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The Other Side of College Success: Advisor Resources for Data-Driven Conversations

on June 30, 2020
by Meredith Curry

A recent survey found that over half of Black and Hispanic/Latinx parents of high school students are reporting changes in their child’s post high-school plans, compared to 43% for white parents. Those changes include deferring a year when colleges allow it, or changing decisions on which college to go to. The same survey found that less than half of students plan to go to a four-year college, which is down from 7% only a month ago. If you were wondering if it makes sense for students to go to an all-online college in the fall, consider a recent survey that shows 33% of high school seniors would rather defer or cancel admittance.

Why Moneythink cares about this issue

Moneythink’s mission is to dramatically increase the number of historically underrepresented students graduating with postsecondary degrees while carrying little to no financial burden.

A core focus of our work — and why our agile, student-first team is so committed to our model — is to help students and their families understand the intersection between affordability and overall fit as early as possible in the college search process. With our technology, content, and senior financial aid advisor brainpower, we help students determine which schools offer the best VALUE and understand how to pay for it responsibly, setting them up for success. At Moneythink, success is not as simple as students completing their college path with a degree, though that is a tremendous part of it and a huge enough barrier by itself. We believe that success goes beyond students’ college years and should be defined by the completion of a degree without the unnecessary financial stressors that plague millions of low-income and first-generation students.

Since our inception in 2008, Moneythink has been a leader in financial capability for traditionally under-served youth. Along the way, we have mentored 32,000+ HS seniors and college students nationwide using our proprietary financial capability curricula — garnering accolades along the way, such as the White House Champions of Change Award.

Our outcomes show that we’re making an impact; and our work wouldn’t be possible without our partners. We have relied on a diverse set of college access nonprofits, public schools, and social-benefit collaborations to support our students’ journeys. For example, recent webinars with and insights from partners like Richmond PromiseScholarMatch, and Taco Bell’s Live Más Scholars reinforce and remind us that there’s still much for us to learn. And much more for all of us to do.

“It is clear this type of support is needed and wanted by our students…Highlighting key areas that may be overlooked daylights the complexities of financial aid, which is a necessary starting point to engage students…and support them in making an educated decision.

Richmond Promise

Moneythink emphasizes the costs [for students and families], as opposed to the estimated bill, and a healthy caution around Parent PLUS loans.

ScholarMatch
college student dabbing with diploma

What you can do now to support the Class of 2020 and transfer students

Because of our direct experience coaching students through financial decision making, along with paying attention to the landscape, we are here to offer relevant, timely information and resources to the field through capacity-building webinars, public content, and more to support #LessDebtMoreDegrees across the country.

Here are some answers to questions you may be asking.

Q: My student still doesn’t have all the information she needs to compare awards apples to apples. What can she do right now?

  • TuitionFit is one of the really great, accessible resources. They will help your student compare real financial aid offers and actual college prices by sorting through thousands of financial aid award offers shared by prior year users.

Q: My student seems like he’s eligible to get his deposit fees waived but it’s unclear how he can request a waiver at his college. What are his options?

  • You can use the NACAC Enrollment Deposit Fee Waiver if your student is experiencing significant financial hardship. A supplemental document outlines additional ways that you can advocate for him to get the support he needs.

Q: My student has the circumstances to appeal their financial aid package but we don’t know how to submit a strong appeal. Where can we go?

  • To request a change to your student’s college financial aid package, SwiftStudent can help you write a financial aid appeal letter for free with customizable templates.

Q: Should I support my students in deferring admission?

  • Money is going to be top of mind for students and their families when making the decision to go or not to go this fall. You will need to guide your students on a case-by-case basis depending on their college acceptances, financial aid award letters, and strength of the match. Only the college will have instructions on whether they accept deferment and under which circumstances so check with them first via online, by email, and by phone if needed.

Q: Where do I go for the latest information from my student’s college on their plans for the fall?

  • Colleges like Oregon State University are giving their admitted students the opportunity to tell the college what their plans are while making their responses “completely non-binding” through surveys.
  • The California State University (CSU) Chancellor’s Office gave students and staff some sense of what to expect this fall, announcing that “the planning framework for all 23 CSU campuses will be virtual instruction with very limited exceptions that meet rigorous and extensive safety and training requirements and are approved by the Chancellor’s Office as well as public health.”
  • There’s still room for differences across campuses and systems because of where colleges are located and how they’re affected by COVID-19. Students should check their emails regularly and sign into their college portals where they have access.
students raising hands in a classroom

How Moneythink supports YOU so you can support your students

Our college affordability tool, DecidED, scheduled for release this fall, brings transparency to the affordability options of students’ college choices. Especially as college costs, gift aid, and gap financial comparisons lack clarity, our tool has been developed to help you to better support strong enrollment decisions with the necessary financial data and relevant fit factors at hand — completely removing the guesswork out of college affordability. DecidED enables you to have even more productive and guided conversations with students about the tradeoffs of college options by:

  • Comparing true apples-to-apples affordability levels, quality, and fit across multiple college options;
  • Considering how graduation rate and future salaries outcomes might influence a students’ enrollment decision;
  • Enabling you to better support holistic and informed enrollment decisions grounded in an accurate and complete understanding of college costs;
  • Supporting your students in creating an action-oriented financial plan to responsibly pay for their first year of college, mitigating the chances of attrition or pausing out.

Do you like to use College Navigator for college profile information? DecidED’s college data comes from the same source. Want to get a head start on your financial aid planning curriculum and strategy for the Class of 2021?

It’s critical that we support the Class of 2020 through the transactional and social-emotional benchmarks of their college journey. This includes double-checking their financial aid, following up on appeals, active listening and affirmation, and coming up with backup plans together as needed.

As you think of ways to support your future college-aspiring students, let Moneythink help by giving you and your students the information they need. Together, let’s ensure that students are equipped and prepared to enter college without the unnecessary financial challenges that detract from focusing on personal growth and academic success.

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