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The time is now to support our students and families through this financial aid conundrum and ensure they’re making the best choices for their futures.
In the first article in this series, Financial Aid, College Choice, and COVID-19, I talk about the importance of all of us working together right now because as adults, as students, as human beings, if we’re going to get through COVID-19, it will be together.
In the second article, I talk about how we face a Financial Aid Conundrum that is persistent, systemic, fraught with pitfalls ready to take advantage of families, and overbearingly complex to tackle. I talk about this now because this issue is facing our students right now as they prepare to choose what college they will go to by the College Decision Day deadline of May 1 for many California public and independent four-year institutions.
When all is said and done, though, we must keep in mind the Power of Student Resilience and Choice.
That's why in this fourth article, I want to address the students so that they can recognize this power. I also address all adult allies so that we can support students in embracing said power.
Students, you can do this!
“Take an entrepreneurial approach and focus on sectors that are growing. Even if these areas don’t align with what you imagined you’d be doing after graduation, cultivate a flexible and open mindset - this will be essential for students in a COVID-19 economy.
Build your energy as if you’re preparing for a marathon not a sprint. In the weeks and months ahead, be patient with and kind to yourself and develop support systems. Consider the possibilities that may emerge (in time) for us as a society, when many communities and sectors begin to focus on rebuilding.”
Allies, we can help them!
Colleague Lara Fox, Senior Advisor at the Marin Community Foundation who served prior to that as the Founding Executive Director of uAspire Bay Area, has this advice for us adult allies and educators:
"It's crucial that counselors both stay in regular contact with 12th graders and ensure that students know they can appeal their financial aid offers if family circumstances have recently changed.
It's also essential that colleges prepare to respond to a likely increase in appeals, given that 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the past four weeks alone.”
I know the financial side of college can be daunting and overwhelming and I just hope families and educators will work together to ensure our students make the most of their options.
Allies, let’s help our students now as much as we can, while also thinking strategically about how to support future cohorts through this.
If you are a college advisor, counselor, or educator, consider teaching your students financial literacy, especially now, but also much earlier in students’ high school careers. Next Gen Personal Finance (NGPF) has a curriculum called “Paying for College.”
Here’s a snippet of what you can teach your students using NGPF's lessons:
Colleges, please consider your students!
To colleges and university financial aid officers and advocates, thank you for keeping students at the center. Please continue to do so.
Our colleges will also need to support families, now more than ever, so that they can advocate for the best deals that will lead to less debt and more degrees.
The Community College League of California Financial Aid Office Operations Taskforce released the report “Increasing Student Access, Success and Equity: California Community College Student Focused Financial Aid Policies February 2020” with the following guidance. Though written for community colleges, they bear consideration for all higher education institutions.
And finally, some Best Practices they offer for higher ed:
Thank you for sticking through this series on Financial Aid, College Choice, and COVID-19!
Good luck to the #ClassOf2020 and all non-traditional students who are preparing their choice for College Decision Day this year!
To learn more about Moneythink, go to moneythink.org/.
To learn more about Next Gen Personal Finance, go to www.ngpf.org/.