Guest Post from Delaware’s Secretary of Education, Dr. Lillian Lowery
Our mission in the Delaware Department of Education is that every student will graduate from our public schools college or career ready, with the freedom to choose his or her life’s course. Yet I know paying for some of those desired courses can be a challenge for many students and their families.
That is why it is critical that they have all the help and information they need to access the scholarships, grants, work-study programs, loans and other financial assistance available.
This week, the Delaware Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators will re-launch its annual “Financial Aid Nights,” a statewide program running through March that is designed to provide college-bound students and their families with valuable information and free assistance in applying for financial aid.
Attendees will learn about applying for need-based and merit-based aid as well as federal, state and institutional programs—including grants, scholarships, work-study and loans. Financial aid experts also will talk about filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, explain how colleges determine financial need and explain the role of the college financial aid office.
This help is needed now more than ever. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan outlined the challenge well last week when he spoke at the annual Federal Student Aid conference in Las Vegas:
- Over the last decade, the net price of college has risen nearly 6 percent a year, after inflation.
- From 1995 to 2007, the net price of college for full-time undergraduates, adjusted for inflation, rose: 48 percent at for-profit schools, 26 percent at public two-year institutions and 20 percent at public four-year institutions.
- College seniors with student loans now graduate with an average of more than $25,000 in debt. Fifteen years ago, the figure was closer to $12,500.
But, he reminded the conference attendees, there is help available. In fact, federal support for increased college access has expanded more in the last three years than at any period since the years following the passage of the GI bill. That includes:
- The federal government now provides half of all undergraduate grant aid — up from a third a decade ago.
- In the past three years, the number of Pell Grant recipients enrolled in college has increased from 6.2 million to about 9 million. And the value of total grant aid and federal loans per student has increased by about 30 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars.
- Changes to the American Opportunity Tax Credit made in 2009 have led to a jump in tax credit and tuition deductions of more than 80 percent per qualified student.
- The federal government is trying to make applying for assistance easier, as well, by simplifying the FASFA application. This has led to an almost 50 percent increase in FASFA applications since 2008.
If you are a college-bound student or the family member of one, I urge you to attend one of the upcoming Financial Aid Nights and find out more about what help is available. The meeting times and locations are outlined below. I hope to see you there.
- 7 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 6, Brandywine High School auditorium, 1400 Foulk Road, Wilmington, 479-1609
- 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 8, Polytech School District Adult Education auditorium, 823 Walnut Shade Road, Woodside, 697-3257
- 6 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 5, Lake Forest High School, 5407 Killens Pond Road, Felton, 284-9291
- 6 p.m., Monday, Jan. 9, Indian River High School auditorium, 29772 Armory Road, Dagsboro, 732-1500
- 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 11, Dover High School auditorium, One Pat Lynn Drive, Dover, 672-1553
- 7 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 18, Caesar Rodney High School lecture recital hall, 239 Old North Road, Camden-Wyoming, 697-3249
- 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 18, Middletown High School, 120 Silver Lake Road, Middletown, 376-4158
- 7 p.m., Monday, Jan. 23, Delaware Technical College’s Owens Campus theatre, intersection of U.S. 113 and Del. 18, Georgetown, 856-5400
- 7 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 7, Delaware Technical College’s Owens Campus theatre, intersection of U.S. 113 and Del. 18, Georgetown, 856-5400
- 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 15, Newark High School, 750 E. Delaware Ave., Newark, 631-4700
- 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 7, Delaware Technical College’s Owens Campus theatre, intersection of U.S. 113 and Del. 18, Georgetown, 856-5400