In honor of National Higher Education Day, we raise awareness about the power of higher education and the need to make college affordable for all.
The Value of College
As a financial aid professional, you know the value of higher education because you’re on the front lines, helping students every day. For traditional college students, college offers a first chance to leave home, make new friends, become independent, and enjoy a well-rounded social and academic experience. But graduation from college continues to offer students other benefits:
- The promise of greater career opportunities.
- Greater earning power than peers without degrees.
- Better benefits than those of peers without degrees.
- Critical thinking skills.
- A network for finding future opportunities.
- Greater job security/lower unemployment rate than peers without degrees.
How College is Changing
While undergraduate enrollments were beginning to trend downward prior to the pandemic, data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center shows that enrollment has decreased by 8% during the pandemic. As we discussed in a previous blog, colleges and universities have adapted greatly to the many changes brought on by the pandemic. Where, when, and how students learn has evolved – and the on-campus support needed by students and what they seek after graduation has and will continue to change.
The need to simplify the process of applying for college and accessing funds to pay for college has been made even clearer since the pandemic. As we celebrate National Higher Education Day, we hope that higher education institutions and the federal government can continue to make changes to help make accessing college – and the funds to pay for education – easier for all students.
Finding Free Money to Pay for College
Using as much free money as possible before borrowing money to pay for college is the best way for students to avoid taking on more debt than they can support. Filing the FAFSA® is a necessary step for students to qualify for free money in the form of grants, scholarships, and federal work-study.
Scholarships are one of the best ways for students to supplement college costs. Your office may have its own sources for sharing scholarship opportunities with incoming and current students and families. In addition to working with your financial aid office and their high school office, we suggest these:
- U.S. Department of Labor’s free scholarship search tool
- Students’ and parents’ employers
- Other local organizations
About National Higher Education Day
National Higher Education Day was founded in 2015 by Izamar Olaguez and Marcie Hronis, with a purpose of motivating students to pursue higher education and make college accessible for all. The day is typically used to help educate students about the obtaining a college degree, help them prepare mentally and financially to pursue higher education, and find ways to get scholarships to help pay for school. 1
Colleges and businesses can help advocate for National Higher Education Day by sharing their scholarship opportunities or by donating to a scholarship program. Individuals can post photos about their education, their academic goals, or how their career has been helped by their education. In these posts, it’s helpful to use #NationalHigherEducationDay.
We Celebrate You
As we celebrate National Higher Education Day, we celebrate your vital role in making higher education accessible for so many students. You’re the face so many current and past students think of when they reflect back on how they were able to get into college and figure out how to pay for it. While we know that you do so much more in the financial aid office than working with students, we have so much respect for the importance of that responsibility. Thanks for all you do.
Footnote 1National Higher Education Day