October 2016 Parent News
Applying for financial aid just got a little easier due to two key changes:
- You can now complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2017-18 academic year beginning October 1 rather than January 1 as in previous years. To be considered for federal, state and institutional aid and be offered the most complete financial aid package, you must complete the FAFSA.
- You now are able to use your previous year’s tax information rather than waiting to complete your taxes after January 1. This means for 2017-18, you would report your 2015 income information. For the 2018-19 FAFSA, it would be your 2016 income information. You also can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to electrically retrieve your previous year tax information so you don’t have to re-enter it.
So what’s the point of these changes? The goal is to provide more information about how much financial aid your student is eligible to receive earlier in the process so that you have more time to weigh that when making a decision about which college to attend.
But keep in mind that colleges may be only able to provide an estimate of the financial aid eligibility rather than a full financial aid award letter because:
- Federal and state governments don’t give colleges information on Pell and State Grants until January or February.
- Many colleges do not set their costs for the upcoming year until the spring, although some are now working to set it in the fall.
Read more about the changes on the Federal Student aid website.
Changes in income
In circumstances where a change in employment or marital status occurred in the current or prior year but not the year in which the taxes were used for the FAFSA, you should contact the school directly to explain your special financial circumstances. A college’s net price calculator may help you get an idea of how a change in income might affect how much financial aid your student is eligible to receive.
Fall is a great time to learn more about our campuses — while classes are in session. Each campus hosts special events and tours for high school seniors and juniors, and many include an overview of admissions and financial aid along with a tour of campus. We have a full list of fall visit events with links to more information on each college’s website.
Can’t make it for an event? You can also schedule an individual campus visit. Find links to each college’s visit page.
And don’t forget about Minnesota Education Fairs. Intended for anyone interested in post-secondary education, these events are held throughout the state at high schools and other venues. Students are encouraged to pre-register.
Review a summary of the types of items each school requires in the application process. Then make sure you know the application deadlines. You’ll find that most of Minnesota’s private colleges don't charge a fee to apply.
If you need guidance on what to do in each year of high school, check out our timeline for preparing for college as a starting point. Ready for a more detailed checklist? Check out these senior and junior checklists.
Did you know that your student can earn college credit during high school? There are a number of programs — such as Advanced Placement (AP), Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO), International Baccalaureate (IB) and College in the Schools (CIS) — that may be available. If you’re not sure which are offered in your district or local high school, check with your school principal or guidance counselor.
Many of our colleges grant credit to first-year students who have participated in such programs, but each institution has a slightly different policy. Find out which colleges accept what.
You might be surprised to learn that employers are more interested in the soft skills of recent college grads than their majors.
An analysis of more than 382,000 full-time job postings from the last two years for new bachelor’s degree holders in our five-state area revealed that the top sought skill was oral and written communication.
“That’s always number one,” said Sara Johnson, the employer and alumni relations manager at Concordia College who did the analysis. “Looking at our data from job postings, we see demand for communications skills is two times more in demand than any other skill.”
So what are the 10 of the top skills sought?
|# of postings that mentioned skill|
|Oral and written communications||149,631|
Source: TalentNeuron Recruit
Data for May 2014 to May 2016, for full-time, entry-level positions for those with bachelor’s degrees in Minnesota and bordering states
And new grads from our colleges are showing that they have what today’s hiring managers want. For the class of 2014, 84% were employed within one year of graduation and 20% were enrolled in graduate school. (And some are doing both!)
“The liberal arts colleges really have an advantage in helping students develop these high-demand skill sets and preparing them for the workforce,” said Johnson. “There’s always a transition — when you’re a new employee. These soft skills, they’re people skills and they give an advantage to liberal arts students, helping them be productive sooner. That’s a huge value to an employer, they’re a quick learner.”
Graduating from a liberal arts college doesn’t limit your options after graduation. In fact, it does the opposite! Studying a wide range of topics prepares students for almost any career they might want to pursue. Read about five recent alums who used their liberal arts education to find their passion and work it into a career.
- Why America's business majors are in desperate need of a liberal-arts education
The Atlantic Magazine, Jun. 28, 2016
- 8 Steps to filling out the FAFSA
U.S. Department of Education, Sept. 2016
- Ask an economist: How can today’s college students future-proof their careers
The Atlantic Magazine, Sept. 12, 2016
- 5 important reminders about senioritis
Huffington Post, Sept. 16, 2016
- Job wars: Why liberal arts grads are winning
Investopedia, Sept. 16, 2016