Pick from the federal student loan smorgasbord

If you need to borrow to finance your education, federal student loans should be first on your menu. Congress and the U.S. Department of Education regulate federal student loans, setting maximum interest rates, borrowing limits, and other important loan terms, reports U.S. News & World Report. These loans come in loads of different flavors. Here’s a taste of what you might borrow:

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For-profit colleges face more scrutiny in new report

Enrollment at for-profit colleges has climbed to 1.8 million in recent years.
Enrollment at for-profit colleges has climbed to 1.8 million in recent years.

A government report released Aug. 4 details “fraudulent” practices among recruiters for some for-profit colleges, and public criticism of the popular institutions has mounted as recent statistics show that at least one for-profit university received $1 billion in federal Pell Grants during the 2009-10 academic year.

Investigators from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) posed as college students and found that four out of 15 institutions they examined “encouraged fraudulent practices” to secure federal student loans, and representatives from all 15 colleges “made deceptive or otherwise questionable statements” to the undercover students, according to a report published on the GAO’s web site.

The extensive report is the latest in a string of negative publicity for for-profit schools, which include industry giants such as the University of Phoenix, Kaplan University, and DeVry University.…Read More

Technology makes student aid more accessible

Students have increasingly looked to the web for financial aid.
Students have increasingly looked to the web for financial aid.

Over the past decade and a half, the internet has made it easier for families to learn about, find, and apply for college scholarships, government grants, and other types of student financial aid. This transformation of the financial aid industry continues even today with a simplified federal aid form and a new XML data standard that will make applying for scholarships easier than ever.

I have acted as a catalyst for some of these major developments and have a unique perspective on the role of the internet in paying for college.

I founded the FinAid web site in the early 1990s to help people plan for and pay for college by making the process easier to understand and more efficient. FinAid was one of the internet’s first web sites, not just one of the first web sites about student financial aid. It is also one of the oldest web sites still in existence.…Read More