This is the transcript for Episode 18 (May 24, 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.

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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: 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.

Katie: Welcome, listeners. My name is Katie Wornek and I am a paying for college expert with StepUp Utah.

Jacob: And I’m Jacob Newman and I’m also a paying for college expert with StepUp Utah. I’m going to kick us off today with some education news. We only have one piece, but it’s a good piece. This is about the Pell Grant increase. So, we briefly mentioned this in the previous episode, but Federal Student Aid released a Dear Colleague letter in April and these are letters that give guidance about federal student aid and other topics as well. And the maximum Pell Grant award for the 2018-19 award year actually increased, which is great news. It is now $6,095 and the minimum Pell Grant award for the year is $650, which is really great. There’s also going to be a link to the letter in the transcript if you’re interested in reading more about that announcement. And it’s great to see Pell Grant increases because it really helps underrepresented populations to be able to access higher ed in particular.

Katie: Yea, so if your students filed the FAFSA let’s say at their FAFSA Night and they had that estimated Pell at the bottom of their confirmation page, you can share the good news with them that that might actually be going up.

Jacob: In terms of events that we have coming up, we have a few on the docket. It’s hard to believe that it’s already the end of the school year pretty much and that we’re looking to the summer and already to the next fall. The first event we want to mention is that we’re going to be at the USOE summer conference and that’s June 12-13 at Wasatch High School in Heber. And the entire StepUp team will be giving breakout sessions about USHE – Utah System of Higher Ed – in which we’ll give updates on all things USHE and StepUp programming and resources for the next year, so we hope to see you there so you can get some updated information. And, since it’s pretty much the end of the school year, there are some big events that we want you to know about for this next school year to put on your calendar now to kind of save the date. The first big event that we have coming up in the fall is the USHE Counselor Conference. That event is in Provo on September 14, but you can sign up now for free. There’s a link to registration on our website. You can just search “2018 USHE Conference” in the search bar on StepUp Utah for more information. The next event is the Utah School Counselor Association (USCA) Fall Conference. This is from October 4-5. It’s a great opportunity to network with other counselors throughout the state and it’s a great opportunity for professional development. For more details about that, you can go to UTSchoolCounselor.org. And, finally, an event that we want you to get on your calendars is Expect the Great. This is October 5-6 at Salt Lake Community College. This is a college and career readiness event for Black, African, and African-American students and communities in Utah. You can look for more information on that at ExpectTheGreatUtah.com. And I think that’s all the events we have for this week, so we’re going to go ahead and turn the time over to Katie for our FAFSA Tip of the Week.

Katie: Yes, and this is our season finale, so the tip that I wanted to cover is how to help late FAFSA filers, students who haven’t quite gotten around to filling it out yet and they’re close to graduation and how to help them avoid that summer melt where, you know, maybe they’ve applied for admission to college but haven’t filled out their FAFSA. That could be the make or break that determines over the summer whether or not they’re actually going to enroll in the fall. So, it’s nearly time for graduation, which is crazy to think about. And if you have seniors who are intending or planning to attend in the fall but still haven’t completed their FAFSA, please let them know that it is not too late. They may have missed out on their college’s priority deadline for scholarships and institutional aid, but they can still qualify for federal and state financial aid if they’re filing at this time of year. If your students do need help in the summer, please send them our way. Not a lot of people know this, but Jacob and I are actually happy to set up an appointment at our office with students and maybe their families too if they need to come and get help with the FAFSA. We have an office where we have access to a computer and we can sit down and help them fill it out, or if they need to call us and just ask some questions from home, that is fine as well. So, if you want to direct them our way, our office is in downtown Salt Lake City, so we’re pretty accessible for a lot of students in northern Utah, Utah County, Salt Lake Valley. And if you want to refer them to us, you can reach me at 801-321-7245 – just tell them to ask for Katie. And your students can reach Jacob at 801-366-8487. And with that, we will do our guest interview for the week with Jenny Sass of My529.

Katie: So, on May 29th, we will be celebrating 529 Day. As a result, this week we have asked Jenny Sass to come on as our guest interview. She works as an Outreach Specialist for My529, which was formerly known as the Utah Educational Savings Plan or UESP. Welcome, Jenny.

Jenny: Hi!  Thanks for having me.

Katie: Thanks for coming. Can you tell us a little about My529 and how it can help students and their families pay for higher education?

Jenny: Sure, sure. So, Utah has actually a great 529 plan. Every state has a 529 plan. Ours was established in 1996, so we have a track record of over 20 years of success. There are many advantages to using a 529 plan. Earnings are not subject to federal or state tax when used for qualified higher education expenses, such as tuition and mandatory fees, computers, equipment, supplies, books, room and board, as well as an addition of K-12 tuition expenses at public, private, and religious schools up to $10,000 per year.

Katie: That’s awesome. That’s excellent. Can you share with us some details about My529 Day? We know it correlates with May 29th for obvious reasons, but what does that celebration look like for you guys?

Jenny: Sure, sure. There’s a couple of nationally recognized celebrations throughout the year and one of them is 529 Day, which is May 29th, which you probably see the correlation there. Every year we do something fun to incentivize new account owners in the state of Utah. This year, we have a $25 match, so let me just kind of go over the criteria for that. But I do encourage people to visit our website – we do have a promotional page where they can learn more about this opportunity and take advantage of it. So, if you contribute at least $25 to a new My529 account, we will match that. So, if you meet the criteria for that – and that would be a new account owner that resides in Utah, but the beneficiary can be either in or outside of Utah. And then that can be for multiple accounts that are opened. In addition, we’re encouraging people as well to continue to contribute to their account, so to set up a recurring contribution, and if they do that they’re eligible for another $15. Again, just to get all the details for that, go to my529.org and you can get everything you need to know to get that set up.

Katie: That’s excellent. I’m glad that we’re giving that opportunity out to families in Utah. So, your job is with community outreach for My529, and I know that you do a lot of tabling at different events for counselors and for educators or parents and families. What are some of the upcoming events where people can find you and connect with you?

Jenny: Excellent, yea, we have a number of things both community-wise as well as education related. You can find us May 23rd and 24th at the PTA Leadership Convention (that’s down in Utah County). On June 2nd, we’ll be having a booth at the Girls on the Run 5K at Sugarhouse Park. On June 11th, we’ll be at Family Fun Days at the Gallivan Center. And then on June 12th-13th, we’ll have a booth at the annual Student Advocacy Services Summer Conference at Wasatch High School up in Heber.

Katie: We will be there, as well. I’m sure our booths will be side-by-side as always! And I know a lot of our counselors will be there too. If our listeners are interested in setting up their own account through you guys or instructing their students to create a My529 account, how do they go about doing that?

Jenny: They can just go directly to our website. That’s going to be the easiest, so if you go to my529.org, click on “start”, that will give you all the directions that you need to get started. In addition, I wanted to mention that our marketing coordinator, Terryn Owen, is working specifically with school counselors to provide our junior high-high school brochure,  so they can reach out to her and she’s reached at towen@my529.org and she can provide brochures for pretty much everybody in your school if you would like those.

Katie: That’s excellent. Is that free of charge?

Jenny: Yes.

Katie: Ok, perfect. And if anyone has additional questions that we haven’t covered in this interview, what are some of the additional resources they can use, or who should they be contacting?

Jenny: We have a great operations team that has been recognized for their customer service, so I would encourage you to call them at 1-800-418-2551 with any questions you may have. In addition, our website is a great resource, and that’s my529.org.

Katie: Excellent, well, thank you for joining us and happy 529 Day!

Jenny: Yea, thank you! I appreciate it.

Jacob: Perfect. Thank you, Jenny, for joining us again. We thank all of you listeners for listening to us this season of the Title IV + More podcast. We really appreciate everything that you do for all of our students here in the state. And, just to let you know, season 2 will debut early next school year. So until next school year, see ya then.

Katie: See ya! Enjoy your summer!

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.


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

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

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.