This is the transcript for Season 2, Episode 12 (March 28th, 2019) 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.


Katie: 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 go ahead and get us started with some news headlines this week. There’s a new report from the Congressional Committee on Education and Labor and this report is called “Don’t Stop Believin’ (In the Value of a College Degree)”, a little bit of a cheesy title, but, it does have some really good findings that we’re going to talk about. To download the full report, you can go to edlabor.house.gov. Here’s some key takeaways that are really interesting from this report. First of all, bachelor’s degree holders earn up to $1 million more than high school graduates over their lifetimes. Associate’s degree holders earn up to $400,000 more than high school graduates over their lifetimes. So both of these really speak to the potential of students who earn a lot more money over their lifetimes if they pursue postsecondary training or education. Shifting to more of a policy standpoint, for every $1 states invest in higher education, they receive up to $4.50 in increased tax revenue and lower reliance on government assistance. This is partially related to the fact that we know that those who do purpose postsecondary education lead healthier, happier lives and are able to have more economic and financial stability. And one thing that is good for you to know, as well, is that 2 out of every 3 jobs are now filled by individuals who have at least some college education. So I think we’re going to open this up and have a little bit of a discussion about this because this really relates to a lot of the topics we’ve been talking about over the last couple of weeks as well.

Katie: Yea, I think it specifically relates to – about a month ago on our podcast  we covered a story from USHE, Utah System of Higher Education and their 2018 annual report –  and it talked about the fact that 18% of Utah’s adult population attended college but did not finish their degree or certificate. So I think it’s important to reiterate all of the resources that are out there to help students in terms of college persistence and college completion so that they can really take advantage of this new labor market that we’re seeing in the 21st century.

Jacob: Yea, and a lot of adults who have some college or no degree kind of forget what the college process is like, they think it’s too late to go back – it’s never too late to go back, especially if you look at those lifetime earnings, that could really be such a boon to financial and economic stability for you and your family. Another thing that’s good to know is that it’s never too late. I mean, you could take advantage of federal financial aid to help pay for your college, whether that’s grants or work-study or federal student loans – that’s a really great option to know about and to be able to take advantage of.

Katie: Excellent. And with that, we’re transition over to our events for the upcoming couple of weeks. We just want to put out a couple of reminders here that we have some deadlines for our personal programs through StepUp. First, our FAFSA Cup application is due April 15th. And, as a reminder, the FAFSA Cup is a competition where high school counseling teams can talk about the work that they do at their school to help students file the FAFSA and navigate the financial pathway to higher education. We reward you with lunch, a HUGE trophy, and a $750 professional development grant. So if that is something that your counseling team is interested in, please hop on stepuputah.com, use the search bar to search for FAFSA Cup, and submit your application by April 15th. Additionally, we have a scholarship contest for 8th-11th graders called StepUp to College Costs. Your students can learn more on stepuputah.com, just search “StepUp to College Costs” and their applications are also due by midnight on April 15th. And last but not least, we have started accepting event requests for our FAFSA completion events for next school year. If you would like to host a FAFSA completion event at your high school for your seniors and their families after October 1 of next school year, you can request an event by visiting stepuputah.com, click on “for educators”, and then “request events” If you fill out that form by May 3rd, we can guarantee that we can help you schedule your event and get you sufficient coverage or resources to help you plan that event successfully. Again, we just ask that you have your event request in by May 3rd of this school year.

Jacob: And it’s good to remember that, while we try to attend as many events as possible, we do partner with financial aid offices and other college access entities throughout the state to provide coverage and training about financial aid to provide coverage for your event so that you’ll feel comfortable. With over 125 events through, someone from UHEAA or StepUp can’t always attend in person, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t love you necessarily. It just means that we’re trying to maximize the resources that we have available.

Katie: Yea, and it does take us about, you know, the entire summer to work with all of our colleges and universities across the state to coordinate those volunteers, so that’s why we ask for those event requests to be in in the spring so we have the summer to coordinate. And with that, I will transition over to our guest interview this week with Dayan Castaneda.

Katie: Alright, this week’s guest is Dayan Castaneda, and she is a Graduate Assisatant with the Dream Center at the Office of Engagement at the University of Utah. Welcome, Dayan!

Dayan: Hi, Katie.

Katie: So, tell us a little bit about the Dream Center.

Dayan: So the Dream Center is at the University of Utah. We are actually the first Dream Center in the state of Utah. We’re under the Office of Engagement and we were created about 2 years ago. We are a center that focuses on helping undocumented students to and through higher education. And that could be through scholarships, through mentoring, through one-on-one advising meetings. We are here to make sure that undocumented students know that higher education is attainable and supporting them to get there.

Katie: Excellent. What financial aid opportunities are available for undocumented students in Utah?

Dayan: So, undocumented students are available to apply and receive private scholarships. So, we’re going to talk a little bit more about the policies that have been passed, but because of SB253, undocumented students are able to apply for private scholarships and we as a Dream Center have our website, dream.utah.edu where we put scholarships that either are being promoted or given to undocumented students through the University of Utah or private organizations or private businesses. And we promote them on our website.

Katie: Excellent. And can you give us a brief summary of just general higher education policy in Utah as it pertains to undocumented students?

Dayan: Yea, so there are two policies that are super important for counselors and teachers to know. The first policy is HB144, also known as House Bill 144, and that bill pretty much states that undocumented students that have attended a Utah high school for three or more years are eligible to receive in-state tuition in the state of Utah. And the way it works is the student has to graduate from a Utah high school and then they have to enroll and apply for an institution in the Utah System of Higher Education, and then they have to sign and submit and affidavit as students who get accepted to that school.

Katie: Excellent.

Dayan: And then the second policy is Utah Senate Bill 253 that happened in 2015. And that’s kind of the bill I mentioned earlier about private scholarships. And pretty much what that bill has stated is that undocumented students are able to receive private scholarships no matter how many years they attended the Utah high school as long as they’ve graduated from the Utah high school. So you will see undocumented students that don’t qualify for HB144 because they’ve only been here in the state of Utah for 2 years, but because they’ve graduated from a Utah high school, they’re able to still be eligible for 253.

Katie; Excellent. And I know we talk with counselors a lot about FAFSA completion and this is good to know the resources that are out there for undocumented students who won’t qualify for federal or forms of state aid, to know what path counselors can send them down to get the money they need for college.

Dayan: Yea, and just kind of adding on to about FAFSA, a lot of students will reach out to us and will say, “Hey, there’s this scholarship that’s private, but it’s still asking me to fill out the FAFSA.” And the way that we kind of handle that situation is we tell students to come into our office and we will help them fill out the paper form. So we recommend students to do the paper form versus the online form because we have an individual in the office of financial aid, the financial aid office, that can work directly with us as the Dream Center and works directly with undocumented students to make sure that those papers are just being used specifically for the scholarships and nowhere else.

Katie: That’s excellent to know, thank you Dayan. So, I want to cover the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – or DACA – program. Which, for any counselors that are unfamiliar with this program, it was implemented under the Obama administration and gave undocumented individuals protections to work in this country legally. And so I know there’s been a lot of changes around the DACA program in the last couple of years. Can you give us a brief summary of where DACA stands now and how this affects Utah students?

Dayan: So, currently what has happened with DACA is undocumented students who have DACA are able to renew, but you are now seeing because it’s been rescinded, that undocumented students that would have been eligible to be able to  apply for DACA are no longer able to apply for it because it’s been rescinded. So since the individuals who have DACA are only able to renew, and then you’re seeing high school students are 14, 15, that would have been able to apply in the next year or so, because you’re able to apply for DACA once you’re 16, no longer be able to apply. So, we’re seeing a new wave of students that would have had DACA who are now in limbo and they’re not really sure what their next step is. But we want to make sure that counselors and teachers know that, whatever happens with DACA will never affect HB144 and SB253, because these are now policies that are laws in the state of Utah, so whatever happens with DACA, in-state tuition will never be taken away in the state of Utah because it’s a law. Things may change because it is being introduced to the Senate and the House every year, but it’s very rare for it to be taken away because it’s been a law since, I mean HB144 has been a law since 2002, SB 253 since 2015. The changes of DACA won’t affect those policies in the state of Utah.

Katie: Ok, so it’s good to know even regardless of what happens at a federal level, there are some protections in the state of Utah for our students. So what outreach does the Dream Center do at Utah high schools?

Dayan: We have a program called the Dream Ambassadors and the Dream Ambassadors focus on going to the high schools and presenting to high school students in their classrooms about these policies that we are talking about. And they also let them know about scholarship opportunities and kind of what we do and how we are here to support them. And our Dream Ambassadors are students that are freshmen, sophomores, upper classmen here at the University of Utah and they themselves have been affected by being undocumented themselves, or their family members are undocumented, so it’s really cool for high school students to see individuals who are at the University of Utah making change and being effective and succeeding and showing them that they can make it.

Katie: That’s excellent, yea I can see how hearing a near-peer mentor’s story of what they’ve been through would be really powerful for a high school student.

Dayan: We also present at the USHE conference every year. And I really encourage high school teachers and counselors to attend this conference and see our presentation because it’s a very good tool and we really talk about the national, state, and institutional level policies that are affecting or benefiting undocumented students.

Katie: That’s excellent. So, counselors, if you would like to learn more about how to attend the USHE conference, and attend Dayan’s breakout session about the Dream Center, registration for that conference will open the first week of April and you can visit stepuputah.com to register. The conference itself this year will take place on Monday, September 9 at the Utah Valley Convention Center, and as I said, you can learn more on stepuputah.com. And then if you’re interested in contacting the Dream Center, especially for an Ambassador presentation at your school, you can do so at dream.utah.edu. Anything else that you would like to add, Dayan?

Dayan: Yea, so we are a center that is located at the University of Utah, but we’re not a center that focuses just on recruiting students to the U or helping students that are going to go to the U itself. We understand that students that are undocumented may go to SLCC or may go to another school that makes more sense for them financially, or personally, right? So, we are here as a center to help the student go to whatever school make sense for them. We are not here to pressure them to go to Utah, so please make sure when you speak to your students, teachers, and counselors to let them know that we are here for them for no matter what school they’re going to go to.

Katie: Well, we appreciate your time, Dayan. And thank you for being on the podcast today.

Dayan: Thank you so much for having me.

Katie: Thank you for joining us. If you have any questions, concerns, feedback, please feel free to contact us at outreach@utahsbr.edu. See you next time!

Katie: 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.