NASFAA Mention: Inconsistent Information on Indirect Expenses

"​For Ruby Portillo and her friends, the possibility of becoming homeless is a genuine fear. ...Debbie Matesun, a student at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, faces the same struggles. She works multiple jobs to cover nontuition expenses, but it's not enough. ... These students are not alone. They spoke at a news conference sponsored by Representative Ayanna Pressley, which focused on a new study on indirect college expenses from uAspire, a nonprofit focused on making college affordable for all," Inside Higher Ed reports.

"The uAspire study found broad discrepancies in both how transparent institutions are and how they calculated estimates for indirect expenses. At most institutions, these nontuition costs make up more than half of the total price of attending college.

It's difficult for students to earn enough to offset these costs. The average federal work-study jobs for undergraduates cover only 19 percent of nontuition costs, according to Laura Keane, uAspire chief policy officer and a co-author of the report.

The lack of information and incorrect cost estimates can also lead some students, like Matesun, to face unexpected expenses. The researchers said they were shocked by how many colleges left this information out completely, or at least made it difficult to find, said Brendan Williams, director of knowledge at uAspire and a co-author of the report.

​... Higher education experts agree this is an important issue to solve. The report's recommendations, such as increasing funding for the federal Pell Grant and requiring institutions to provide clear breakdowns explaining how they calculated the costs, are keys to solving this problem, according to Megan McClean Coval, vice president of policy at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

Sometimes, institutions face challenges from software providers when trying to comply with the latter recommendation, McClean Coval said. Part of NASFAA's code of conduct requires colleges to break down costs, but that doesn't work with all software."

NASFAA's "Notable Headlines" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Articles included under the notable headlines section are not written by NASFAA, but rather by external sources. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.


Publication Date: 6/26/2020

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