This is the transcript for Episode 8 (December 8th, 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.

Jacob: Hello, listeners and welcome to this week’s edition of 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: And I am Katie Wornek. I am also a paying for college expert with StepUp Utah and I’m going to kick off our episode this week with an article from the New York Times. I love this article for a number of reasons, not the least of which is its title – it’s kind of a tongue-in-cheek title. It’s called “Let’s Waste College on the Old”. And before you judge me too harshly for brining this up, this article actually discusses the benefits of having nontraditional adult students on college campuses and it explains the need to expand those opportunities for adult learners. So, kind of a cool quote from this article I wanted to share with you is that nearly 30% of college undergraduates are adults, and for this article they defined an adult as a student who is 25 or older. But at Stanford the share of undergraduates who are adults is 1.2% (remember that generally it’s 30%), at Yale it’s .07%, at Princeton it’s .06%, and at the University of Chicago it’s .02%. So this writer who contributed to this New York Times article, he works for Washington Monthly Magazine, and they actually did a study ranking the best four- and two- year programs for adult learners. Their criteria were things like tuition and fees, flexibility of schedule and program, and income statistics after graduation, and they also looked at the ease of transferring credits from another institution. And, interestingly enough, Utah did really well in this study. So as far as the best four-year programs for adults, the University of Utah ranked #2 nationally. And then as far as two-year programs for adult learners, Weber State ranked #1 nationally and Utah Valley University (UVU) ranked #2, which is really impressive. So we have this robust, really supportive climate for adult learners in Utah. So, the reason I wanted to bring this up is just to kind of discuss what this means for students that our counselors are working with and maybe other populations that our counselors don’t see as frequently but could also help out with.

Jacob: Yea, you know it’s really interesting because those top two schools for the two-year program, I think a lot of the times when we talk about college, a lot of counselors and a lot of students have this misconception that it’s just the four-year degree, which is not what it is for everyone. I think a lot of people really do need to have that two-year degree and for some of your students, it’s tricky because we really want everyone to matriculate right out of high school because there are some definite benefits to that in terms of scholarship opportunities, in terms of just keeping that momentum.

Katie: Yea, not having that “summer slide” accentuated by years off of school.

Jacob: By years off of school. I mean, I know lots of people who have gone back as an adult and it’s really hard for them. But maybe it’s also good to talk to your students if they’re thinking, “Ok, I want to work after school.” Maybe that’s the path that really is best for them. But it is good to know that Weber and UVU have really robust resources for these adults. I mean, they’re both excellent schools. They both have a lot of these resources that these adult learners would need I think.

Katie: I agree. And I mean obviously these adult learners stand to benefit from these programs, but I think a lot of times we think about diversity in terms of race or gender, but I think diversity on campus is also, it’s abilities and age and life experience. And so I think undergraduate students who are those younger, traditional kind of 18-22 year olds can really stand to benefit from being exposed to the kind of life experiences that older populations of students have. So, I kind of have a personal story on this. When I was an undergraduate student at the University of Utah, this man named Glen was in almost all of my classes and he was a House Bill 60 student. Which, I’m probably getting the details wrong, but it’s my understanding that the state legislature gives discounted tuition rates for retired adults who want to audit classes and they can sit in for like, I think it’s like $25 a class. And so Glen was in a lot of my courses and he and I actually stayed in contact after I graduated. I used to go to lunch with him and his wife, Dorothy, all the time. And yea, I mean, Glen has passed away since, but there’s just a lot of friendship and learning that I derived from meeting him, and I wouldn’t have had that opportunity had he not been on that campus. I think it’s really important for traditional undergraduate students to be able to make these connections and establish these relationships.

Jacob: It’s also never too late to go back to school. Like if you know someone or if you’re working with students who are thinking, “Oh, my parents could never go to school”, it’s never too late to back. You could go back at any time and increase your earning potential. It can do all kinds of things to keep your mind sharp. And it’s also really great to know that we have such good, affordable options here in Utah for people to be able to go back to school. I mean, a lot of employers have tuition benefits they’ll offer as well and if they’ve never taken any kind of federal aid and they’ve never received a degree, they might still be eligible for some of that federal aid that’s on the table.

Katie: Absolutely.

Jacob: So there’s definitely options for them.

Katie: Yea, and you know, it makes me think of, I met a counselor down South in Grand County who, I mean, in those rural populations, high school counselors sometimes wear a couple of different hats, so they’re not just working in a high school, they might be providing services in the community as far as counseling goes. So, if anyone out there, if you feel like that description fits the bill for you, this might be something to talk about with the adult populations that you’re serving. Alright, anything else, Jacob?

Jacob: I think we’re great.

Katie: Great. So the second article I wanted us to talk about is from Higher Ed Matters, which is the newsletter that the Commissioner of Higher Education sends out in Utah. And the article is called “November’s Utah College Application Week Events Give Students the Opportunity to Apply to College During the School Day”, which obviously our counselors know that, but just a couple of quick snippets about UCAW this (past) month. Governor Herbert declared November of 2017 as Utah College Application Month. It kicked off with a statewide celebration at Cyprus High School on November 10. And we don’t have data from this year’s UCAW events yet, but in 2016 nearly 20,000 students applied for admission to college and 86% of them responded that they were more interested in going to college after high school as a result of the Utah College Application Week events. So, like I said, we’ll have more statistics on this year’s Utah College Application Week. I know you guys are just wrapping up those events for the month of November, but I wanted you to know that this is really making an impact for your students.

Jacob: Yea, it’s been really awesome as I’ve been going to different schools to coordinate these FAFSA Completion Open Houses to see how excited these counselors are about Utah College Application Week. They really love it. They love the opportunity to talk to students about what it means to get involved in higher ed and we have a lot of counselors that graduated from some of our great institutions here in Utah, so they’ll talk about the benefits of going to this school or the benefits of going to that school. It just really creates this college-going culture in the school, not just for the seniors, but for the rest of the school as they see that, “Oh! My senior year I get to participate in this event and I get to apply to college and there’s lots of great opportunities for me to get help to know how I can prepare for college.” It’s really awesome to see the great momentum that we have surrounding this kind of college-going culture.

Katie: I agree. I was at Highland High School for their FAFSA Completion Open House during their UCAW and they had one of the bulletin boards in the main hallway had graduation pictures or graduation announcements or just pictures in general of teachers during their college days. So it was kind of a fun way to get students engaged and see that, hey, these people that make a difference in your life, they went to college and so can you. I thought it was really cute and clever.

Jacob: Another thing that I’ve noticed is that events that aligned the FAFSA Completion Open Houses with their UCAW such much better turnout. Just in the sense that they’re already talking about college, they’re already talking about the first step is you apply and of course the next step is, “How do I pay for this?” right? And so a lot of the teachers and counselors were working really hard to make sure that they knew that, you know, you apply for college, but that’s not the last step. You still want to file your FAFSA, even if you are not sure what you’re going to qualify for. It’s always good to have the option to make sure you have every financial pathway open to you. And a lot of these events that had aligned with UCAW really had great turnout and they said that it was really valuable for them to align it with them.

Katie: Yea! So, if your school participated in UCAW this year, congratulations on a job well done and thank you for your hard work. If you did not participate and you have questions about doing so next year, you can email ucaw@ushe.edu. Alright, Jacob, with that, I’m going to turn it over to you for our event calendar.

Jacob: Alright. Our event calendar is not quite as full as it has been over the past two months, which is kind of nice. So, to see a full list of our events, you can visit stepuputah.com/events for the full calendar to get the details of the location and the time. But next week, which is the week of December 4th, we have a few events. We have, for FAFSA Completion Open Houses, we have Viewmont High School, Syracuse High School, Layton High School, Cedar City High School, Clearfield High School, Northridge High School, Mountain Crest High School, Mountain View High School, Innovations Early College High School, Kanab High School, and Copper Hills High School. And then that next week, on the 13th of December we have REAL Academy. Then we won’t have any more until about January 18th, so if you haven’t done your FAFSA, or if you have students who haven’t been able to attend one of these events, like they couldn’t attend the one at your school, feel free to send them to those. Again, you can visit stepuputah.com/events.

Katie: And Jacob and I will miss being out in the field during that kind of hiatus and so, if you do have questions about FAFSA completion, you can always call or email us and we’re happy to help.

Jacob: Yea. And then, just to give you all an update, we recently attended a conference which was the Jump Start Summit on November 9th, which was a little while ago. It’s been a little busy with the Thanksgiving holiday and everything. Jump Start is a financial literacy teacher kind of organization I guess you could say. There were about 200 financial literacy teachers in attendance. We presented, it was a really great opportunity to present. And a lot of people don’t know this, but Utah is only one of five states that mandates financial literacy curriculum for high school students and I think this kind of is an interesting statistic and fact considering that we also have relatively low student debt here in our state. If you want to learn more about Jump Start and what they do, you can visit them at utahjumpstart.org. But it was a really great conference, we learned some great things and met some great people. And with that, we are going to go ahead and transition to the FAFSA Tip of the Week with Katie.

Katie: Excellent. Alright, so our theme for these tips in the month of November has been dependency status. So, this week’s tip is what to do if a student who’s applying for the FAFSA has a child of their own. So, if a student does have a child, or is expecting a child by the time they start their fall semester of college, they are not automatically considered independent on the FAFSA. This is a pretty pervasive myth. That student is only considered independent if they provide more than half their child’s financial support. This rule also applies to anyone else who is placed in your student’s care. So if they’re providing the financial support for a younger sibling for example, your student would be considered independent on the FAFSA. So, just as a reminder, having a baby does not make you independent on the FAFSA, providing more than 50% of the support for your baby does. Alright, so Jacob, I’m going to have you wrap up our episode with the Counselor Spotlight of the Month.

Jacob: Awesome. So, I’ve been to a lot of FAFSA events…a lot of FAFSA events over the past month and I really wanted to highlight one that I was really impressed with. Recently, I went to Fremont High School, so shout-out to them. Last, when was it, I think it was February or March when Katie and I first started working at UHEAA we attended an event there and it was a little later in the year for the FAFSA season and we didn’t actually have that great of a turnout. We only had about 8 students show up.

Katie: It was also a blizzard. I remember driving back home in that, so that might have been a factor.

Jacob: Yea! That could have been a factor as well. But this year, they did a really awesome job. Their scholarship coordinator, Denice Scott, is awesome to work with. So, first of all, the turnout was substantially better. There were about 44 students, which was great. It was great, we had some help from Weber State and I was there. Some things that they did that I really thought were awesome is they really did a ton of advertising. Texts, emails, posters, everything you can imagine, including the day of, they sent out texts and reminders to students to make sure that they would come for the FAFSA Completion Event. It was also aligned with their UCAW, which is something that I mentioned earlier. They really kind of liked aligning it with that so that they could have this whole college-going week and they could talk about financial aid in the context of applying for college. They got some teachers to offer incentives. One teacher offered extra credit for students who attended the event, which was really appreciated by the students. There were cookies and soda, as well. And I just really felt like they did an excellent job of kind of taking an event that, in the past, they hadn’t had great turnout, and they worked really hard and they did an excellent job of getting the turnout to be, you know, five times more than it was before. So, great job, Fremont High counseling team! We really appreciate all the work you do and, keep it up and we’ll see what happens next year.

Katie: Great! Yea, I agree with that assessment. I mean, I’ve met Denice and a couple of their counselors through trainings or different events and they’re always super friendly and awesome to work with and I commend their hard efforts. Well, thanks Jacob. That is it for this episode. Next episode you can expect a new FAFSA Tip of the Month theme for December. Can you believe it’s December already?

Jacob: Crazy.

Katie: We’ll also cover more education headlines and an event calendar and we will, of course, next month, have another counselor spotlight. So, if you have any nominations for that, please send them our way. Our email address is outreach@utahsbr.edu. You can also email us there with questions concerns, comments…even if it doesn’t pertain to the podcast. We’d love to hear from you. Thanks so much!

Jacob: See you next time.

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 8 (December 8th, 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