November 30, 2007

US heading towards goverment-run, Canadians decide government-run is wasteful

Posted in Student Loan News at 7:08 AM by Joe From Boston

There are many presidential candidates knocking the FFELP program, which subsidies corporations to loan to high-risk students.  The subsidies are specifically designed to make up for the unusually high risk involved in lending to a population with no credit history and a historically high default rate.

Canada did that a few years back, and it seems like our northern neighbors are really unhappy with the situation!

According to, the American FFELP program has lower interest rates and lower default rates.

“The CSLP was introduced in 1964. In 1995, the Government of Canada stopped guaranteeing new loans meaning that financial institutions became liable when borrowers defaulted. They were paid a “risk premium” equal to 5 percent of the value of loans they consolidated each year. In 2000, financial institutions largely withdrew from the CSLP and the federal government introduced directly financed loans as a result. The administration and management of the new CSLP was outsourced.

In 2003-04, average indebtedness for borrowers in the program was $10,628 and the three-year default rate was forecast at 25.5 percent. The forecasted default rate for 2005-06 is 15.2 percent. The cohort default rate in the U.S. is 4.6 percent.”

November 29, 2007

Parent’s Frequently Asked Questions

Posted in Misc at 7:42 AM by Joe From Boston

Here are my answers to some questions that many parents ask. They usually start with “I’m paying for his/her education, so why can’t I…?”

Why is the school unable to tell me anything about my student?

Federal law is against you.

According to federal law, college students have the right to the privacy of all their education records including grades, financial information, and disciplinary records.  Though they are your child, they’re really an adult now (even if they don’t act like it), and really, one thing you want them to learn is maturity, right?

Under federal law, parents who want to gain access to a student’s records can do so if the student signs a release form.

Most schools, if not all, do not release information directly to parents.

How can I get a copy of my student’s grades?

The fastest way is to ask your child to see his/her copy.  In many schools, they can log online to check grades and show you.  Otherwise, you’ll need your child to sign a release form.

How can I get verification of my student’s enrollment and GPA for my insurance company?

Check with the school’s Admissions Office.  Each school will have different requirements.  Your child’s signature may be required to release the information (see the first question, above)

How do I get a message to my student?

Your school probably sent information about this to your child in one of the early packets he/she received.  Check this first.  Also check the website.

At my undergraduate school, the central phone number had an operator who could help escalate a call if it was an emergency, for example in the event of a death in the family, the Dean’s office would help track down a student.  I do NOT recommend calling the Dean’s office directly, however!

November 28, 2007

10 Things Every Parent Should Know

Posted in Misc at 8:42 AM by Joe From Boston

Skagit Valley College in Washington has a great list for parents – 10 things you all should know. I am reproducing it here:

  1. How to find, download, fill out, and print the FAFSA form for Financial Aid.

  2. What other options are available besides financial aid. Look into what other avenues are available and help your student decide on what works best for them. Don’t assume they will handle it themselves because in the end, when tuition is due, they will need your help.

  3. Their child’s class schedule , not to be nosey, but for a better understanding of where your child is headed and to know where to find them. There is no delivery system available in the college for messages to be handled unless the situation is a family emergency. Classroom interruption for other situations is not permitted.

  4. It is important to keep the lines of communication open for your student. Don’t be afraid of asking them questions about their classes and decisions they have made. It lets them know you care and are there is they need you.

  5. When your child is in a dilemma with a problem and they are not asking you to solve it, just listen and encourage them to consider their options and support their decision. Since they’re sharing with you, avoid statements such as “how did this happen, how could you . . .?”

  6. That your child is ready for college and that you did a good job preparing them. Don’t expect them to do things the way you did or the way you would.

  7. Growth requires making mistakes. Letting your child make mistakes may be difficult but can develop them in the long run. A big part of college is making choices.

  8. It is important to be patient, Patient, PATIENT.

  9. Supportive words work wonders: “You’ll do fine, you’re well prepared for that exam.” Or ” I’m so proud of you for taking on the challenge.”

  10. Lastly….remember your college days. What memories do you remember most?

November 27, 2007

College Prep advice for parents on TV 11/27/2007 at 8pm EST

Posted in Saving for College at 2:22 PM by Joe From Boston

According to (see page 7), a television program developed by the US Department of Education will air tonight on DISH Network and many PBS Stations.  The press release states:

How to Pay, Why College is Important, What’s Being Done to Improve Higher Education

Tips for parents on how to help their children prepare for college will be among the topics explored tonight in the U.S. Department of Education’s monthly TV show, Education News Parents Can Use, in a program entitled, “Higher Education: Ensuring America’s Competitive Edge.”

The program will be carried from 8 to 9 p.m. ET Tuesday on the Dish Network, dozens of PBS stations and numerous cable outlets. Others, including The Learning Channel, will broadcast the show on a tape-delayed basis. A complete listing of viewing options is available at In addition, the program will be available as an archived webcast at

This program will examine:
• Why is a college education more important than ever before? What federal, state and local strategies are helping us to meet this demand?
• When should parents and students start thinking about saving for college, and what programs and resources are available to help?
• How can we help students, especially minority youth, prepare for and succeed in college?
• How accessible is higher education? And how can we make it more affordable?
• How are the Commission on the Future of Higher Education’s final report and the Secretary’s Action Plan improving the accessibility, affordability and accountability of U.S.
colleges and universities?

Texas A&M cutting summer tuition in half

Posted in Misc at 10:37 AM by Joe From Boston

Need to take an extra course?  Then there’s great news if you go to Texas A&M University.  According to the Houston Chronicle, they’ve slashed summer tuition by half!

November 26, 2007

Interest-free loans for MD students with need

Posted in Saving for College, Scholarships, Student Loan News at 9:36 AM by Joe From Boston

Here’s a great article for those of you in Maryland from the Baltimore Sun!

A long-kept Md. secret: interest-free college loans

Once in a while, something that sounds too good to be true is, well, true. Count the Central Scholarship Bureau as one of them.

The Pikesville nonprofit offers scholarships and interest-free college loans of up to $10,000 a year for needy Marylanders. Its aim: Cover the shortfall between the cost of attending college and the financial aid package.

Loans are common. Interest-free loans aren’t. And if you’re a student or parent of a child in college, you don’t need a calculator to know the big savings to be achieved from not having to pay interest on loans.

If you haven’t heard of Central Scholarship, you’re not alone. Even though it’s been awarding grants and interest-free loans for more than 80 years, Central Scholarship still runs across skeptics.

Program director Roberta Goldman says a high school guidance counselor told her a few years ago he had thrown away the nonprofit’s brochure, convinced it had to be a scam. More recently, Goldman faced quizzical parents at a college fair.

“A few parents sat down and in so many words said to me, ‘What do you mean there is no interest? … Who funds this? How can that be? Where do you get the money?'” says Goldman. “We live in a day and age of scams, unfortunately, and everybody is on the watch for the next scam.”

Central Scholarship is among a small number of nonprofits across the country that offer interest-free loans for students in their communities. It was founded in 1924 after the closing of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum. Local leaders used the orphanage’s remaining funds along with other donations to create a program for scholarships and interest-free student loans.

Money to make loans today comes from donations from individuals, endowments and corporations. When borrowers repay, that cash goes into making new loans.

Central Scholarship this school year awarded a record $600,000 in interest-free loans and $300,000 in scholarships. Selection is based on need and merit. For the current school year, 450 students applied and 181 received loans or grants.

Read the full article here.

November 25, 2007

Parental over-involvement

Posted in Misc at 7:08 AM by Joe From Boston

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a great article discussing parental over-involvement, (or so called “helicopter parents”). A paid subscription may be required to read the entire article. I’m including an excerpt below.

I witnessed these parents first hand while at school, and watched their children stay dependent and needy while everyone else grew up and matured. I pray that I don’t ever become one of these parents.

It’s Your Child’s Education, Not Yours
With each passing year, it seems as if parents of college students make more and more phone calls on behalf of their children. Almost daily I am notified of parents who have called this or that campus office wanting someone to respond to their concerns or solve their children’s problems. The fact is, student affairs today is about working not just with students but with their parents as well — and managing their service complaints, inquiries for basic information, and demands for grade changes and guarantees that their children will be safe. There are actually days when I never even speak with students, a phenomenon unheard of several years ago. A more appropriate label for my field has become “family affairs.”

College has traditionally been a transition to adulthood, with campus life and academic experiences providing students with knowledge, tools, and challenges that create a sturdy foundation on which students build their personal and professional lives. But that foundation is eroding because parents are the ones now wielding the tools — such as problem solving, resourcefulness, critical thinking, and exploration — and responding to those challenges. Parents are diminishing the learning opportunities that higher education purposefully presents to students.

Imagine a world in which young professionals are unable to make even the simplest decisions, in which intelligent adults need consultation for even the most trivial matters. Such a world is becoming a reality, as more and more parents call campus housing about air-conditioning problems in residence halls, provide their supposedly grown children with daily wake-up calls, edit their papers, attend career fairs to promote their kids to potential employers, and even sit in on their job interviews. How is that helping students to develop into responsible, decision-making adults?

In that spirit, our mantra should be that we help students to help themselves. We need to direct students to resources that enable them to resolve their own issues and respond to their own concerns. At the same time, we have a responsibility to understand why parents feel the need to be so involved with their children’s college experience.

In 2006 I conducted a nationwide survey of mid- and senior-level student-affairs professionals, at doctoral research universities, who were in a position related to parent service or otherwise had frequent contact with parents. Ninety-three percent of the respondents had experienced a rise in parent interactions in the past five years. The ease of communication via e-mail and cellphones was cited as one likely reason; a new, consumerist view of college as a product, and faculty and staff members as service providers, was another. Survey respondents also noted that parents are increasingly concerned for their children’s safety, and that they have simply always taken care of things for their children and see no reason to change that behavior.

November 24, 2007

Penn. state-owned student loan corp overpaid $34million

Posted in Misc at 7:58 AM by Joe From Boston

You may have heard this by now as it’s all over the news, but an audit by teh Department of Education fonud that the state-owned Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency was overpaid by $34 million due to it’s exploiting a loophole.

Is it just me, or do you find it funny that the government is defrauding the government???

Here’s a couple article for further reading.

November 21, 2007

Financial aid for parents who own their own businesses

Posted in Legislation Affecting Students at 7:24 AM by Joe From Boston

A recent article by US News & World Report bashes what it calls a “little-noticed loophole written into federal college financial aid rules allows the children of wealthy entrepreneurs to collect aid intended for the needy”

Well, lets look at this issue from a historical perspective. For the past several years, people who owned their own businesses were at a disadvantage, particularly small business owners, because the business’ value was considered to be assets of the owner, even if those assets were tied up in the business e.g. rent, salaries, etc.

This caused small business owners in particular to be denied financial aid for their children, because the calculations determined that they had a whole lot more money at their fingertips than they actually did.

In the financial aid world and in Congress, this is NOT a little-known loophole, it’s something people have been trying to rectify for years. This was planned, on purpose.

Could it have been phrased or tailored better? Almost certainly. Will some rich people qualify? Yup.

But think of how many small business owners will finally be eligible for federal financial aid for their kids. We’ll see how this all shakes out, but I this “loophole” was planned with the best of intentions.

November 20, 2007

Avoid arguments over the turkey – talking to your family about financial aid

Posted in Misc, Saving for College at 9:01 AM by Joe From Boston

College costs a lot of money, money that you and your family have to come up with somehow, somewhere.  This is often a conversation that comes up over the holidays when students are home visiting.  There are also lots of statistics that those visits home can be stressful for everyone involved, particularly when the subject of money comes up.

So here are some tips to help you survive the holiday and avoid throwing turkey at one another in an irate furor.

  1. Discuss scholarships.  Let’s face it – scholarships are free money and free money will brighten anyone’s day.
  2. Students show your initiative.  If you’re a student, wow your parents with what you’ve been doing to help while on your own time.  Show your parents a stack of scholarship applications, or wow them with your knowledge of the different types of Stafford Loans and why they are better than private loans.
  3. Patience goes a long way.  Be patient.  Your child is approaching finals and is probably stressed out already, long before the subject of $$ ever comes up.
  4. Plan for next year.  At this point, paying for this year’s tuition is largely settled (we hope).  So instead of arguing over who owes what now, layout a game-plan for next year and elicit promises from everyone that they will stick to it.  Have people sign it if necessary!

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