Secondary School Counselors
Knowledge of Financial Aid Topics
A large majority of secondary 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|
|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|
|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|
|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.