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Whether you’re about to graduate or just looking forward to summer break, it’s a great time to consider how your interests, needs, and opportunities for education and career are aligned. UtahFutures.org has plenty of tools to help you do just that:

Make a well-informed decision

Deciding between a technical certificate, an Associate’s and a four-year degree? Our friends at PBS Digital Studios have a great breakdown of factors to consider—and they might not be what you think!

https://www.facebook.com/TwoCentsPBS/videos/1287091628095477/

Which is better? Trade school or a four-year degree? This video from PBS explores both options.

The post Plan your path to a great summer appeared first on Step Up Utah.

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This is the transcript for Season 2, Episode 14 (April 25th, 2019) of the “Title IV + More Podcast for Utah Counselors and Educators” from Katie Wornek, Jacob Newman, and Bryan Lee at StepUp to Higher Education Utah.

Listen to the “Title IV + More Podcast for Counselors and Educators” on iTunes

Listen to the “Title IV + More Podcast for Counselors and Educators” on SoundCloud

Listen to the “Title IV + More Podcast for Counselors and Educators” on Google Play

Please be advised that the FAFSA and federal student aid are subject to change. While we ensure all the information we share in each episode is accurate at the time of the episode’s release, our statements are not insulated from future changes. If you have questions, we encourage you to call us at 801-869-5701 or  email us at outreach@utahsbr.edu.

Katie: Welcome and thank you for listening to StepUp Utah’s Title IV + More Podcast for counselors and educators. This podcast is brought to you by StepUp to Higher Education Utah – helping Utah’s students and parents prepare and pay for college. Find more about us at StepUpUtah.com.

Katie: Welcome, listeners. My name is Katie Wornek and I am a paying for college expert with StepUp Utah.

Jacob: And I’m Jacob Newman, and I’m also a paying for college expert with StepUp Utah. I’m going to kick off this episode with some news headlines. So, there are two exciting new developments about degree options here in Utah. First, the Board of Regents approved a new doctorate program at Weber State University. You can read more about this at higheredutah.org and we’ll have a link in the transcript. But this is really great for your students who are interested in the medical field, Weber State University will now offer a Doctorate of Nursing Practice. And students can choose from two emphases – the Family Nurse Practitioner emphasis or the Leadership emphasis. And this is actually the first doctorate program at Weber State, so that is very exciting. The second one is a very interesting development at Southern Utah University. They are planning to launch a three-year bachelor’s degree pilot program in January 2020.  So you can read more about this in the Deseret News, we will also have the link in the transcript. So, Southern Utah University is accomplishing this by keeping students “fully engaged in summer sessions” for their freshman and sophomore years, which leads them to a three-year plan for graduation. So let’s talk a little bit about this as a group for a second. Let’s talk about some of the benefits of this. So what do you think, Katie? What would be some of the benefits of this three year program?

Katie: Yea, so I actually finished my own bachelor’s in three years, and that was by choice. And it was a financial choice. So I think that there are some options here for students when it comes to lowering costs for college. And if you have a student that can manage doing a four-year program faster than the four years allotted, that is one way to save costs. So what I’m seeing here, the benefits I derived and the benefits that a student would derive by doing this – one, a lot of institutions offer plateaued tuition, where they’re charging the same amount of money whether you’re taking 12 credit hours or 18 credit hours, so you’re essentially getting classes for free. In addition, we know that tuition tends to rise every year, so the faster a student can get done, the less they’re going to be charged. And in addition, the faster a student can get done with their degree, the quicker they’re going to be entering the workforce and starting to make back their money.

Jacob: Yea, those are some really great points. I think another really good point to note is that summer slide is a real thing, even for students who are in college, it’s a thing for adults as well. So this is a really great way to have that knowledge retention and to maintain motivation while students are working on their degrees. And beyond that, I think if they’re able to see that they can finish in three years, this also speaks to persistence. Sometimes in Utah we have issues with students, you know, who have some college but no degree. We’re one of the highest states in the nation for that. So this will be a really great way for students to see, “Ok, I can get it done in year three years if I do x, y, and z. And then I can finish my degree and move into the workforce.” So, hopefully this will help with persistence. I’ll be really interested to see what comes of that. Alright, and with that, we’ll move on to some upcoming events that we have. Just to make people aware, we’re going to be at the PTA Convention from May 16-17 at the Utah Valley Convention Center and we will have a booth with information about our programming, so we’re excited to be there. Also, do not forget that May is College Decision Month, so we’re hoping that you will host a College Decision Day celebration. If you need any advice or college readiness publications to hand out, please contact us at outreach@utahsbr.edu. Another plug for this – it’s still not too late for students who are planning to attend college after high school to complete their FAFSA, their Free Application for Federal Student Aid. So as you are having these College Decision Days, it’s a really great plug to encourage students to fill out an application so that they can have a plan to pay for college, because sometimes that reality doesn’t set in until they step foot on the college campus. And we want to make sure that they have access to educated professionals who are able to help them complete the FAFSA accurately, such as yourselves. And with that, we’ll move on to Katie’s FAFSA tip for this week.

Katie: Yes, so as Jacob said, it is certainly not too late for students to file the FAFSA if they’re planning to attend college next year. But we know that many of your students have already completed the FAFSA and this is the time of year when you’re going to be encountering verification more frequently. So, when students are selected for verification, it means that their college or university needs follow-up information to verify the information they provided on their FAFSA. So we wanted to make counselors and educators aware that we have a short series of videos that we produced to try to help students navigate some common FAFSA verification scenarios. So, if your students need help or you want to brush up on these topics, you can check out our videos at YouTube.com/StepUpUtah. So today we’re going to highlight video #2, and that’s how to verify dependency status. So, as a reminder, just kind of a quick refresher about what dependency status means, there are 11 very specific questions on the FAFSA that determine if a student is dependent and has to provide their parents’ information, or if they’re independent from their parents. I’m not going to read them all in their entirety, but here are the basic 11. First, was the student born before January 1, 1996? And that’s the question for this current FAFSA for the 19-20 FAFSA. The 19-20 school year. So that’s roughly 24 years old is the age of independence. Second, is the student married? Is the student working on a graduate degree, so anything post-bachelor’s. Is the student on active duty in the military, or is the student a veteran of the military? Does the student have biological children that are more than 50% financially dependent on that student? And kind of on the converse of that, does the student have any other dependents that they care for – not their own child – that are more than 50% dependent financially on the student? Number eight, since turning 13, has the student’s parents died, has the student been in foster care, or has the student been a ward of the court? Nine, does the student have a legal guardian who is not their parent or stepparent? Number ten, is the student an emancipated minor? And then the final dependency question pertains to if the student is an unaccompanied youth and is homeless or if the student is self-supporting and at risk of homelessness. Now, that was a mouthful, but it’s all to say that if a student answers “no” to all 11 of those questions, the FAFSA defines them as a dependent student and they must provide parental information. If there is truly an extreme circumstance, such as if parents have been deported and the student no longer has contact with them, they wouldn’t fit into any of those 11 questions, however, there’s a process by which they can appeal dependency through the college’s financial aid office. But, remember, at that point, it’s at the discretion of that office to decide if they’re going to make an exception or not and to override the student into being independent. So, for this segment, we’re actually going to focus specifically on the students who are independent by the FAFSA’s definition – aka, if they answered truthfully “yes” to any one of those 11 questions that we covered. In those circumstances, the student is independent and they only have to provide their own information – that means not their parents’ or their guardian for that matter – and if they’re married, they have to provide their spouse’s information. But, again, this is pretty infrequent when it comes to high school seniors. These students might be selected for verification by their college or university. In other words, they might be asked for some sort of documentation to prove their independence. So, the most common ones that we encounter are the ones that we cover in this video. So, for high schoolers, the first most common one – if they answered “yes” to the question about foster care, being an emancipated minor, or being a ward of the court. In those circumstances, the verification process might involve turning in a copy of their court order to the college, or giving a written statement from an employee of a state or county welfare agency, or a written statement from their attorney or their court-appointed advocate that was involved in that process. The second situation we might see with high school students is if they answered yes to the guardianship question. So again, if somebody other than their parent or stepparent has legal guardianship of them, they would be considered independent – they don’t have to provide the guardian’s information. However, they might have to provide a copy of the court paperwork assigning that person legal guardianship to prove that they’re an independent student. Finally, if the student answered “yes” to the question pertaining to homelessness, they might have to provide one of the following documents. That could be a written statement from their school or district McKinney-Vento or homeless liaison, or a written statement from the director of an emergency shelter or transition housing program, or in some circumstances, a school might accept a written statement from a member of the clergy who testifies to the fact that the student is homeless or at risk of being homeless. So, remember, the verification process looks different at each school. So if your student has specific questions, it’s best to have them call their college or university to follow up. And with that, we will sign off for this episode. We appreciate you tuning in, and we welcome your feedback, your comments, your questions. You can always reach out to us with your FAFSA-related questions or any other questions at outreach@utahsbr.edu.

Jacob: Thank you.

Katie: StepUp to Higher Education is an outreach initiative of the state of Utah that empowers 8th-12th grade students and their families to prepare for college. We believe every Utah student should pursue education after high school, whether that be a 1-year certificate, a 2-year degree, a 4-year degree, or beyond that. We provide programs and resources to encourage college prep and success, as well as training and materials for school counselors like you. Thanks for listening to this episode of the Title IV + More podcast for counselors and educators. You can find more about us, order access and outreach materials, or request a StepUp Utah event at your school at StepUpUtah.com. And last but not least, be sure to follow us on social media. You can find us at Facebook.com/StepUpUtah, also on Instagram and Twitter by searching for “@StepUpUtah”. You can also follow our Outreach Officers on social media as well. Just search for “@StepUpKatie” and “@StepUpJacob”.

Listen to the “Title IV + More Podcast for Counselors and Educators” on iTunes

Listen to the “Title IV + More Podcast for Counselors and Educators” on SoundCloud

Listen to the “Title IV + More Podcast for Counselors and Educators” on Google Play

Please be advised that the FAFSA and federal student aid are subject to change. While we ensure all the information we share in each episode is accurate at the time of the episode’s release, our statements are not insulated from future changes. If you have questions, we encourage you to call us at 801-869-5701 or email us at outreach@utahsbr.edu.

The post Title IV + More Podcast: Season 2, Episode 14 Transcript (April 25th, 2019) appeared first on Step Up Utah.

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By Katie Wornek, Outreach Officer and Financial Aid Expert – Updated April 24, 2019

In part 1 of this blog, we explored summer camps offered at Utah’s colleges and universities (and had some fun with Will Smith lyrics). There are even more Utah summer camps and activities available if you’re interested in attending a camp off-campus. Here are a few examples and some suggestions for beginning your search for the perfect summer camp…

Start Local: School Districts and Local Governments

Many cities, counties, and school districts host summer camps for students. The focus of these camps can range from language and art to science and technology. Check your school district’s or city government’s website or call their office for information about camps they host. Check out this directory for website and contact information for your school district. Here are just a few examples of school districts and cities offering awesome activities this summer:

Community Organizations, Businesses, and Nonprofits

Many businesses shake up their routine in the summer by offering activities for students. Check with your favorite local businesses or ask organizations you’re already involved with to see if they have summer programs. Here are some examples to get you started:

This blog series wouldn’t be complete without one more Will Smith reference. In one of my favorite songs from my childhood, “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It”, Will Smith says, “Y’all, ya don’t stop. In the winter or the summertime!” I haven’t confirmed with him in person, but I’m pretty sure he means we never stop learning.

No matter which kind of camp you choose, summer camps are a great way to meet new friends, find new interests, prepare yourself for college, and keep your brain active while you’re out of school.

Katie is an Outreach Officer with UHEAA and StepUpUtah. She holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in History and Political Science from the University of Utah and previously worked as a tutor with the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) college preparatory program. You can follow her for professional advice about preparing and paying for college on Twitter and Instagram (@StepUpKatie

The post Utah Summer Camps Part 2: Off-Campus Options (2019) appeared first on Step Up Utah.

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By Katie Wornek, Outreach Officer and Financial Aid Expert – Updated April 24, 2019

Summer, summer, summertime – time to go to camp and unwind!

I’d like to start today’s blog by taking us back to the good old days when Will Smith (probably better known to some of today’s students as “Jaden Smith’s dad”) wasn’t starring in blockbuster movies – he was a goofy, teenage rapper who called himself The Fresh Prince and he rolled out hit after hit with his pal, DJ Jazzy Jeff. These two gave us the timeless (and Grammy winning) lyric, “Summer, summer, summertime – time to sit back and unwind.”

Sure, unwinding after a long school year is great and well deserved, but getting out there and enjoying the time you have outside of school is what summer is all about. Here’s a list of awesome camps to check out at Utah’s colleges and universities this summer…

Utah State University
Students of various ages can participate in academic camps focused on topics ranging from agriculture to music and creative arts. USU also offers camps for students who want to improve their athletic skills, business skills, leadership skills, and more. Costs and dates vary. Discover all the options and apply to attend here.

Weber State University
Whether you’re interested in leading in business, writing code, discovering the art of metalworking, or learning how to use a 3-D printer, WSU has solutions to make your summer fun! Costs range from free to $300 and dates vary. Learn more about these summer camps or register here.

University of Utah
Upward Bound Summer Academy
Upward Bound serves first-generation students at East High, West High, Highland High, and Kearns High. For 6 weeks, UB students live on campus, attend classes in core high school subjects, and receive tutoring and academic advising. Students also participate in learning service opportunities, lab work, career exploration, and recreational activities. Enrollment closes in May and there is no cost for students who qualify. You can find more information here.

Youth Education
 Continuing Education at the University of Utah offers three youth summer programs. Through Club U, students ages 5-17 can make new friends, engage in outdoor fun, and build their cooperative skills. Campus Camps offer half- or full-day experiences for students ages 6-14 through classroom and outdoor experiences. And Pre-College at the U provides 14-17 year-olds the opportunity to explore college majors, prepare for standardized exams, or perform coursework to earn high school credit. Costs and dates vary. Discover more or sign up here.

Westminster College
Westminster offers a variety of summer options for students from elementary through high school. Students can strengthen their skills in sports, learn to manage money responsibly, practice their vocal performance skills, participate in string instrument classes, or explore their interests in the STEM fields. Read more about costs and schedules or register here.

Salt Lake Community College
Youth Summer Reading
Salt Lake Community College offers reading camps for students from pre-Kindergarten to 12th grade designed to help students learn to read faster and understand content better. Learn more, research costs, or enroll here.

Utah Valley University
Youth Summer Camps
UVU’s summer camp includes courses for students in subjects like arts and crafts, STEM, and dance. Course availability varies by age, so be sure to check the website for more details, a list of costs, and registration deadlines.

Brigham Young University
BYU offers dozens of summer options for students of all ages. Performing arts options range from ballet intensives to sketch comedy. Personal development sessions teach students skills ranging from ACT readiness to graphic design. BYU even offers family history options to help students spend their summer exploring their heritage. Learn more about schedules and costs or register here.

Southern Utah University
Cedar Mountain Elementary Science Camps
Elementary school students can explore the mysteries of the natural world during these 2-day camps. The cost is $95 per student and enrollment through the SUU website is now open.

TECS Summer Camp
TECS (Technology, Engineering, and Computer Science) is a 4-day camp where students can learn about the aeorsapce field, build and program a robot, or dive into the world of cybersecurity. Learn more about costs and schedules or sign up to attend here.

SUU Athletics
SUU offers summer camps for boys’ basketball, softball, girls’ basketball, football, gymnastics, volleyball, soccer, and cross country. Discover more here. 

Dixie State University
Athletics and Personal Skills
DSU offers athletics camps for students who play football, basketball, soccer, or volleyball. DSU also offers options for students who want to improve their leadership or speech and debate skills. Discover more here.

Acadmic Camps
Students who want to learn about mechanical engineering, genetics research, natural resource management, coding, and more can attend one of DSU’s academic-oriented summer camps. Dates and costs vary. You can learn more or sign up here.

I’m excited for summer and I hope you are too! I hope you get the opportunity to have fun, learn new skills, and meet new people at one of these amazing on-campus summer camps. Check out part 2 of this blog where I share info about the other various kinds of k-12, school district, and community summer camps offered outside college campuses.

Katie is an Outreach Officer with UHEAA and StepUpUtah. She holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in History and Political Science from the University of Utah and previously worked as a tutor with the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) college preparatory program. You can follow her for professional advice about preparing and paying for college on Twitter and Instagram  (@StepUpKatie).

The post Utah Summer Camps Part 1: Camps at Colleges and Universities (2019) appeared first on Step Up Utah.

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May 4, 2018 was the greatest day of my life because that was the day I graduated from college. I started college in 2014 and, although I was happy to be pursuing my dream, I faced many financial obstacles. When I started college, I did not have any financial support, but I learned how to ask for help, and I was able to graduate with a bachelor’s in accounting with no debt. I want to share how I was able to accomplish this and how scholarships helped me finish school.

What are scholarships and where can I find them?

Scholarships are free money designed to support students, and they are usually awarded based on academic merit, other achievements, or financial need. Scholarships are a smart way to afford college because you do not have to pay them back.

 
I knew I didn’t have enough money saved to pay for school, so I searched for scholarships on my college’s website, as well as national scholarship databases. I also talked to my mentors, academic advisors, and student support groups and clubs on my campus, such as TRIO. I applied for as many scholarships as I could to support my education, and I received different scholarships based on my grades and leadership. These scholarships covered my tuition and other expenses for my entire bachelor’s degree. I earned scholarships from the accounting department at my school, community and volunteer organizations, businesses, and private donors.

How can I become a competitive scholarship candidate?

Here are a few of my tips to get scholarships:

  • Keep your grades up. A good GPA shows that you are dedicated to school, and many scholarships are designed to reward that kind of hard work.
  • Write a moving personal statement. Scholarship applicants can start to look the same on paper. Students competing for scholarships may have similar grades or participate in the same extracurricular activities. A good personal statement can help set you apart from other students and can help the scholarship committee understand you better. Make sure to cover your past, present, and future plans, including your leadership skills and your ability to give back to the community.
Scholarships are not just about the money.

Some of the scholarships I was awarded came with mentoring or leadership expectations or required me to participate in programs on campus. These scholarships not only supported me financially, but they gave me the opportunity to connect and make friends from the scholarship programs. For example, I have built a great network with the Opportunity Scholars program at the University of Utah and TRIO Support Services at Salt Lake Community College. These scholarships helped reduce my financial burden and helped me stay focused so I could learn more effectively.

A final thought…

I will be graduating with my master’s in accounting next month, and I wouldn’t have achieved this level of educational success without scholarships.

So, I want all students to know that there are so many scholarships available to help you pay for college. Although scholarship applications involve a lot of time and hard work, I recommend you apply for as many as you can.

 
With scholarships, I achieved my dream and gained knowledge that has helped me turn my obstacles into opportunities. As Christine Gregoire once said, “Education is the foundation upon which we build our future”. I wish you luck as you build your own future through education.

Maxwell Ayeliya is a master’s student at the University of Utah and a StepUp federal work-study employee

The post Maxwell Ayeliya: My Scholarship Success Story appeared first on Step Up Utah.

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By Jacob Newman, Outreach Officer and Financial Aid Expert

National College Decision Day is coming up on May 1 and the entire month of May is National College Decision Month. Colleges and universities across the nation are asking students to let them know where they plan to attend by May 1. Remember: it’s not too late to declare where you are going even after May 1. Making a big decision like where to go to school can be difficult. Here’s some advice on making your college decision from Utah students who were once in your shoes…

Robbie studied theater at UVU and now works and lives in Los Angeles:

“UVU had a ‘let’s-make-this-happen attitude.’ Also a selling point: connecting hallways, meaning I wouldn’t have to walk through snow ever.”

Eleni graduated from the University of Utah’s pharmacy school and now works and lives in New Mexico:

“I went to the U of U. My scholarship was the primary reason I went there. I really wanted to go out of state but my scholarship was too good to pass up. I’m really glad I stayed and went to the U though. The science professors I had were all top notch and I got into the pharmacy school program at the U as well, which was my overall goal.”

Brian, a non-traditional student, recently graduated with a degree in history from Weber State University and now works as an editor for a local publisher:

“Honestly, it was cost, location, and scholarship offer that made me attend Weber.”

Holly earned a degree in parks, recreation, and tourism with an emphasis in therapeutic recreation and worked with at-risk youth in residential treatment for several years:

“I chose the U also because of scholarship opportunities and because I really liked the music and science programs….Ironically I didn’t end up studying either of those things, but I’m glad I ended up in the program I did! Also, not having to pay for housing was a motivating factor at the time.”

Erin graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in health science and policy and now works as an associate accountant at the University of Utah:

“I picked SLCC for convenience, and transferred to the U for similar — for both, I liked their online course offerings and flexible scheduling, and they were near my house when I needed to take the odd in-person class.”

Christian graduated from UVU with a degree in business:

“I realized that it’s not WHERE you go that will make it great or not. It’s what you DO that makes it great and that’s what made it great for me. I made a lot of friends and had many experiences at UVU to last a lifetime. UVU has smaller class sizes and as a student, you get to know the professors on a personal level. It was a great experience and am glad I chose UVU!”

Jacob Newman is a Community Outreach Officer with the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority (UHEAA) and financial aid expert. Before working with UHEAA, he worked as a Job Readiness Program Coordinator at the English Skills Learning Center. Jacob graduated with an MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Brigham Young University in August 2016. He speaks Thai, Spanish, and American Sign Language. Follow Jacob on TwitterInstagram, and Snapchat @stepupjacob.

The post Advice from Utah Students: How I Made My College Decision appeared first on Step Up Utah.

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By Sara Dorsey – Outreach Coordinator at Lt. Governor’s Commission on Service & Volunteerism


Happy Earth Day! In celebration, here are some reasons you should volunteer, either for the environment or in other ways! Also find volunteer opportunities at userve.utah.gov.

1. Scholarship Opportunities

Scholarships are available specifically to those who volunteer and give back to their communities. By volunteering, you can find new ways to pay for college.

2. Gain Work Experience

Now is the perfect time to start building your resume! By volunteering, you can develop skills you will need in your future career, and add community service to your resume.

3. References for Jobs and Higher Education

You will need references if you are heading to college, or if you are jumping right into employment. By volunteering regularly, you can network with professionals and receive the references you need.

4. Use Your Skills to Meet Community Needs

Do you love reading? Gaming? Sewing? Whatever your passion may be, you can find a way to use the skills you have to strengthen and improve your community!

5. Make New Friends

By volunteering, you can meet new people and work alongside others who are committed to making a difference.

6. Learn to Lead

Being a volunteer in your community will give you the chance to take charge in community efforts. The leadership skills learned while volunteering will grow your confidence, and will serve you well in college and your future employment.

Learn how to get involved in your community at userve.utah.gov.

Sara Dorsey – Outreach Coordinator
Lt. Governor’s Commission on Service & Volunteerism
300 South Rio Grande Street – Salt Lake City, Utah 84101
userve.utah.gov | sdorsey@utah.gov | 801-245-7281

The post Six Reasons to Volunteer in Your Community appeared first on Step Up Utah.

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This is the transcript for Season 2, Episode 13 (APril 10th, 2019) of the “Title IV + More Podcast for Utah Counselors and Educators” from Katie Wornek, Jacob Newman, and Bryan Lee at StepUp to Higher Education Utah.

Listen to the “Title IV + More Podcast for Counselors and Educators” on iTunes

Listen to the “Title IV + More Podcast for Counselors and Educators” on SoundCloud

Listen to the “Title IV + More Podcast for Counselors and Educators” on Google Play

Please be advised that the FAFSA and federal student aid are subject to change. While we ensure all the information we share in each episode is accurate at the time of the episode’s release, our statements are not insulated from future changes. If you have questions, we encourage you to call us at 801-869-5701 or  email us at outreach@utahsbr.edu.

Katie: Welcome and thank you for listening to StepUp Utah’s Title IV + More Podcast for counselors and educators. This podcast is brought to you by StepUp to Higher Education Utah – helping Utah’s students and parents prepare and pay for college. Find more about us at StepUpUtah.com.

Jacob: Welcome, listeners. I’m Jacob Newman and I’m a paying for college expert with StepUp Utah.

Katie: And I’m Katie Wornek, also a paying for college expert with StepUp. I’m going to kick off our episode this week with some news coming out of the Utah System of Higher Education, or USHE. They conducted a study using USBE data – Utah State Board of Education – as well as data from the National Student Clearing House. And they found that Utah students from low-income families participate in college at rates nearly 15% lower than their peers. It was found that low-income students, which is defined based on their free and reduced lunch eligibility – the first year out of high school, 38% of these students enrolled in postsecondary education, compared to 53% of their non-low-income peers. Luckily, each subsequent year beyond graduation, so again this study looked at the first year beyond graduation and then continued on – each year after that, more students from all socioeconomic classes enroll in college in general, but as we look at the gap of enrollment, the gap between low- and high-income students still remains about the same, it never closes. So if you’d like to read the full report, you can visit higheredutah.org to read this. But I just wanted to give those highlights and kind of have a round table discussion about what this means for counselors and educators across the state.

Jacob: You know, this is really interesting because we know that there are so many benefits to pursuing a postsecondary education, whether that be a one-year certificate, two-year degree, four-year degree, whatever that looks like. But we also know that financial barriers can be such a huge barrier to accessing higher education. And so, for particularly for these low-income families, we also know that a lot of these students are not filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and we know that this plays a huge role in accessing higher education. The National College Access Network, for example, has a study that they’ve conducted where they’ve determined that 90% of those that complete the FAFSA in their senior year of high school enroll immediately after high school graduation compared to 55% of non-filers. And I actually just read this morning that students in the lowest income quartile – they did a national study as well, the National College Access Network – and students in that low-income, in the lowest quartile, were 127% more likely to enroll if they completed a FAFSA.

Katie: Yea, and so the literature shows time and time again that the number one reason that students don’t attend college, or the reason they stop out of college classes is financial hardship. And so there’s this catch-22 that we’re seeing where it’s really hard to get ahead financially in today’s labor market without a degree or certificate, but these students also feel like, “Hey, I come from a low-income family and I can’t afford this.” So that is, to echo your sentiment, why it’s so important that low-income students, especially the ones that we know are going to qualify for need-based aid, are completing the FAFSA. If you have undocumented students who cannot complete the FAFSA but do find themselves in a low-income family, there are also resources out there to help them pay for college and the biggest one is private scholarships. So, if you have questions about where to find private scholarships for your undocumented students, we actually did an interview with the Dream Center at the University of Utah. That’s our episode from March 28th, so you can check out our podcast archives and take a look at that if you’re interested. They actually put together quite a bit of data for scholarships for undocumented students, not just at the University of Utah, but across the state.

Jacob: Awesome, and with that, I’m going to move on to our upcoming events that we have. So, just to make you aware, it’s getting close to the end of the school year, so we have quite a few things coming up. First of all, our FAFSA Cup – which is a professional development grant that we offer to counseling teams that incentivizes counseling teams to demonstrate their best practices that they use to encourage FAFSA completion. The deadline to apply for that is next week, which is April 15th, so get your submissions in so that we can reward you with that professional development grant and lunch with us. Another thing to be aware of is our StepUp to College Costs Scholarship deadline is also next week, which is April 15th. You can find the rules and the details of that scholarship on our website – www.stepuputah.com. Also, for those of you who are thinking to next year, for your FAFSA completion programming, if you’d like to have a FAFSA completion open house sponsored by the StepUp team, essentially where we help you with the logistics and we provide resources and assistance, make sure you submit your fall 2019 FAFSA completion event requests by May 3rd. This takes a lot of coordination for us to put these together. We partner with financial aid offices, we partner with other college access entities to make sure that you’re going to have coverage and training for your events, so we usually spend most of the summer preparing for this, so get those in by May 3rd so that we can have that ready.

Katie: Regarding those volunteer hours that we get from the financial aid offices, Jacob, I actually had to put together a presentation for the financial aid directors at all of our colleges and universities a couple of weeks ago. So I found, I dug up some data about all of our volunteer work that we received last school year – or this current school year, last fall – for our FAFSA Nights. The colleges and universities sent staff members to about 91% of our events, which is really impressive. We estimate that was about 550 hours of work that they just donated to our programming, to the schools themselves. And we kind of did just for fun a low-ball figure of what we thought that might mean in terms of salaries and travel to kind of calculate what that in-kind donation is. And we estimate that that is at least $10,000 worth of work that they’re donating to make these FAFSA Nights possible. So, just a big shout-out and thank-you to all of our colleges and universities.

Jacob: And with that, we will move on to our guest interview with TRIO at the University of Utah.

Jacob: Alright, for our guest interview this week, we are at TRIO at the University of Utah with Chris Macias and Luis Lopez. Chris Macias is the Academic Coordinator for TRIO and Luis Lopez is the Academic Advisor for TRIO. Thank you for joining us.

Luis: Thank you for having us.

Chris: Yes, thanks so much.

Jacob: Alright, so to get us started, can you tell us a little bit about the history and purpose of TRIO?

Chris: Sure. And I’ll start with this – one of the first things that we get asked all the time is, “What does TRIO stand for?” And the reality is that it is not an acronym. TRIO is a reference to series of three programs that were started in 1964 and officially implemented in 1965, which were Upward Bound, which is a high school college access and college retention program; Student Support Services, which is a program for students once they reach college to help retain them, to help them graduate. And lastly, a program called Talent Search which was for middle school students through college to find those who already have that talent, already have that potential to succeed in college and higher education and give them the necessary resources. So those were the first three that were started until there were a TRIO of programs, and that’s where the name came from. And so now we have grown to eight different programs nationwide in many different universities all across the different states. But we stuck with name TRIO. So, like I said, it started in 1964, officially implemented in 1965, signed by Lyndon B. Johnson. And we’ve been doing college access for first-generation, low-income students ever since.

Jacob: Awesome. So what schools here in Utah participate in TRIO?

Luis: So that’s going to look a little bit different. Our TRIO programs are federally funded and so different universities across the state will have TRIO programs and depending on whether they are, say, Student Support Services or Upward Bound or McNair, we serve in different schools. Here are the University of Utah, Student Support Services provides support for students who are enrolled here at the University of Utah. Upward Bound currently serves West High School, East High School, Kearns High School, and Highland High.

Jacob: Awesome. So what are some the successes that your program has experienced?

Chris: Well, as far as successes – first of all, being a nonprofit organization that’s funded by the Department of Education and being in existence for 50+ years is a huge accomplishment overall [laughs]. We unfortunately, many times, have been on the chopping block from different legislations from Congress saying, “Is this program really necessary? Because there are other ways to promote college access and college things like that at the state level.” But we fought that many times and said, “Yea, we need the Department of Education support and funding to continue helping these students that may not otherwise have the resources to do it.” So I think, first of all, just existing still is a great success. And locally, here in the state of Utah, having the support of many different parties, both Republican and Democrat and everything else in between, supports TRIO because 1) it’s legislated, and 2) because we’re getting first-generation, low-income students and students with disabilities into higher education. So for the most part, it is being supported and we actually had to do a lot of work to get that to happen. So now days, it’s just a matter of pulling up and talking about our successes, talking about our programs, talking about our goals being met so that the support continues. But even more locally, aside from the state level, is that here at the University of Utah, we are part of the Student Affairs division and they promote our programs, people understand what TRIO does, understand the difference between Upward Bound and Student Support Services for the most part. And we get recruitment being done for us as well, so the university is very supportive of us, Student Affairs division is always backing us up. And, if I may take down even one more level, just our students themselves, I mean, I personally love working directly with students. I love seeing them meet their own personal goals of getting to college and those who are in Student Support Services, you know,  staying in and graduating from college. And just seeing that cohort after cohort of student by student, to me, is a personal success. As a whole, it ties to just the entire history I just mentioned.

Jacob: Yea, I love that. That in-school support can’t be overstated. I feel like a lot of students, you know, they get to college and sometimes it’s a little bit overwhelming so it’s really great to have that support service in the school as well. So, tell us a little bit more about how TRIO helps Utah students prepare and pay for the costs of college. Let’s talk a little bit about some of the nitty gritty.

Luis: Definitely. So, with Upward Bound specifically, it’s imbedded into our programming is scholarship searches, how to write personal statements, how to fill out the financial aid applications, and so we provide that type of support. It’s not limited to something that’s directly through TRIO or through ASPIRE, which actually Chris can expound a little bit more on that support.

Chris: Right. So, as I mentioned, TRIO is a national organization. And so we’ve had to divide ourselves into different sub-regions of the national organization, so the region that we belong to is called ASPIRE, which is the Association of Special Programs in Region Eight. Which means we’re the 8th region. And we have different states working together to find scholarships at the regional level, to promote each other’s programs, to support each other’s initiatives, so even though we work at the state level, as a whole, we don’t compete with other universities. At different states, we still have that organizational structure to advocate at a national level for our TRIO programming at the Department of Ed. So ASPIRE is the one who really promotes the scholarships and promotes the funding source and kind of distributes that to our students.

Jacob: Awesome. So, what are some other opportunities that TRIO provides for students beyond kind of some of the things you mentioned so far?

Luis: Yea, I mean, the biggest thing I think TRIO programs across the board provide is support and that sense of community, which is key for student success. Here in Upward Bound, our main thing is college prep. And we pride ourselves in finding an individualized plan for each student so we recognize it’s a little different for everybody, whether they want to come straight to the University of Utah, go out of state, go to a community college. And so, college prep is the main opportunity as well as we do internships during our summer academy, we do community service, we like to look at holistic approaches that universities are taking and make sure that our students are well-rounded and experienced, that way they’re competitive when they’re applying to these schools. So there’s some of the opportunities.

Chris: And if I can expand just a little bit about what Luis mentioned – for the summer academy, that’s one thing that Upward Bound offers that I have not seen replicated in any other program. And that is what we call, like said, Summer Academy or summer programs. So what that is is we bring high school students in schools that we serve to the University of Utah to live on campus for six weeks. They stay here residentially, they eat here, they live here, they go to classes. We do offer credit for the courses that they do take. They participate in guest lectures, they participate in workshops about financial aid, about personal statement writing. They do the internships Luis mentioned, just all the things to immerse them in that full college experience while they’re still in high school. And they do that every summer from their incoming 9th grade year – the day they finish 8th grade – all the way to their summer between high school and college. And then they transition to Student Support Services program. And then if they do, if they continue that and they do well of course, they can transition into another school that has a TRIO program called McNair for graduate students. So the whole idea again, like I said, is to immerse them into that full college experience, give them that taste of what college life can really be like, and then pipeline them into the next program, and into the next program…And so I think these are some of the opportunities that aren’t as available in other places. There are great programming and other support services as well in the state of Utah, nationally, but I think this one’s very unique to upward bound.

Jacob: Awesome. So how can students and parents get involved in the program?

Chris: So, in TRIO, because we are grant funded, we have very specific guidelines that we have to meet, and unfortunately parental involvement is not something that’s stated on there. But that doesn’t mean we don’t do it. We believe in the research that parental and family involvement is going to only aid in the student’s support and student success. So, of course we do that anyways. So our parents join us here at the University of Utah and we talk about the same thing that students are learning each month thematically. And so it could be, this month we’re focusing on scholarships, so we have a scholarship parent week. It could be we’re talking about financial aid, we have financial aid parent week. Things like that. Of course, we’re also open and available to students and parents at all time to come and talk to us, to join us. We have parents here in this very room just discussing how they can help their students. We provide materials, we do work locally with StepUp, for example, to get some of their materials, the Utah College Advising Corps, wherever we can to bring the whole family together. We invite them to all our events, you know, just the basic things that have to be done. And of course, within the Student Affairs division, we try to get that support more than just for the programs themselves in Upward Bound, but from the University of Utah itself.

Luis: Let’s say for students that aren’t currently in our program but would like to reach out about participating, if you’re one of primary target schools, we are there once a week. So, just to throw it out there, you know, Kearns High, Monday after school we’re there. Tuesday’s West, Wednesday’s East, and Thursday’s Highland. Of course, you’re always more than welcome to come up to the University of Utah to our TRIO office where we can be found working but also hanging out a little bit and probably bumping some hip-hop or something, so, students are more than welcome to reach out to us.

Jacob: Anything else you want to add or anything else you wish counselors or educators knew about the TRIO programs? Any final thoughts?

Chris: Sure. TRIO loves to partner with as many people as we can. Like I said, we understand that it takes many people involved to have a student be successful. So we’re open to creating more partnerships through general college information sessions, outside of our target schools, meeting students. Even though we can’t actively recruit from school that’s not in our grant, we’re still happy to go out and talk to people, put workshops together. We have many, many interests that we can tie back to college. Like we mentioned, we talk about hip-hop all the time, we talk about art, we talk about music in general. Just so many different things that we know are relevant to student and are interesting to students. So if they can start thinking about college differently than just applications and just paperwork to do. So, yea, we love to partner with people. We love to be in the community. And TRIO works.

Jacob: What’s the best way to contact you if students or parents, counselors, educators have questions?

Chris: Yea, the easiest way is to simply visit our website, which is trio.utah.edu. On our website, there has links to both our Upward Bound program, our Student Support Services program, and to our regional organization where you can find all the different services that we offer to your schools or local universities.

Jacob: Awesome. Thank you so much for taking time to talk with us today.

Chris: Thanks so much for having us. We appreciate the opportunity.

Katie: Thanks, Jacob, for that guest interview. I am so happy that we had TRIO on the program. We are such big fans of all the work that they do for their students, especially helping those first generation students navigate the process of higher education. So now we’re going to move on to our FAFSA tip of the week and we’re going to feature a segment about income and asset verification on the FAFSA. So, if you didn’t already know, we actually just produced a series of short videos. You can find them on our YouTube channel, youtube.com/stepuputah. And these videos explain some of the most common FAFSA verification scenarios that your students will encounter. So if you need help, or if your students need help, you can check these out, once again, that’s youtube.com/stepuputah. Today we want to highlight the information that we cover in video #1, how to verify income and assets. The most common document financial aid offices are going to ask for when verifying income – household income – is a signed copy of the student’s or the parent’s tax return. And this requirement actually became a little more lenient this year. Colleges used to require a tax return transcript from the IRS instead of accepting a copy of the original tax return. But back in January, the Department of Education released new guidance allowing colleges to start accepting a signed copy of the original 1040, so it’s a little bit easier in a lot of circumstances for students to get that as opposed to a transcript. However, if a student or a parent can’t find their original tax return, it’s ok. They can still order a copy of their transcript on IRS.gov. Finally, if a student responded that they participate in a means-tested government program, such as, for example, if they receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, they might need to provide documentation or sign a statement pertaining to their receipt of that government assistance. And remember, the verification process varies from school to school, so if you have additional questions, it’s best to have the student directly contact the financial aid office at their college or university to get those questions answered. Next episode, we will continue our coverage of common verification issues by discussing verification of dependency status.

Jacob: Thank you for joining us this week. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to us. We are always happy to implement any of your suggestions that you have and we will see you next time.

Katie: Thanks for joining us.

Katie: StepUp to Higher Education is an outreach initiative of the state of Utah that empowers 8th-12th grade students and their families to prepare for college. We believe every Utah student should pursue education after high school, whether that be a 1-year certificate, a 2-year degree, a 4-year degree, or beyond that. We provide programs and resources to encourage college prep and success, as well as training and materials for school counselors like you. Thanks for listening to this episode of the Title IV + More podcast for counselors and educators. You can find more about us, order access and outreach materials, or request a StepUp Utah event at your school at..

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Step Up Utah Blog by Uheaa Outreach - 2M ago

By Katie Wornek, Outreach Officer and Financial Aid Expert – April 5, 2019

For most of us, having a job is an inevitable part of life. Research shows that:

  • 35% of 16- to 19-year olds have a summer job
  • 29% of teenagers work at their job all year long, and;
  • More than 70% of college students work at least part-time

And while the need to make money is, of course, one of the main reasons we work, having a job can also help you discover new passions, provide you with opportunities to learn and grow, and help you build meaningful connections with other people. Whether you’re currently in college, headed there soon, or still making your way through high school, here are some helpful tips for working students:

  • Know your limits. Some people can thrive while working and going to school at the same time, but for other students, it may not be the right fit. Remember that your emotional and physical wellbeing and your educational success should be your top priorities.
    While studies show that working a modest amount of hours (16-25 hours per week) can actually help students perform better in school, the right decision for you will depend on your personal and financial circumstances. It’s ok to focus on school full-time and opt not to have a job. And, if you do choose to work while you’re a student, don’t commit to working more hours than you can handle.
  • Be strategic about choosing your employer. Did you know that some employers will actually help you pay for college beyond just providing you a paycheck? An increasing number of businesses, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations offer scholarships, tuition discounts, or other education-related reimbursements or assistance for their employees. Spend some time researching employers in your area, and don’t be afraid to ask about these benefits during your application or interview process.
  • Consider work-study. Work-study jobs are part-time positions for college students, usually on-campus, that accommodate school schedules. In order to apply for a work-study job, you’ll first need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and choose “yes” when the FAFSA asks if you’re interested in work-study. If you qualify, you can then visit your college’s financial aid website or financial aid office to search, apply, and start interviewing for work-study jobs.
  • Save as much money as you can. Earning your own paycheck is a rewarding and exciting experience. What you do with that money depends on both your circumstances and your behaviors. You may have obligations to help your family financially, or you may find yourself having to resist the urge to spend every penny of your leftover money on the things you enjoy. However, it is important to put as much of your paycheck as you can into a college savings account. Creating a budget and sticking to it can help make this a little easier. Remember, every dollar you save today means one less dollar you might need to borrow to pay for college. You can set up a savings account through your bank or credit union, or you can set up an account with Utah’s educational savings plan, my529.

 
 

If you have any additional questions about managing your college costs, contact us at 801-869-5701 or outreach@utahsbr.edu.

Katie is an Outreach Officer with UHEAA and StepUpUtah. She holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in History and Political Science from the University of Utah and previously worked as a tutor with the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) college preparatory program. You can follow her for professional advice about preparing and paying for college on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (@StepUpKatie).

The post Advice for Working Students appeared first on Step Up Utah.

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Brigham Young University is a private, non-profit research university in Provo, Utah wholly owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Choosing where to go to college can be a crazy ride! There are a lot of great options out there– finding the best fit for you can be hard. BYU has a lot to offer! We wanted to share our reasons Y we chose to come to BYU. Hopefully, our experiences can help you find your own reasons Y!

Meet Kortlynn

Hey! I’m Kortlynn, a senior at BYU studying public relations. I’m from a tiny town in Arizona. I started my college journey at a local junior college, but after my mission, I decided to apply to BYU. Here are my reasons Y:

  • Awesome Programs: BYU is a very hands-on school. Our professors prepare us to use what we learn and inspire our learning. I’ve had incredible opportunities to apply what I’ve learned with real clients in my program.
  • Spiritual Learning: I wanted to go to a place where I could study with the Spirit. I’ve loved that even outside my classes I’m able to freely apply everything I’ve learned, both spiritually and secularly.
  • The World is Our Campus: Part of getting a great education is learning from other people and cultures. I was drawn to BYU because we have an amazing study abroad program covering 57 countries. I get to go study in New York this spring and then go to Germany in the fall! The world really does become your campus and we’re able to learn wherever we go.

Meet Garret

My name is Garret! I’m from Lehi, UT and currently studying Physiology and Developmental Biology. Here is my reason Y:

  • Enter to learn; go forth to serve: I chose to come to BYU because I wanted to be part of something bigger than myself. One of our mottos is “enter to learn; go forth to serve,” which pretty much sums up the purpose of a BYU education. Here there’s a combination of a commitment to rigorous standards of excellence, but without forgetting that the whole point of gaining knowledge is to make the world a better place. It’s been personally enriching to be a part of a community of very different people, students and faculty, with different perspectives and talents, who are all committed to this same mission. Even though everyone here shares a commitment to common values, students come from all different walks of life, nationally and internationally—it’s amazing how much variety and diversity there is here! We’re not perfect by any means, but I love the commitment there is to continuously strive to better live up to these lofty goals. It’s a privilege to have my name connected with this institution. I’ve loved my time at BYU and I’m looking forward to doing my part to continue this legacy and mission as I “go forth to serve.” 

Meet Lauren

Hey, future cougars! I’m Lauren, a sophomore at BYU from Boise, Idaho studying marketing & communications. Here’s my college experience and Y I chose BYU:

  • Education: One reason I chose BYU is because I knew I’d be going to a school that offered a great education. We consistently rank among top universities for engaged learning, best colleges, and best-value schools!
  • Fun Atmosphere: BYU isn’t just about academics, it has something for everyone! At BYU, I have discovered things that I love to do and have found people that I love to be with. Between camping outside in the freezing cold for a football game, and hiking the Y at midnight, I absolutely love the fun atmosphere that BYU offers! I’ve also joined many different organizations like A Capella club, Women in Business club, and the BYU Intramural Program.

  • Home Away from Home: BYU is more than a school to me, it’s home. There’s no campus quite like BYU. I love the legacy and tradition that BYU carries. I am grateful for all the memories that I’ve made so far, and I will never forget my time here as a student. #blessed

These were just some of our reasons Y. Come visit our campus and see if you can find your reasons Y!

Learn more about Brigham Young University on our Utah College Directory!

The post #WhyUtahColleges (BYU): Here Are Our Reasons Y, What are Yours? appeared first on Step Up Utah.

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