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    Week 1-Class Description

    Instructor: Sarah Wilson-Sparrow

    Contact Information:

    Welcome! This week we will focus on getting to know one another as well as discuss how postsecondary transition is managed in our various programs.  The College Navigation for Adult Learners Professional Development Course is designed to share best practices and provide a framework to serve this population better. 

    The College Transition course was piloted in an Adult Education Program in response to:
    • An increase of students testing in at the eleventh grade or higher in math and reading with the goal of entering postsecondary education.  
    • After successful GED® acquisition, students were finding it difficult to navigate the college application process.

     The pilot focused on GED® success, as well as introduced students to the writing, math, reading and critical thinking skills necessary for the rigors of postsecondary education.  Adult learners were then assisted with the college application from financial aid to admissions.  Staff worked closely with the student, community agencies and college representatives to procure additional funding beyond standard federal and state funds ie: Workforce Investment Act, Unemployment Insurance extensions, GI Bill, etc.   The pilot proved successful and became a standard offering in the program.  As a result, the number of students achieving the postsecondary goal doubled between the 2008/2009 and 2011/2012 school years.   Ninety-eight percent of the students assisted in the program received full federal and state funding as well as additional funding sources.  


     Adult college learner 

    Every student has their own set of challenges.  The greatest challenge is preconceived notions.  Many students keep themselves from realizing their dream of postsecondary education because of barriers that do not exist.  Some of the most common barriers are tuition expense, transportation, childcare and unrealistic goal setting. 


     Keep in Mind:
    •       Educational Opportunities
    •       Student Viability/College Readiness 
    •       Funding Opportunities
    •       In-Demand Professions 

    Please note highlighted words contain links to helpful definitions and websites.  Each module contains a homework assignment and/or discussion forum.  The homework must be completed at the end of the week and each participant will be expected to participate in  discussion forums with at least one post. 







  • Week 2-Financial Aid & Additional Funding Opportunities

    This module focuses on Financial Aid and additional funding sources in the community.  Pel and TAP grants are the standard that every student should apply for, but there are additional avenues to pursue.  We will also focus on student loans.   

    Education Pays 

    A high school diploma/GED®  is not sufficient in this incredibly competitive job market.  Students in the College Transition course are strongly encouraged to consider the benefits of postsecondary education and/or training.  The all important issue is "can I afford it"?  Most students are eligible for extensive funding, but are unaware of opportunities available to them.  This is where informed Adult Education staff is key.

    It is important to understand the difference between grants and loans.  In many cases, our students are the first in their family to achieve a high school education, let alone attend college.  This population is often ill-equipped to make a decision about how much debt is manageable.  The goal is to set students on a path toward a profession/career and independence--not to be saddled with insurmountable debt. 

    ***An important caveat, it must be made clear that if a student quits before the end of a semester they will have a bill.  This is whether their tuition was paid through grants or loans.  If a student is having difficulty, they MUST contact the college immediately. *** 

    Below please find information on possible funding sources for students.

    cap and money

    FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid

    TAP: Tuition Assistance Program

    Financial Aid Particulars:

    Special Circumstance Form: 

    • Dramatic change in financial situation due to changed marital status
    • Loss of job, uninsured medical or dental expense 


    Independent Status:

    •   Student must be 24 years of age or older or
    •   A parent, veteran, orphan, married, a ward of the state 
    •   Emancipated minor
     "Packaging" to award letter:
    • Student receives an award letter stating the amount of grants and loans to which they are entitled  
    • Student must sign off on what part of their financial aid package they will accept and/or decline 
    • Discuss the difference between loans and grants 
     Student loan debt

    According to Bloomberg Businessweek, "In 2010 student debt exceeded credit-card debt for the first time. In 2011 it surpassed auto loans. In March, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced that student debt had passed $1 trillion. It grew by $300 billion from the third quarter of 2008 even as other forms of debt shrank by $1.6 trillion, according to a separate tabulation by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York." 

    Student Loans:

    It is critical to explain the dangers of student loan debt clearly to our student population.  Below is a brief description of student loans both subsidized and unsubsidized.  It is also important to explain that a student is expected to begin paying back student loans six months after a student stops attending college.  This expectation is regardless of whether the student has achieved a degree or certification.  Loan deferrals are possible and are determined based upon a student's income.  The subsidized loan is the best choice because there is no interest charged while a student is attending school, during the 6 month grace period, or the loan is in deferment.  Also, a student does not need to take out the full loan amount.  For example, if the student is eligible for up to $9500 in loans for a school year and only needs $500 they can take out only that amount.  The student loans are available throughout the academic year even if they are initially refused.  If the student finds they are in need of the funding, they must speak with the Financial Aid office immediately as this can be a lengthy process. 

    Direct Subsidized Loans:

    • For students with financial need.
    • You must be enrolled at least half-time.
    • No interest is charged while you are in school at least halftime, during your grace period, and during deferment periods.
    • You do not have to make payments while you are attending school at least half-time and during your grace period.
    • You will receive a six-month grace period after you drop below half-time.

    Direct Unsubsidized Loans:

    • Not based on financial need.
    • You must be enrolled at least half-time.
    • Interest is charged during all periods.
    • You do not have to make payments while you are attending school at least half-time and during your grace period, but interest will continue to be charged.
    • You will receive a six month grace period after you drop below half-time.

     Master Promissory Note (MPN):

    A common form that serves as a legal and binding contract for borrowing Stafford, Parent PLUS, and Student PLUS Loans—either in multiple academic years or for a single academic year. The MPN contains the loan's terms and conditions, including the borrower's responsibilities for repaying the loan.

    Loan Counseling:  Counseling session provides information about how to manage your student loans, both during and after college. This session is required for all first-time borrowers and must be completed before loans are certified with the lender.      

    Above and beyond FAFSA and TAP grants, and student loans, there are numerous funding opportunities available to students.   It is important that students understand the difference between loans and grants.   

    Additional funding sources:

    •      Unemployment Insurance extensions 
    •      Workforce Investment Act (WIA)
    •      599/599.2
    •      Veteran benefits (veterans & dependents)
    •      HEOP: Higher Education Opportunity Program
    •      Healthcare grants
    •      Access VR
    •      STEM


    ***150% Rule***

    Financial Aid recipient will be terminated upon reaching 150 percent of the number of credits needed to complete their degree or certificate program. This regulation applies to all students, including those that have not previously received financial aid. For example, a student working toward an A.A. degree needs 60 hours to graduate. Once the student attempts 90 hours he/she is no longer eligible for financial aid. (60 hrs. x 150 percent = 90 hrs.) Under extenuating circumstances the 150 percent rule may be appealed. The 150 percent rule applies to all classes attempted by the student, including vocational and transfer hours. Students must make other arrangements to pay their tuition and fees if their financial aid is terminated and they do not appeal or their appeal is denied.

    Please see below links for helpful information on funding opportunities. 

    Homework assignment below to be completed by the end of the week.



  • Week 3-Admissions Clearance Process

    This week we will focus on the Admissions Clearance Process.  Every higher education institution has an admissions protocol.  It is important for the educator/transition specialist to understand the process in order to assist the student. This is what has worked in our program. 

    After GED® acquisition, the student (with the help of staff) fills out financial aid paperwork, a college application and sets a college Admissions appointment.  If the student prefers, staff attends the preliminary admissions appointment and completes the "clearance process" with them.  The clearance process includes official acceptance from college Admissions, a visit to the Registrars, Bursars, and Financial Aid offices, a campus tour and scheduling a placement test. 

    Students may also be eligible for a book deferral.  What this means is part of a student's financial aid is allocated for books each semester.  For example, the community college in our area sets $700 aside per semester to cover books.  If the student does not use the full book deferral amount, they will receive a refund of the unused portion approximately two thirds of the way through the semester.  

    The local community college in our area has an Early Childhood Education program and on-campus daycare.  Students are able to have their child/children (18months to 4 years) attend the daycare utilizing financial aid, DSS funding or direct pay.

    If a student does not have transportation, they may be eligible for a transit pass.  This pass is purchased with finanacial aid dollars every semester.  Each educational institution will have a different way of addressing this need.  Check with the academic advisor.

    Because of the strong relationship with our local community college, the application fee is waived as many students are not employed or are under-employed.  This may be an option in your area.  Contact Admissions directly to see if this is a possibility.

    Below please find a check list of what to expect when assisting a student though the process.  It is important for the student to understand that this process can be lengthy and will require patience.  For this reason, begin the process early in the course in order to avoid unnecessary delays.

    college Admissions Maze


    •       Application
    •       Admissions Decision
    •       Tuition Fee Waiver
    •       Diploma/Transcript
    •       SAT/ACT Results
    An official responsible for keeping a register or official records
    •       Immunization Records
    •       If a student does not have their records, contact their high school     school or doctor's office 
    •       County nursing services offer affordable booster shots
    An official in charge of funds, as at a college or university; a treasurer.
    •       Billing
    •       Book deferral
    •       Tuition fee waiver
    Student Development:
    •       Placement Testing
    •       Academic advisement
    •       Referral to Academic Support services

      Financial Aid:Fafsa

    •      Tax return from previous year (IRS transcript)
    •      Book deferral
    •      Work Study
    •      W2
    •      If the student is chosen for verification, there is  additional paperwork that will need to be filled out. 
    Academic Support Services:
    • Bridge Program- A program specifically designed to assist a student attend college courses and achieve a degree or certificate  
    • TRiO- Educational opportunity outreach programs designed to motivate and support students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
    • Writing Center and Math Lab
    • Peer Tutors
    • Students with documented disabilities have access to accommodations ie: note takers, extended time for tests, testing in a separate room, etc.
    • Higher Education Opportunity Program HEOP


    Potential Roadlocks:


    • Transit pass
    • Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation ( ACCES-VR)

    Department of Social Services:

    • Maintaining benefits
    • Childcare funding
    • Maintain a positive relationship with case worker


    • Campus housing paid through financial aid 


    • Meal plan

    Please note homework and discussion forum below.  Assignments are to be completed by the end of the week.

    In addition, please find helpful links below. 

  • Week 4-Experiential Credit & International Students

    Many adult students have previous work experience and/or credentials from other countries.  This module is designed to assist a student in acquiring college credit for life/job experience or translating educational documentation from another country.  

    Experiential/Life Credit:

    • Assessment of prior learning
    • One time fee or fee per credit applies
    • Empire State College- An excellent model of credit acceptance.  Students can receive up to 96 credits for prior learning (experiential credit, postsecondary degree, or international degree).  This is determined on a case by case basis.  Please find helpful link below:$file/Student%20Degree%20Planning%20Guide%20-%20Chapter%208.pdf?OpenElement

    CLEP testing


    The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams test mastery of college-level material acquired in a variety of ways — through general academic instructions, significant independent study or extracurricular work. CLEP exam-takers include adults just entering or returning to school, military service members and traditional college students.

    Many colleges grant credit to students who meet their minimum qualifying score. CLEP also offers international and homeschooled students the opportunity to demonstrate their proficiency in subject areas and bypass undergraduate coursework.

    International students

    International Students:

    • World Education Services
    • Each educational institution has their own policy
    • Credential translation (high school, certificate programs, medical, college degree, welding certificate)
    • Translation of documentation

     Document translation can be a lengthy and expensive process. International students with a postsecondary credential who are interested in a U.S. postsecondary degree should begin the process as soon as possible.  

    Changes to Ability to Benefit testing

    • For New ATB* Students Enrolling July 1, 2012 or After: No Longer Able to Use Test Results to Become Eligible for Federal Title IV Financial Aid Resources
    • Beginning July 1, 2012, to be eligible for Title IV financial aid programs, all new, first time enrolling students must have either a high school diploma or a GED certificate (testing results can no longer be used by new students).

    Please note homework and discussion forum below.  Assignments are to be completed by the end of the week In addition, please find helpful links below.


  • Week 5-Success Stories & Wrap-up

    This module highlights some of the success stories our program has had the privilege to be part of.  This module is your opportunity to share best practices...we are all in this together.

    success sign


    Success Stories:


    • Honors student quit school just shy of graduation
    • GED
    • HEOP (Higher Education Opportunity Program)
    • College of St Rose September 2012
    • Multi-Media Marketing Major


    • Began GED courses at 54 years old
    • Graduated in May 2012 with Honors
    • Transferred to The College of St. Rose in September 2012
    • Construction Technology Major
    • “A kid in a candy store.” 



    • Full Federal & State Funding
    • $950.00 additional GI Bill funding per month for 45 months (eligibility 19-26)
    • Pursuing an A.S. in Computer Science at Fulton Montgomery Community College
    • Goal of continuing on to acquire a Bachelor’s degree



    Please note discussion forum below.  Assignment is to be completed by the end of the weekIn addition, please find helpful links below.