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Changes to Federal Aid Brings Benefits to Students

MARIETTA, Ohio (July 12, 2016)—Last year President Obama announced significant changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) that will impact students beginning this fall. Washington State Community College (WSCC) Director of Financial Aid Shannon Venezia was recently on Capitol Hill giving accolades to Congress for strides made and advocating for continued improved reform of the federal aid program.

The initial changes will unfurl this fall when the filing date of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will be moved from January 1 to October 1. The FAFSA is a required form submitted to the government in order to receive financial aid from federal programs, many state programs and even institutional aid programs, which can help pay for higher education opportunities.

The government has also changed the tax year for which the FAFSA is based.  Applications will now utilize income information from two years prior. For example, on the 2017–18 FAFSA, an applicant will report their 2015 income information.  

Venezia cited the value of these changes is three-fold. First, they eliminate the delay of waiting for tax forms. Secondly, it should make the FAFSA application process easier because applicants, in many circumstances, will be able to use IRS data retrieval. Lastly, it will give families more time to look at the cost of college and make informed decisions about what school the student should attend based on aid eligibility.

Ultimately these changes are meant to encourage students to file the FAFSA because colleges and the government use it to allot need-based and some merit-based financial aid.  Venezia advised families not to assume they aren’t qualified to receive aid. According to a recent Sallie Mae survey, last year a quarter of households whose earnings were more than $100,000 received an average $9,000+ in grants.

Recently, on a visit to Washington as a member of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, Venezia met with congressional staffers from offices of Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Representative Bill Johnson (R-OH) and Delegate Eleanor Homes Norton (D-DC) and spoke on the behalf of community colleges when she offered praises for their efforts at improving aid opportunities, and encouragement for further reform.

She identified the reinstatement of year-round Pell grant, which is money awarded to students based on need and does not have to be repaid, as a step in the right direction, but she also encouraged them to legislate change for the earlier release of eligibility breakdowns of Pell funds.

Currently, Venezia communicates to a student what she anticipates their award to total near the end of the year, however, because the government doesn’t release exact figures until the end of January, the awarded amount can fluctuate by as much as $200. “That’s a book for some of our students, and could be what keeps them out of school,” she acknowledged.

Improvements to the Pell Grant in particular, are especially valuable to community colleges, specifically WSCC which is the smallest community college in Ohio, where 70% of its population is eligible for federal aid dollars. “For a community college, this is our lifeblood,” explained Venezia.

While her trip to DC was primarily to give praise to Congress for the financial aid improvements they’ve made and encouragement for continued work, she was elated to learn of an exciting opportunity in the pipeline. Senator Brown's office disclosed to Venezia that he plans to introduce a bill to eliminate origination fees on students loans, which are fees charged by lenders to cover the cost of processing a loan.

 “For our students who can borrow the maximum of $10,500, that’s $112 a year being paid to the Department of Education,” Venezia confirmed.  As the bill is in its infancy and still needs support for other members of congress, “this is another positive move to improve the affordability of higher education.”

For anyone interested in enrolling at WSCC, classes are scheduled to begin August 15. FAFSA priority processing for fall term has passed, however, students can still apply for aid. For more information, contact Venezia at 740.568.1908 orfinaid@wscc.edu.

For 44 years, Washington State Community College has provided residents of the Mid-Ohio Valley the opportunity to realize dreams, to enhance skills, and to broaden understanding. Whether you are a recent high school graduate or an adult student looking to move your life in a new direction, Washington State has the classes to suit your needs. For more information about Washington State Community College, visit www.wscc.edu or call 740.374.8716.

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MARIETTA, OH (June 28, 2016) – Students with an associate degree from Washington State Community College (WSCC) will have a new, more flexible option to achieve a bachelor’s degree thanks to a partnership announced with HerzingUniversity.

DEGREE UP provides a student-centered, affordable educational opportunity for WSCC students. Following students’ completion of an associate degree and application to DEGREE UP, they can pursue credit from both institutions simultaneously, including additional courses through WSCC. This partnership will allow students to get educational training while taking advantage of an additional two years of tuition rates for many of the required bachelor’s level courses.

“The collaboration between WSCC and Herzing is a great example of how we add value to our students’ academic endeavors. With this newly established relationship, our graduates can easily augment their education to earn their bachelor’s degree from Herzing,” explained Dr. Bradley Ebersole, President at WSCC.

DEGREE UP students will take their courses from Herzing University online or at one of Herzing’s brick-and-mortar campuses, such as in Akron or Toledo, allowing them to stay and finish their bachelor’s degree in-state. The end result is a bachelor’s degree from Herzing University in as little as four years.  

For Herzing University, the DEGREE UP program serves as a nationwide model for career-focused education.

“We want to give all students an equal opportunity to pursue competitive, career-ready degrees,” said Herzing University Akron Campus President Bill Cassidy. “Everyone should be able to earn a bachelor’s degree in the most efficient manner possible, without having to worry about a difficult transition between schools.”

For 44 years, Washington State Community College has provided residents of the Mid-Ohio Valley the opportunity to realize dreams, to enhance skills, and to broaden understanding. Whether you are a recent high school graduate or an adult student looking to move your life in a new direction, Washington State has the classes to suit your needs. For more information about Washington State Community College, visit www.wscc.edu or call 740.374.8716.

About Herzing University
Herzing University, a private nonprofit academic institution, encompasses 11 campuses in eight states, a continuing education division, an online division, and has a current enrollment of approximately 6,000 students. Founded in Milwaukee in 1965, today the University offers career-focused, convenient and caring education for master’s, bachelor’s, and associate degrees, diplomas and continuing education in the fields of nursing, technology, business, healthcare, design and public safety.  In 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, U.S. News & World Report ranked Herzing University as one of the “Best Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs” nationally. Herzing University has also been recognized as a member of the 2015 GI Jobs Magazine’s list of “Military Friendly Schools.” Herzing University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. More information about Herzing University is available at www.herzing.edu

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MARIETTA, Ohio (May 24, 2016)--Washington State Community College is pleased to recognize the students who have earned a place on the President's andDean's lists for the 2016 Spring semester.  

These outstanding scholastic achievements are earned by students who carry a minimum of 12 credit hours and attain a 4.0 grade point average (GPA) to receive President's List honors or a minimum 3.5 - 3.9 GPA for Dean's List recognition. Congratulations to these 224 students. We, at WSCC, look forward to your continued strides toward greatness.

For 44 years, Washington State Community College has provided residents of the Mid-Ohio Valley the opportunity to realize dreams, to enhance skills, and to broaden understanding. Whether you are a recent high school graduate or an adult student looking to move your life in a new direction, Washington State has the classes to suit your needs. For more information about Washington State Community College, visit www.wscc.edu or call 740.374.8716.

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MARIETTA, Ohio (June 21, 2016)—Washington State Community College (WSCC) is proud to recognize the 52 area high school students who were awarded a scholarship to attend our school this fall. Each of these students has worked hard to find academic success, and the faculty and staff here at WSCC want to recognize those efforts by investing in their future. In total, WSCC awarded $175,950 in academic scholarship dollars that these students will apply to their education costs over the next two years.

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Judge Lane Slated to be WSCC Commencement Speaker

MARIETTA, Ohio (May 5, 2016)—Washington State Community College (WSCC) is pleased to announce that Judge Ed Lane will be the commencement speaker for its spring graduation ceremony.

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