Our Students Deserve No Less

(Official Department of Education Photo by Joshua Hoover)

“My chief message today is a sobering one,” said Secretary Duncan yesterday at the annual Federal Student Aid conference in Las Vegas, Nev. “I want to ask you, and the entire higher education community, to look ahead and start thinking more creatively—and with much greater urgency—about how to contain the spiraling costs of college and reduce the burden of student debt on our nation’s students.”

Duncan called for a national conversation on the issue, and noted that containing the cost of college and student debt will always be some of the most controversial and thankless work in all of higher education. He went on to explain that:

With higher productivity and better accountability, institutions of higher education can boost both quality and access and constrain costs, all at the same time. In the era of the knowledge economy, the urgency of controlling college costs is not at odds with the urgency of increasing college attainment. Both goals are necessary if society is to do all it can to help more Americans succeed and thrive in the global job market.

Duncan acknowledged that for too many students and families that the cost of college is a serious and growing problem. He pointed out the Obama Administration’s unprecedented commitment to helping students pay off their student debt, including the recently announced Pay As You Earn proposal to help make student loan debt more manageable. “All told, 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,” the Secretary said.

To those in attendance at the conference, Secretary Duncan called for creativity and a commitment to help contain the growth of college costs and student debt. “Our students deserve no less,” he said.

Click here to read the entire speech.

Nine Back-to-School Financial Tips for College Students

Ed. Note: For college students around the country, the newness of the fall semester is probably starting to wear off. And while the admission process may seem like a distant memory, now is a good time to ensure you’re prepared for financial success during this and future semesters. Nicole Callahan, a 2011 college graduate, and a new employee at ED’s Office of Federal Student Aid offers these quality tips to keep you financially focused during the coming year.

9. Check in with your school’s financial aid office – All schools have different requirements when it comes to financial aid. Make sure that your school has an updated version of your FAFSA and any other required paperwork so that your financial aid is not delayed.

Financial Aid8. Keep your eyes open – Don’t wait until your tuition bill is due to start thinking about applying for scholarships. There are scholarships available throughout the year. Check with your school’s financial aid office or your local library to find out what is available. You can also search for scholarships online.

7. Consider Federal loans first – When grants and scholarships aren’t enough, many students apply for student loans to help finance their education. Start with Federal loans that often have lower interest rates and flexible repayment options. To apply for Federal loans, start by completing the FAFSA.

6. Keep track of what you borrow – Remember that eventually, you will have to pay back your student loans, so only borrow what you need to get you through school. The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) is a great way to keep track of all the Federal Loans you have borrowed. For private loans, you should check with your lender.

5. Ask about student discounts – When shopping, always ask about student discounts. You can get great deals on everything from laptops to airline tickets just by being a student.

4. Get what you paid for – From concerts to plays to recreational sports teams, most colleges provide a number of services for free. Save yourself money by using the services you already paid for such as a meal plan, the gym or the health center on your campus.

3. Do it yourself – Don’t waste money on things you can do yourself. Instead of stopping into the local coffee shop every morning or going out for dinner, try brewing coffee at home and learning to cook. They may be small expenses, but the savings will add up.

2. Put things into perspective – Take a typical Friday night: you and your friends order pizza ($15), head out to see that hilarious new movie that just came out ($10) and then share a cab back to campus ($7). How many hours would you have to spend at your work-study or part-time job to pay for your night out? Was it worth it?

1. Keep track – Using credit and debit cards make it easy to lose track of what you spend. Make a monthly budget. Divide your spending into categories (food, clothing, entertainment etc.) and set limits on the amount you spend on each. It will prevent you from going overboard.

Nicole Callahan
Office of Federal Student Aid