This is the transcript for Season 2, Episode 6 (December 17th, 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.

Jacob: Welcome listeners to Title IV + More, StepUp Utah’s Counselor and educator podcast. I am Jacob Newman and I am a paying for college expert.

Katie: And I am Katie Wornek, also a paying for college expert. I will lead this episode with our news headlines for the week and we have two exciting announcements for you. This first one comes as a press release from the Utah System of Higher Education and its regarding Pell Grant awards at Utah colleges and universities for this last school year, the 2017-2018 school year. This is excellent news; we saw an increase in Pell Grant awards. Students at USHE institutions received nearly 223 million dollars in Pell Grant money last school year. But that money doesn’t mean a lot if we don’t have some context to talk about it. So, what that breaks down to was over 50,000 individual students received a Pell Grant award to use at USHE institutions and, if we do the math there, that means the average Pell Grant award per student worked out to be just over 4,000 dollars which is significant in Utah. So I want to, kind of, discuss this with you Jacob and see what the significance is here that you have noticed

Jacob: I think the thing that’s really great to notice about this is a lot of students are accessing Federal Financial Aid and they are receiving those Pell Grants. We have such low tuition here in Utah too it makes it so, this makes college affordable for students. This makes it so they can afford the cost of tuition and fees and hopefully not take out as much in Federal Student Loans.

Katie: Absolutely and I hope next year we see even more Pell Grant awards, the more students who apply the more students who are going to get Pell Grant awards. So let’s hope that increases in the years to come! I’d also like to just point out that these students can take advantage of additional programs beyond the Pell Grant that are stackable with their Pell Grant award. The two that come to mind are the promise programs at Weber State and Salt Lake Community College. So, Salt Lake Community College Promise and Dream Weber, they will cover any gap in tuition and fees if Pell Grant was not enough for the student. So that’s something they should consider as well as your students are applying for admission and completing their FAFSA, kinda consider those costs and some of the supplemental programs that can help them. Alright, and our second news headline that is also from USHE this is over 36,000 Utah high school students participated in concurrent enrollment last year! This is that time of year now that, it’s almost the turn of the calendar year that we’re getting these reports from the 2018 school year. So, last year, over 36,000 students participated in concurrent enrollment and that was a 10.6% increase over the previous year, the 2016-17 year. So quite a few more students were participating in the program and if we calculate that out collectively they saved and average of 48.7 million dollars in their future tuition expenses, which is no drop in the bucket that is a significant amount. So I think that the importance of this is just to remind students as they’re starting to enroll for their classes next year, whether they’re 10th or 11th graders and they’re registering with you, keep in mind concurrent enrollment. Even if the student isn’t self-selecting into that program or might not think it’s for them, if you think they can swing it, it’s a good idea to discuss all the benefits they can derive from enrolling in those classes.

Jacob: Yeah, there’s a lot to be said about concurrent enrollment classes beyond just the cost savings I think as well. It gives students that college knowledge, they get experience with a real college course, it’s a rigorous course obviously. One advantage of it over AP or IP is that there’s not necessarily one final test that determines if they get the college credit or not. They do need to take the course seriously because it does end up on their college transcript but it does give them the opportunity to get the college credit without having it all weighted on one test at the end of the year, which I think is a really good advantage for a lot of the students who might have some of that test anxiety of issues like that.

Katie: Yeah, thank you so much Jacob. So that is it for our new headlines for the week, moving on to our event calendar. This one is not so much an in person event but it is an exciting digital one that we want to share with you. We started this last year and we want to do it again, its called the twelve days of scholarships. So, during the first two and a half weeks of December we’re going to be posting a new scholarship opportunity on our StepUp Utah social media accounts every day. So encourage your students to follow @SteUpUtah on Instagram and twitter and they will get that update every day of the new scholarship, and at the end if they missed any of them we are going to put all twelve of them together on one blog and were going to put that whole list on stepuputah/blog if they want to see it there. And as a second reminder, because it’s the season of giving, we have a little holiday message from our friends at My529. If you have a 529 account for your own children or your grandchildren or yourself or your next door neighbor, whoever that might be, they want you to remember to get your account contributions posted in order to reap the benefits of 2018 for your taxes.

Jacob: Awesome! And, with that, I am going to continue on to our next segment. For the past couple of weeks we have been doing some FAFSA tips and our tip for this week is to meet students and parents where they are and were gonna talk about some of the best practices throughout the country and some of these have even been implemented in our schools in Utah this year and they worked really well so I’ll speak to that a little bit also. So to give you an idea of some of the good work that is going on around the country, in Mississippi they would, college access personnel would attend events like sporting events and they would hand out rally rags, a rag to wipe your sweat off, with the motto “first you hafta FAFSA” and this logo they have created is actually pretty cute and you can license it for free! You can find information online about how to license that as well. In Louisiana, this is an interesting one, I am not sure how this would work in Utah but it is something to consider, is they would have FAFSA completion at sporting events. So they would work with students and parents to get them to the sporting events and they would be able to complete the FAFSA at the sporting events. One sporting event they mentioned that was particularly popular in the schools they worked in was Basketball. And this is even easier now with the mobile app. Students and parents could work together using the mobile app to complete the FAFSA. In Ohio, one thing that they did that really helped to make students and parents feel comfortable was they posted FAFSA completion events in public spaces like libraries and community centers. The schools they were working in in particular there was a large refugee population and they felt like sometimes it was easier to meet students and parents in the places they congregate naturally already, so that’s a consideration to keep in mind. IN Arizona they would hold culturally appropriate events called “FAFSA Fiestas”. So, they would have food and childcare and door prizes and we actually saw something similar to this at one of our schools Granger High School. They actually hired a taco truck to come to the event and Katie went and said the tacos were amazing.

Katie: Yes, so apparently this taco truck is usually parked on the street near the Fresh Market so it is pretty popular with the Granger students. So, they just approached this business and said “here’s the lump sum we can afford to give you, heres how many students were think are going to come and how many tacos we can serve” and each student got a raffle ticket after they left and they went and ate dinner after completing their FAFSA.

Jacob: And that’s a pretty amazing incentive if you think about it it kinda builds this buzz, you could partner with local businesses it’s a great advertising opportunity for them honestly because theres going to be students there who will purchase this and who knows they might frequent the business again in the future. It works really well to have those simple incentives and childcare especially can be a real barrier for parents especially first generation students or students of low income families. Childcare is often something that can be difficult to find if they want in person help. So, you could partner with the childcare at your high school or if you can find some way to make that work for parents that’s really helpful.

Katie: One thing that I did notice at Granger too, just to give them the kudos they deserve, is that although they didn’t do that formal arrangement of childcare, what they did do was there was a conjoining room next to the computer lab with window so you could see in. They utilized that room with the whiteboard and the markers in there so that the younger students the younger siblings they could go in, they were playing hangman and drawing on the whiteboard and it was just a lot of fun for them and it kept them occupied and we had enough volunteers and enough parents that they were always safe and sound in that room and if there were any issues we could have picked up on them.

Jacob: And finally in Wyoming one thing that they did that was effective and cost effective in a lot of ways, cuz we know that school budgets can be thin. A lot of times students and parents they just need that one on one assistance and Katie and I have seen this a lot in our work, especially if it’s a complex family situation or if it’s a student who might need that extra nudge to get the FAFSA completed. In Wyoming they offered one on one assistance from para-professionals, these para-professionals would be trained on FAFSA completion and then they would help parents and students by providing that one on one assistance to help them understand what it meant after they were done. You know, what does an award letter look like and how to navigate that space after completing the FAFSA. Any other thoughts on any of those Katie or any other best practice you have noticed from events in the past year?

Katie: Not particularly, I would just say you know the culture and the demographic and the, you know your school better than anybody so if some of these seem like “hey that’s gonna be a good fit for us” and some of them are like “hey were not as into sports here we don’t get as good of attendance so maybe that one isn’t gonna work” pick and choose those and apply them appropriately to your school and just know whats gonna be best for your student population.

Jacob: alright and with that, we will sign off for the day. This will be our only episode in December due to the holiday break so we will see you next year!

Katie: Thanks for joining us!

Bryan: StepUp to Higher Education is an outreach initiative of the state of Utah that empowers 8th-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 1-year certificate, a 2-year degree, a 4-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 access and outreach materials, or request a StepUp Utah event at your school at StepUpUtah.com. And last but not least, 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 follow 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.