From “Moraine Park recognizes Ballweg’s efforts to gain additional financial aid” — Moraine Park Technical College recently recognized Wisconsin State Representative Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan) for her leadership efforts to secure an additional $2 million in financial aid funds for the Wisconsin Technical College System.

The funds will come from the Wisconsin Higher Education Grants (WHEG) programs and will be available to students during the 2013-15 school years. The additional funds allocated will help to compensate for the shortfall that left over 50,000 eligible students without financial aid.

“This is a great start, but we have a lot more to do to ensure that financial aid is available to eligible students,” Ballweg said. “I urge others to continue to stress the importance of financial aid and help others realize this is a smart investment.”

During the presentation, Richard Zimman, Moraine Park Technical College District Board chairperson, said that in the next decade 54 percent of Wisconsin’s jobs will require a technical education. “Wisconsin’s technical colleges are an essential asset for our state’s future,” Zimman said. “Moraine Park commends Representative Ballweg for her leadership in preparing our state for the future.”

Moraine Park Technical College was established in 1912 and is one of 16 technical college districts that make up the Wisconsin Technical College System. With campuses in Beaver Dam, Fond du Lac and West Bend, Moraine Park offers more than 100 associate of applied science degrees, technical diplomas, apprenticeships and certificates delivered in a variety of formats – classroom, online and blended.


From “Back to School 2013: Local families try to keep college costs down” — Some families in our area say how they’ll be able to pay for college is a major factor in where their children attend school. But are some people being priced out of a higher education?

President Obama announced major college financial aid changes last week.

He says it’s to stop middle class families from being “priced out” of an education.

Some families in our area say how they’ll be able to pay for college is a major factor in where they attend school.

Like many, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College student Anna Sieving says she’s struggled paying for college.

“I started at UW-Milwaukee originally, and when finances got tight back in 2008, I ended up stopping my attendance there,” she said.

And cost was a major factor for Sieving to go back to school.

“I was looking at UWGB versus NWTC. It was half the price basically,” said Sieving.

“We’re a little more affordable than some other college options. We’re about $130 a credit,” said Mark Franks, director of financial aid for NWTC.

NWTC says many students eventually transfer to four-year UW schools after two years.

On UW-Green Bay’s campus, prospective student Kelly Vanderloop says living at home in Kaukauna might be an option to keep costs down.

“I do have a job, and I have been saving as much as I can. And I will have to get financial aid because there’s no way my parents can pay for it, and I don’t want to be really, really badly in debt,” said Vanderloop.

Nationwide, the U.S. Department of Education says 57 percent of students receive financial aid.

Here in Northeast Wisconsin, that number is much higher.

At UW-Green Bay, 70 percent of students receive some kind of financial aid.

At NWTC, it’s 80 percent.

At St. Norbert, 98 percent of students receive financial aid.

There, the average student pays $40 thousand a year for tuition, room and board and fees.

The average financial aid award at St. Norbert is $26 thousand a year.

But the remaining $14 thousand that a student would be left to cover nearly equals the cost of attending a UW school and staying on campus.

St. Norbert College has one of the highest tuition costs for higher education in our area. So we asked families touring campus whether they feel they’re being priced out of an education.

“I don’t know if being priced out is a big issue, but going to a good school is always a big factor,” said Nate Stolte, a prospective student from New Berlin.

“I think that is the case for some students if they don’t have the support systems whether they be family or school or guidance, letting them know the resources available,” said his mom, Tracey.

Across town at NWTC, some students have a different view.

“Most definitely. I think a lot of students won’t be able to attend college because the college costs are going up, and it’s not like the wages are going up,” said Sieving.

We spoke to the experts, to find out what kind of help is available.

“I think if families prepare for it, they can certainly keep that cost down and keep that loan cost down,” said Sue Steeno, a financial aid counselor at UWGB.

Steeno says all students should fill out a FAFSA form, or a free application for student aid.

That will determine the eligibility for Pell Grants, scholarships and student loans.

“Pell Grants are the biggest federal grants. It goes to the neediest of the neediest students,” said Jeff Zahn, St. Norbert College financial aid counselor.

Zahn says 23 percent of students there receive Pell Grants.

But more higher-income families have been applying for scholarships.

“Even someone who earns 100 thousand dollars a year, if you’re looking at a cost of something of 40 thousand dollars a year, that’s a big commitment from them, right?” said Zahn.

And before they commit to a college, parents and students say they must calculate those costs, versus the eventual rewards of a higher education.

From “Nicolet College hosts ‘Return to Learning’ event” — On Thursday night, Nicolet College held “Returning to Learning” an event designed to give adults and others returning to school after being out of school for any period of time all the information they need in order to enroll at Nicolet.

“It’s a great event because they can come to one place and talk to everybody. They can talk to someone about financial aid, career assessment and find out about all the other services we have going on here,” said Nancy Burns, placement specialist and career coach at Nicolet.

This is the fourth “Returning to Learning” event Nicolet College has held since beginning the program two years ago. Nicolet holds the event in the spring and in the fall.

“We try to tailor the event for people who are coming back to school after being out of school for a while,” said Sandy Kinney, executive director of communications and college and community initiatives. “All of the research and studies on people going back is that adult returning learners have different learning concerns than people coming out of high school, so we wanted to do an event that would address what their concerns are and what their needs are.”

Where similar events for high school students are highly structured with presentations and tours, “Returning to Learning” is a drop-in event designed to accommodate the busy schedules of those looking to go back to school.

“Adults are busy. They’re squeezing this in between things, and they need to be able to just come in, get the answers to the questions they need, skip the things they don’t need, and be able to leave again,” said Kinney. “So we set it up in this open time format so people could drop in at the end of the day, after work or after dinner, whatever works for them.”

Kinney said visitors to the event have usually put a lot of thought into going back to school, but they need more answers and information before deciding to enroll. Additionally, the event is a steppingstone for potential students. It begins a dialogue between students and the college, allowing the Nicolet staff to guide the individual through the admission and enrollment process, answering any questions along the way.

“We see people that are serious about coming back to school,” said Kinney. “Research will show that adults typically will take two to three years from the time they start thinking about going back to school to when they actually do it. So we see people at different stages in that process. Some that are just kind of playing with the idea, wondering, ‘What do you have at Nicolet, I know I’m not moving somewhere to go to school…so what do you have?’ and we have that, all the way to people who walk in the door and say, ‘I know exactly what I want. I want to enroll in this program, and can I start this summer?’ So there’s a whole range.”

A variety of Nicolet staff members, including deans, instructors, career coaches and academic advisors, as well as faculty members to help with financial aid and admission questions, were on hand to meet the needs of any individual who stopped in.

Several academic advisors were available to answer questions about coursework, credits and transfer options. The advisors also were able to tell students if they qualified to receive credits for prior learning or work experiences.

Tom Raykovich, a transitions counselor at Nicolet, was available to help answer any enrollment questions potential students might have. Raykovich, who runs the assessment center at Nicolet, said he helps students prepare for placement testing in order to make sure they enroll in classes that match their abilities.

“We take students no matter where their skills are, and we get them where they need to be,” said Raykovich.

This differs from the UW System, where a certain ACT score is usually required for enrollment consideration.

“We test, but just to find out where the skills are, and then we figure out where to place them. It’s an open-door policy,” said Raykovich.

Financial Aid Director Jill Price answered questions students had about financial aid, and gave them advice on how they could pay for college.

“Most of our students, without financial aid, wouldn’t be able to afford college,” she said.”We talk about the options they have and give them information.”

Price stressed to potential students the importance of filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, which allows students to be eligible for federal grants and loans. She said students often think they won’t qualify for FAFSA loans and grants, but she always tells them that, “They won’t know until they try.”

Kinney said many of the community members who attend this event eventually attend Nicolet .

“What we do see is that out of people who come to this event, a very high percentage end up enrolling,” she said.

Dean of Trade and Industry Brigitte Parsons said the event is about helping potential students find the answers to all of their questions about college enrollment.

“This is a place where they can come and explore, ask questions, find out, ‘How much money will I make if I major in welding or if I major in nursing?’ or ‘How quickly can I transfer to a university?’ so there’s a lot of questions we can answer on a night like this,” she said.

From “Financial aid event helps families plan for college” — WAUSAU – Applying for financial aid can be a challenging task. That’s why organizers hold the “College Goal Wisconsin” event across the state to help people navigate online forms.

One of the free sessions was held at North Central Technical College Saturday.

Tom and Tammy Kirsch of Edgar are sending their first child, Tyler, to college in the fall.

“He’s a good student, gets good grades,” said Tom Kirsch.

They’re hoping to get some financial aid to help pay for his education.

“We have been planning since they were quite small but unfortunately, the pot has not grown as much as we would have liked it to grow,” Kirsch said.

At NTC, volunteers helped people learn more about the Free Application for Student Aid, also known as the FAFSA and complete the online form.

“Financial aid includes the low interest rate student loans, grants, college work study and then scholarships based on financial need,” said “College Goal Wisconsin” chair Sharon Hunter.

She added that filling out the online form correctly is crucial.

“So they can find out what their expected contribution is toward college so they can find out if college is really affordable or not,” she said.

Although the form has gotten easier to navigate in recent years, organizers said many people who are filling it out for the first time have questions.

Hunter said the process requires, “very basic information about the student and parent and then income information which comes right off your tax return.”

The Kirsch’s told Newsline 9 the free event helped them feel more confident about the process.

“Any financial aid, scholarship money will help tremendously,” said Tom Kirsch.

The U.S. Department of Education provides more than $150 billion dollars each year to help students pay for higher education.

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