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The Indiana Daily Student

education

DOE unveils financial aid kit

The United States Department of Education launched its online Financial Aid Toolkit on Dec. 4. The toolkit is designed to guide student advisers and counselors in the process of helping students choose a college.

“By equipping counselors and mentors with financial aid information, we can help to ensure current and potential students are getting the assistance they need to successfully navigate the process of planning and paying for a postsecondary education,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement.

Duncan said this toolkit builds on the administration’s ongoing efforts to improve college access and affordability, and it is an important step toward meeting the President’s 2020 goal of having the most college graduates in the world.

Martha Kanter, U.S. under secretary of Education, explained that the toolkit has shifted and combined many financial aid resources into one searchable database.

“That makes it easy for individuals to quickly access the information they need to support students on their path to college, including details on how to apply for financial aid along with presentations, brochures and videos,” Kanter said in a statement.

The toolkit includes resources for choosing which college to attend, how to apply for financial aid and how to pay off student loans. It also includes materials specifically for advisers such as presentations on these topics and training resources for more effective counseling.

Duncan said this toolkit is an important first step in ensuring every student can graduate with the proper degree.

“Simply put, our current system of financial aid is unsustainable,” Duncan said. “We can’t regain our global leadership in college attainment and enhance our economic competitiveness when so many students are left with steep student loan debts but no degree.”

Duncan also said if the toolkit is deemed effective, a college rating system should be implemented that allows people to get the most from their money.

“We’ll be traveling across the country to engage with everyone who can help us design an effective ratings system that helps students make smarter decisions about financial aid,” Duncan said.

Duncan said in order to build a sustainable college system, the government, schools, parents and students must all participate.

“We must all be in this together. No one gets a pass,” Duncan said. “I am absolutely convinced that financial aid officers must help lead the way toward that collective solution.”

— Stephen Kroll

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