Friday Letter 2016-09-02:
Important Changes for College-Bound Students
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The University of Idaho remains committed to bringing more students — especially Idaho students — into the life-changing, career-shaping experience of higher education. That has been a central goal of my presidency. This fall we are rolling out ways to make getting to college easier and paying for college more affordable.
First: We are eliminating the application fee for Idaho residents. This $60 charge typically accompanies completion of the necessary paperwork to claim one’s spot at the university. But I want to continue streamlining the application process to ensure Idaho students have access to the best university in our state. While $60 may be a small hurdle, it is a hurdle nonetheless. We don’t want students to trip up on those critical first steps toward a college degree, a rewarding career and a great life.
Second, we are excited about the state’s Direct Admit program, offering high school students automatic admission to Idaho’s public colleges and universities, based on their academic qualifications. Students should expect a letter soon from the state informing them of their choices and next steps. The University of Idaho will follow up with those students, offering guidance on how to complete the process and get started with a Vandal education.
Those steps are about getting to college. What about paying for college? An important change students and parents should be aware of is the ability to take advantage of the new Oct. 1 FAFSA date. This has important ramifications for financial aid. Instead of waiting until next spring’s tax filing deadline, families can now complete the 2017-18 FAFSA starting October 1, using their previous year’s (2015) income information. (You may see this change referred to as “early FAFSA” or “prior-prior year” reporting.) Families will have more clarity, sooner, about what to expect in financial support.
Our university is moving its priority date for financial aid up from February 15 to December 1. Students who have completed the application process (and Idaho students who have completed the Direct Admit process) will begin to receive notice of their financial awards as soon as mid-December. While students can still qualify for scholarships and financial aid after December 1, we want as many families as possible to be aware of their financial aid packages before the holiday season.
Each student and family should have as much information as possible, and as much time as possible to digest it, to make a good choice about college.
The University of Idaho is our state’s leader in educational quality and in college affordability: value that makes UI a great choice. UI awarded $25 million in scholarships this fall, more than any other public institution in the state. More than $8 million of that support came from gifts and endowments thanks to the contributions of Vandal alumni and friends. Scholarship support helped families across the income spectrum make college a reality – for instance, we helped more than 4,000 Idaho students with family incomes averaging $41,000 afford tuition and fees, room and board, and books.
The best ambassador for the value of a Vandal education is the success of our graduates. Getting in to college and making it affordable can be daunting, but we know that it pays off for students and is essential in today’s world. Vandal alumni, please help us spread the word about these exciting changes and the value of your experience at UI.