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SECONDARY SCHOOL COUNSELORS

Knowledge of Financial Aid Topics

A large majority of seconday school counselors reported that they were generally either somewhat prepared (52 percent) or very prepared (40 percent) to discuss college costs and financial aid with students and families.

Counselor’s level of knowledge varied for specific topics related to financial aid.

Percentage of Secondary School Counselors Who Reported Being Well-Versed in Specific Financial Aid Topics

Topics

Percent

Well-Versed

FAFSA application process and deadlines

67.5

Need-based vs merit-based aid

64.4

Interpreting the financial aid award letter

50.5

Identifying private scholarships

47.0

Difference between federal loans and private loans

42.1

Net price (vs sticker price)

37.7

Terms of federal student loans

29.3

Using the net price calculator

28.2

Loan repayment options, including income-based repayment

24.0

Terms of federal PLUS loans

15.7

CSS Profile process and deadlines

12.1

 

Counselors also found it difficult to answer more complex questions from students and families about borrowing.  

Percentage of Secondary School Counselors Who Reported Difficulty Answering Specific Financial Aid Questions from Students and Families

Questions

Very Hard

Somewhat Hard

Should I/we take out loans to pay for college?

8.8

28.3

What happens to student loans if I/our child doesn't finish college?

14.1

30.2

Should I/we negotiate the financial aid package offered?

14.8

33.6

How do I/we negotiate a financial aid package?

21.5

34.4

What happens if I/we cannot repay student/parent loans?

21.9

38.4

Which kind of loan is the best for me/us?

20.3

40.9

How much can I/we afford to borrow?

27.4

37.3

 

Positive Effects of Professional Training

At secondary schools where training was provided, half of counselors reported being very prepared to discuss college costs and financial aid with student and families, compared to 35 percent at schools where training was not provided.

Counselors who received training also reported higher levels of knowledge on a variety of specific financial aid topics and found it less difficult to answer certain student and family questions related to paying for college.

Effects of Training on Secondary School Counselors' Knowledge of Specific Financial Aid Topics

 

Percent Well-Versed

Topics

Training

Provided

No Training

FAFSA application process

74.3

64.1

CSS Profile process

18.5

9.0

Net price (vs sticker price)

44.7

34.5

Need-based vs merit-based aid

70.3

61.6

Using a net price calculator

34.8

25.1

Terms of federal loans

36.8

25.8

Difference between federal and private loans

52.9

37.3

Loan repayment options

32.8

19.9

Identifying private scholarships

51.6

44.9

Terms of federal PLUS loans

23.6

12.0

Interpreting the financial aid award letter

56.2

47.7

 

Effects of Training on Secondary School Counselors Difficulty Answering Specific Financial Aid Questions from Students and Families

 

Percent Reporting Question is Somewhat or Very Hard to Answer

Questions

Training

Provided

No Training

Should I/we take out loans to pay for college?

40.5

29.9

How much can I/we afford to borrow?

69.4

54.6

Which kind of loan is the best for me/us?

66.4

49.7

What happens if I/our child doesn't finish college?

46.7

38.7

What happens if I/we cannot repay student/parent loans?

64.4

51.3

Should I/we negotiate the financial aid package offered?

51.8

40.8

How do I/we negotiate a financial aid package?

59.5

47.8

 

Limited Access to Training

Only 31 percent of secondary counselor survey respondents worked at schools that provided training related to financial aid. Among those schools, four percent required that training.

Among secondary schools offering training, 77 percent covered all costs, 15 percent covered some costs, and eight percent did not cover any cost associated with the training. 

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