conference. So, we attended. We gave a breakout session about paying for college and I was really impressed with the turnout. There were over 300 students and parents there that were anywhere from high school students to existing college students and they learned things about how to polish a resume, how to pay for college, how do I get a good career once I leave college. So there was a lot of good networking opportunities and it was a fantastic event.

Bryan: Very cool.

Katie: Yea, and it was, I’m glad we had the opportunity to be a part of that. And then our upcoming events, it’s really all FAFSA Nights at this point. So, rather than reading them off by date, I’m going to just read them off by week and you are welcome to look at the events on StepUpUtah.com/Events so you can look at the full calendar. But for next week, the week of November 13, we are at (brace yourself, it’s a few of them) Herriman, Olympus, Utah Connections Academy, West High, Timpview, Corner Canyon, Highland High, Millard High, Logan, Granger, Kearns, Cottonwood, Whitehorse, Weber, Hunter, Desert Hills, Timpanogos, Davis, Alta, American Fork, SUCCESS Academy, and Diamond Ridge High School. So that was a mouthful – if you heard your school, awesome! If not, you’ve probably either had your FAFSA event or it’s coming up quick. But if you need to take a look at those, again, StepUpUtah.com/Events. And then the week of Thanksgiving, it slows down quite a bit since students are going to be on break, but we will have an event at Carbon High on November 20th.

Bryan: Awesome. Thanks, Katie. I just want to take a second to point out how this time of year is a lot of work for you and Jacob, travelling around the state, making all of these events happen, working with counselors to coordinate the events that maybe they’re doing themselves, so just wanted to say thank you for all your hard work.

Katie: Awwww, well thanks! And you know, we couldn’t do it without our partners, so we get a lot of help from financial aid offices, their representatives come out and volunteer. The Utah College Advising Corps, they volunteer at a lot of each other’s schools and, of course, counselors do the work to facilitate those nights on their own, too. So thanks everybody out there.

Bryan: Team effort for a lot of good work in our state.

Katie: Yea! So, Bryan, do you want to give us our FAFSA Tip of the Week?

Bryan: Yes, of course. So our FAFSA tip for this week is about custody and guardianship on the FASFA. Custody is not guardianship on the FAFSA. If the student is currently in a legal guardianship or was in a legal guardianship immediately before turning 18, that student is considered independent on the FAFSA and does not have to provide financial data for either their parents or their legal guardian. However, court papers must clearly state “guardianship” in order for the student to answer yes to that question, and that’s question #9 on the FAFSA. If the student is just living with someone other than their parents they will still be required to provide that parental information. And the guardianship and figuring out who’s the parent can be a very tricky thing on the FAFSA. We have extra resources having to do with that in our DIY Kit and on our blog at StepUpUtah.com/Blog. You’re always welcome to reach out to us too if you have any particularly tricky questions having to do with guardianship or dependency on the FAFSA. So just please reach out to us if you have any questions. And with that FAFSA Tip of the Week, we will transition to our guest interview with Max Gonzales from UEN.

Katie: This week we have Max Gonzales who is the Project Coordinator for Utah Education Network. Welcome, Max!

Max: Thank you.

Katie: Can you tell us a little about what UEN is?

Max: So, I like to describe UEN as a tech organization for all the schools, libraries, and higher ed institutions in the state of Utah. So we provide a robust network of technology resources and quality educational services. These are everything from internet itself – so all the schools in Utah, as well as libraries and universities, have internet because of Utah Education Network. We also provide a television station, that’s channel 9 for most Utahns. On that TV station we’ll air quality educational programming. We also have a couple other television stations, which is MHZ World View and FNX, which is continuous, 24/7 Native American programming. We also provide application services like e-media, which I’ll describe later, as well as learning management systems. And we also provide support services such as professional development and community engagement resources.

Katie: Wow! So really, every single person in Utah stands to benefit from something that you guys provide.

Max: Exactly.

Katie: That’s fantastic. Can you tell us a little about the history of UEN – how it got started and how it got to where it is today?

Max: The idea of a statewide education network started in 1956 with a research proposal on educational use of closed circuit TV. Fast forward to these days, we’ve upgraded our technology with the help of legislative funding, etc. to include state-of-the-art, up-to-date broadband fiber optic technology, which provides the infrastructure for all the services we provide.

Katie: Fantastic. So, I know that UEN and Utah Futures are really closely aligned right now. Can you explain for us that relationship?

Max: So, Utah Futures actually falls under the umbrella of UEN, so Utah Futures is a service of Utah Education Network.

Katie: Awesome, very cool. I’m glad that you clarified that for me. And then can you describe to us some of your favorite Utah Futures or UEN resources and how can counselors kind of integrate this for their students?

Max: UEN offers a treasure chest of educational resources. Obviously the one that I promote the most because of my job and position is Utah Futures. That’s Utah’s one-stop-shop for college and career planning. With Utah Futures, students can research colleges, careers, they can look up scholarships, take career assessments that help them match their interests to their careers. There’s a wealth of resources. Other resources include resume builders where students can input information about themselves and it builds a resume automatically. There’s also free ACT and SAT prep that students can utilize on the website. E-media is a streaming website, I like to describe it as Netflix for educators. It’s a streaming website that contains thousands of videos that teachers and students can stream for educational use. It’s all educational programming and it’s all free for everybody in the state of Utah. One final resource that I’d like to point out is Utah’s Online Library. This is more of a library resource, a research library resource, that students can use. These resources on Utah’s Online Library include EBSCO, Culturegrams, there’s also free ACT and SAT prep as well on this website. Students can also access E-Media on Utah’s Online Library and thousands of other tools.

Katie: Yea, we promote that a lot. The free ACT prep, that’s an awesome way for students to cut the cost of college because not only are they not paying to prepare for the test itself, but if they can get a higher score, maybe they can get some of those institutional scholarships that are available. So it’s great that you offer that. Where can counselors find these resources and how can they contact UEN or Utah Futures if they have questions?

Max: Good question. So, all these resources can be found at UEN.org. Utah Futures specifically can be found at UtahFutures.org. E-Media can be found at UEN.org/EMedia. And Utah’s Online Library can be found on OnlineLibrary.UEN.org/Library. If you have any questions about any of these resources, you can contact us at Resources@UEN.org.

Katie: Excellent. And we will have all of that in the transcript of this podcast as well in case you didn’t have time to write it down. Thanks for coming in, Max. We appreciate your time.

Max: Thank you.

Katie: Thanks for joining us this week. Next episode, you can expect a new FAFSA Tip of the Week, we’ll cover more news and events, and we will also have our Counselor Spotlight for the month of November. As always, we encourage your feedback, questions, and any nominations you have for counselor spotlight. You can email us at outreach@utahsbr.edu. Thanks again.

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


This is the transcript for Episode 7 (November 17th, 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.

Listen to the “Title IV + More Podcast for Counselors and Educators” on iTunes

Listen to the “Title IV + More Podcast for Counselors and Educators” on SoundCloud