This is the transcript for Episode 10 (January 11, 2018)) 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Bryan: Welcome and thank you for listening to StepUp Utah’s Title IV + More Podcast for Counselors and Educators. This podcast is brought to you by StepUp to Higher Education Utah, helping Utah’s students and parents prepare and pay for college. Find more about us at StepUpUtah.com.
Jacob: Hello, listeners. This is Jacob Newman and I’m a paying for college expert with StepUp Utah.
Katie: And I am Katie Wornek, also a paying for college expert with StepUp Utah. I’m going to kick us off today with some news headlines. The first one is from ABC 4 News and it’s about Governor Herbert seeking support for his new education plan. This plan is called Utah’s Education Roadmap and he is currently seeking funding for it. He went on record as stating, “We’re going to have the most educated, trained, skilled workforce in America, which means more and more people are going to want to come here to set up their businesses.” So, to break it down, there are four goals to this program. There’s a focus on early childhood education, teacher retention and support, support for at-risk rural and low-income students, and the last goal of the program is an emphasis on postsecondary education, including career and technical education. That’s all the details we have about it for now, but I would keep an eye out for more details pertaining to Utah’s Educational Roadmap. It sounds like a really exciting program. And the next article I wanted to actually have a roundtable discussion on because, Jacob, I know you have been doing a lot of research on this as well. So, there’s a lot of articles about this and you can read the actual bill itself, but I chose one from Inside Higher Ed because I know they’re a reliable source and we’ll have a link to this article in our transcript for this podcast that’s a really good summary of what we’re going to be talking about, which is the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. So the Higher Education Act from 1965 is, among other things, it’s what set up Title IV, so it’s what initiated the Pell Grant and federal student loans. And it’s supposed to be reauthorized every five years, but they had an extension in 2012. There really haven’t been any changes to the Higher Education Act since 2008. So, this iteration they’re actually calling it the PROPSPER Act, which stands for “Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform”. We know the federal government loves its acronyms, so that’s what that stands for! There’s a couple of suggestions in here that would affect counselors and their students, so this is really what we want to pay attention to in this roundtable discussion. So the changes to higher education – first, they’d be changing federal student aid to a one grant, one work-study, one loan program. There’s a lot of different grants and loans available to students right now and they’re going to try to simplify that down quite a bit. One of the other major changes is “Super Pell” is what they’re calling it, which means if a student is Pell Grant-eligible and they complete more than 30 credits per year, they can get an additional $300 on top of their Pell award for that year, which is actually pretty awesome. Another change we wanted to bring up is the elimination of loan subsidies and origination fees. Kind of a little-known fact that federal student loans come with origination fees, so there’s a proposal to get rid of that. They want to cut repayment options to just two plans, so there would be one plan that’s a standard 10-year repayment for federal students loans and another plan that’s income-drive, which means I think it’s no more than 15% of your income can be used to repay student loans. So that really pertains more to if you are currently a counselor who has federal student loans, keep an eye out for that. There’s also the elimination of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. So this means that if you work in public service for 10 years and you’re making payments on your federal student loans, it could be forgiven. And this is things like if you’re working in public office, or as a public safety officer they’re proposing getting rid of that. But luckily there’s not really any word of them getting rid of the equivalent, which is the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program where if you work in a low-income or a needy district for five years you can get your loans forgiven up to a certain amount. Some other exciting news that is proposed in this bill is that they want to make a FAFSA mobile app and they’re saying that could debut as early as this spring. And they want to start distributing aid like a paycheck, so instead of getting your payment from your federal aid at the beginning of the semester, it would be every two weeks or every month just like a paycheck would be. So, Jacob, sorry! That was a mouthful! I’m actually going to hand it over to you for some commentary. I want you to pick out a couple of these that you’ve been researching and kind of tell us what you think the implications are for students and counselors.
Jacob: So I think there are definitely some pros and some cons with this bill, like every other bill. I think it’s going to go through some changes. Some of the things I really like – I really love the idea of this Super Pell. I think that will really help encourage students to complete within the four year time frame because we know that a lot of students will kind of drag out their education for six years or maybe eight years sometimes, so I think that’s a really great incentive. I love that they’re getting rid of origination fees, I think that was a fee that was unnecessary. I love that they’re finally joining the 21st century and getting a mobile app for FAFSA, that’s definitely long overdue. But, I do have some concerns about the elimination of loan subsidies. For those students who do demonstrate financial need, those loan subsidies that mean that students don’t have to pay the interest that accrues during school are really nice. I’m also a little concerned about the lack of repayment plans. Right now, the repayment process is very complicated, but I think that only having two plans really limits the options for borrowers in terms of how they’re going to repay their student loans. So there’s some good sides and some bad sides I think, like any bill. It’s just something to keep our eyes on I think.
Katie: Yea, I think you made a good point at the beginning that we don’t know anything for sure. This bill could change, it could not pass, any number of outcomes could happen. So I appreciate your insight and I’m actually going to hand it over to you now for the event calendar.
Jacob: We have a few events coming up this month. On the 18th of January there will be a College, Career, and Community Fair at Northwest Middle School that will be attended by StepUp. That’s at night I believe.
Jacob: And then the week of the 22nd of January we have four FAFSA Completion Open Houses. The first one is on Monday the 22nd and it’s at Grantsville High. Then there’s another one on Tuesday the 23rd at Stansbury High. And then on the 24th there are two FAFSA Completion Open Houses which, one of them is at Orem High School and the other one is at Granite Park Jr. High, which is an additional FAFSA event for individuals who were not able to make it to the Cottonwood High School event. Again, all of these events are open to the public. If you want more information about any events that we have or any events that might come up in the meantime, you can visit StepUpUtah.com/Events to see a list of all the events that we have going on. Alright, we’re going to go ahead and transition now to the FAFSA Tip of the Week. Remember that this month’s tip theme has been student demographic information. A common question that we get when students are filling out the FAFSA is this: “Does Concurrent Enrollment, IB, or AP affect the way a student reports their level of schooling on the FAFSA?” This is actually a very common question, I’ve probably heard it three dozen times while helping students complete their FAFSA so I’m going to give some insights on this. Question 29 on the FAFSA asks, “What will your college grade level be when you begin the school year?” High school seniors should always always always answer, “Never attended college” and “First year undergraduate”. Even if they earn college credit through programs such as Concurrent Enrollment, AP, IB, a good rule of thumb is to remember this: if you don’t have a high school diploma or its equivalent, you can’t enroll as a true undergraduate. So, for your high school seniors who are still filling out the FAFSA, remember that they’re going to put “Never attended college” and “First year undergraduate”. Alright, now Katie’s going to give us a counseling team spotlight.
Katie: Yea, so this month I had the honor of getting to choose who our counseling team was going to be. And I kind of cheated because this isn’t technically a counseling team, but I wanted to recognize UCAC, which is the Utah College Advising Corps. It’s a program that’s run through the University of Utah and there are 12 schools throughout the Wasatch Front that have a UCAC advisor assigned to them. The goal of this program, these students are fresh out of college, this is kind of an early job for most of them. And their focus is to help underrepresented, sometimes low-income, first generation – they’ll help anybody – but the focus is really to increase college access for those populations. And these UCAC advisors do an amazing job. They are so engaged with what they do. When it comes to getting phone calls about FAFSA questions or college admissions questions in general or college readiness, I think we hear from UCAC advisors more than we hear from any other group. And I’m so happy to say that because they’re an honor to work with, they’re a joy, they’re so much fun. They really care about what they do, so I want to thank them for being so invested in their jobs and tell them to keep up the good work.
Jacob: Awesome. Yea, it’s really great to see them being spotlighted because they really do a lot of awesome work. Since they’re so focused on this college readiness we really appreciate all that they do to help us improve FAFSA completion and improve college access for those underrepresented populations. Alright everyone, thank you so much for joining us. In the next episode, we’ll have a FAFSA tip, we’ll talk about some news and events, and we’re going to have a special interview about the Utah School Counselor Association. As always, we encourage your feedback, questions, and counselor spotlight nominations. Until next time – we’ll see ya!
Bryan: StepUp to Higher Education is an outreach initiative of the State of Utah that empowers 8th through 12th grade students and their families to prepare for college. We believe every Utah student should pursue education after high school, whether that be a one-year certificate, a two-year degree, a four-year degree, or beyond that. We provide programs and resources to encourage college prep and success, as well as training and materials for school counselors like you. Thanks for listening to this episode of the Title IV + More Podcast for Counselors and Educators. You can find more about us, order outreach and access materials, or request a StepUp Utah event at your school at StepUpUtah.com. And lastly, be sure to follow us on social media. You can find us at Facebook.com/StepUpUtah, also on Instagram and Twitter by searching for @StepUpUtah. You can also find our Outreach Officers on social media, as well. Just search for @StepUpKatie and @StepUpJacob.
This is the transcript for Episode 10 (January 11, 2018) 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.