Financial Aid 101 for Adult Learners


by Lisa Thompson

Navigating the college financial aid process can seem daunting if you’re an adult learner enrolling in college for the first time or heading back to get more training or finish a degree. A key point to keep in mind is that there is no age limit for federal and state financial aid. There are, however, other things that affect how much and which financial aid you might be eligible to receive:

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Helping High School Graduates Transition to College


by Lisa Thompson

Low-income Minnesota students graduating from high school this spring may be able to participate in a high school-to-college transition program. Held the summer between high school graduation and the fall term of college, the program helps students develop the skills and abilities necessary to succeed in college-level coursework.

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What Pell Grant Cuts Could Mean to Minnesota Students


by Lisa Thompson

Federal Pell Grant awards, which help low-income students pay for college, may be reduced for the 2011-2012 academic year as the U.S. government works to decrease spending. If no changes are made, the program could face a shortfall of $20 billion because more demand has been placed on the program by an increase in eligible students.

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Summer Academic Enrichment Stipends Available for Low-income Students


by Lisa Thompson

Low-income Minnesota students completing grades three to 11 in spring 2011 may be eligible to participate in a summer academic enrichment program at no or low cost thanks to a new program offered by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.  The program will fund up to $1,000 to attend an approved program offered by Minnesota colleges and nonprofits. These programs give students the opportunity to experience a college environment and improve their academic skills to better prepare for college.

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Need Help Applying for College Financial Aid?


by Lisa Thompson

Each year, Minnesota College Goal Sunday workshops are held throughout Minnesota from January to the beginning of May to help students and their parents apply for financial aid. While the workshops are intended for low-income families and those with no family history of attending college, all students are welcome to attend. Pre-registration is not required. Find a workshop location near you.

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Education DOES Pay


by Kathy Kirchoff

Everyone wants to make enough money to take care of themselves and their family, and they don’t want to face unemployment. Data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that as your education increases, your wages are likely to go up and your chances of becoming unemployed go down. While there are never any guarantees in today’s labor market, education is still one of the surest means to a bright future.

 

Here are the statistics. People with less than a high school degree have an average unemployment rate of 14.6 percent, and an average wage of $11.35 per hour. Finishing high school bumps average hourly wages up to $15.65 (or $4.30 more per hour). The average hourly wage for someone with some college but no degree is $17.48, and getting a 2-year or associate’s degree can increase your hourly wage to $19.03, on average. Read more on why and how additional training beyond high school pays off. 

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College loan forgiveness and repayment programs


by Shirley Fenlason

Have you heard of college loan forgiveness or repayment programs? Whether you’re a college student or graduate, they’re definitely worth checking out. If you meet the loan and program-specific criteria, these programs may help you restructure or even reduce your college debt.

On April 15, I read a CNNMoney.com article, Get a job, ditch your student loans, which highlighted student loan forgiveness programs. The piece focuses on programs that are part of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007.

The Income-Based Repayment (IBR) program is based on your family size and income with a payment cap of 15% of your monthly disposable income. If you make these payments for 25 years, your remaining student loan balance is forgiven. Though the program doesn’t start until July 2009, you can sign up for email updates now.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is for Direct Loan borrowers who are employed in full-time public service. As long as you remain in qualifying full-time public service while making 120 payments over the course of ten years (beginning after October 1, 2007), your remaining student loan balance is forgiven.

Finaid.org is a great resource for student loan forgiveness/repayment programs. It lists specific criteria and benefits by categories and programs along with contact information. For instance, if you serve with AmeriCorps for one year, you can earn $4,725 in student loan repayment. Programs are available for student loan borrowers doing volunteer work, serving in the Army National Guard, teaching, or working in the medical or legal professions. Criteria vary per program so be sure to do your research!