Monday, April 11, 2011

Changes In Student Loans May Create Great Opportunity For Students To Go Back To School

By Michelle Conner

Student loans were last year subject to overhaul. Financial aid in its entirety could be next, at least if US Department of Education Deputy Secretary Tony Miller has it his way. Miller wants financial aid to do more than provide students a means of accessing college and university studies. He wants it to help them obtain degrees.

In order for the United States to reclaim its top worldwide spot in terms of citizens with college and university degrees, the Obama Administration has also challenged Americans to help increase the number of degree holders. As far as economic output is concerned, McKinsey & Company research suggests that the American economy might have suffered more than $2 trillion since 2008 because there's a difference between the level of American academic achievement and that of other countries. The report also noted that the American economy might have felt the effects of several hundreds of billions of dollars, because there are achievement gaps related to ethnicity, school systems and income levels. Searching for more information about academic scholarships can be to your benefit.

To reach the Obama Administration's goal by 2020, Miller said, three in five young adults have to obtain a college or university degree as compared with the two in five who do today. He spoke at a Federal Student Aid conference in November and suggested that financial aid be strengthened in ways other than adding money to the tuition assistance that's available. He also cited a McKinsey & Company report noting that the Obama Administration's goals can be reached if colleges and universities increase their average degree productivity, measured by cost per degree, instead.

Education groups, colleges and universities and state governments are doing their jobs. Former students of a Colorado university are able to receive scholarships in order to complete their bachelor's degree programs. Through what's known as a "CU Complete" program, students depending upon the academic credits they need, can receive up to $1,000 in scholarships. Over the past 1.5 years, more than 37 students have been contacted to participate in the CU Complete program, and some 23 students who have enrolled have received some $23,000 in scholarships, according to a recent article in the Daily Camera newspaper.

The non-profit College Board provides examples of policies in states such as Kentucky and Michigan, which respectively provide adults with financial aid information and as much as $5,000 in financial aid to complete two years of studies at community colleges; Virginia, where students receive $1,000 incentives to transfer to a four-year college or university to train for in-demand careers after obtaining an associate's degree at a two-year college; and Oklahoma, where low-income students as part of a Promise Scholarship program agree to maintain a minimum 2.5 grade point average in demanding high school studies and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The group, Excelencia in Education, is working to increase the number of Latinos with college and university degrees. The group notes that the country's near-49 million Latinos make this demographic group its largest racial or ethnic minority and cites one report suggesting that nearly 25 percent of men and women who are college or university aged in 2025 are to be Latino. In Florida, Excelencia in Education has recommended getting information about higher education - and how to pay for it - out to new mothers in hospitals and students in middle schools. You can always find more information about scholarships for college students on the web.

Miller suggested that financial aid administrators view their responsibilities as not only providing students access to colleges and universities but also helping students to be successful. He pointed also toward full-tuition HOPE scholarships in Georgia and Arkansas, which require grade point average minimums, being shown to increase the number of students who continue working toward a bachelor's degree. Miller also noted that West Virginia's Promise scholarships require students to not only meet minimum grade point averages but also to take enough courses each semester, which allows them to graduate in a timely manner.

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