Financial Aid

Meredith Geddings / Florida House of Representatives

First, it was "Bright Futures." Next, it could be "Sunshine."

State Rep. Shevrin Jones, a Broward County Democrat, is pushing to establish a new taxpayer-funded grant that would help low-income Floridians earn certificates and associate's degrees. 

Florida Expands Financial Aid Program For College Students

Aug 2, 2017
Emily Michot / Miami Herald

As Florida students return to universities and state colleges this month for a new academic year, many will benefit from a major expansion of need-based financial aid.

Florida's main program aimed at students with financial need, known as “student assistance grants,” will expand to cover a record 234,824 students in the 2017-18 academic year, an increase of 112,495 students from last year, according to an estimate approved Wednesday by state analysts.

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool is down.

If those words don't send a shiver up your spine, it means you're not a high school senior or college student rushing to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

The FAFSA is the form — famously complicated and difficult to finish — that stands between many low-income students and the federal, state and institutional aid they need to pay for college.

There's an experiment underway at a few top universities around the world to make some master's degrees out there more affordable.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for example, says the class of 2018 can get a master's degree in supply chain management with tens of thousands in savings. The university's normal price runs upwards of $67,000 for the current academic year.

When the Obama administration announced last year that it would overhaul the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, prospective college students (and their parents) cheered.

"Today, we're lending a hand to millions of high school students who want to go to college and who've worked hard," said Arne Duncan, who was at that time U.S. secretary of education. "We're announcing an easier, earlier FAFSA."

And it is both.

12th Graders Get A Three-Month Head Start On Financial Aid

Oct 4, 2016
Rowan Moore Gerety / WLRN

High school seniors started applying for financial aid three months early this year, thanks to changes introduced by the Department of Education to give families more time weigh their options.

At G. Holmes Braddock High School in Kendall, college advisor Maria Mendoza is walking a group of 12th graders through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. “If you don’t have a FAFSA ID, you’re going to request two: one for you and one for your parents,” she says, making the rounds as students input information on laptops. 

Explaining Florida's For-Profit College Industry

Apr 27, 2015
Kirk Carapezza / WGBH

Miami Herald reporter Michael Vasquez has spent a year digging into Florida's for-profit college industry for a series called Higher Ed Hustle.

About 300,000 Florida students attend for-profit colleges, which often specialize in training low-skill workers for a new career.

But students often find their degree doesn't qualify for the career they were seeking, and they graduate with tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

xinntii / Flickr

The federal government should ban overdraft fees for financial accounts established through a partnership between banks and colleges and universities, according to a new report from the Center for Responsible Lending.

Those overdraft fees can cost students hundreds of dollars a year -- more than books -- on accounts often set up to handle financial aid payments.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

It’s a midweek school night at Miami Beach Senior High School.

Students, their parents and siblings -- roughly 80 people in all -- are waiting in the school’s library to get on a computer and answer a lot of questions.

Miami Beach Senior High college adviser Maria Sahwell and experienced counselors will walk families through filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

Courtesy of "First Generation."

Students who are the first in their family to attend college often have a more difficult time finishing their degree.

Research shows those students know less about how to get into and pay for college. They're also less likely to take tough high school courses needed to prepare for college.

Abd allah Foteih / Flickr

State university leaders want to add $45 million in needs-based financial aid to help make up for changes to the Bright Futures scholarship program. Those new, higher qualifications will eliminate more than $250 million a year in college aid by 2018.

The State University System Board of Governors Wednesday delayed a vote on adding $45 million. They want more time to discuss the issue.