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January Edition of Your Bottom Line Now Available

Oklahoma Money Matters presents the January edition of Your Bottom Line, a monthly newsletter produced with personal finance organizations, educators and consumers in mind.

Read the current edition.

Learn More: OKcollegestart.org Updates to Professional Center

OKcollegestart.org recently launched several improvements and added new features to the Professional Center! When you log in, you’ll see a sleek, new, responsive design that makes the Professional Center even easier to use and you’ll discover three new features we think you’ll love: the Communication Log, a customizable Limited Professional account type, and survey creation tools. Watch the video below to learn more about these useful updates.

Still shot of video Title Screen reading Professional Center New Features.

For additional information about the Professional Center or its new features, please contact Theresa Shaklee, Student Portal Coordinator at tshaklee@ocap.org or 405.234.4383.

Oklahoma College Access Conference

Group of people collaborating over a chalk table reading College Access.The Oklahoma College Assistance Program (OCAP) invites you to attend the 2019 Oklahoma College Access Conference. This event will take place on February 6, 2019 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Oklahoma City Community College.

This conference is free to attend and will deliver important information and best practices to help you guide your students to reach their post-secondary goals. Participants can expect to connect with other professionals and hear from a panel of recruiters to learn about admission practices at various Oklahoma campuses. Other topics will include:

Register now. 
For questions, please contact us at UCanGo2@ocap.org.

Upcoming OKcollegestart.org Workshops

OK College Start logo. Click, compare, choose.The Oklahoma College Assistance Program's (OCAP) outreach team is offering OKcollegestart.org training workshops this spring, and there are still seats remaining for the workshops on Feb. 7 in McAlester  and on Feb. 12 in Enid.

These free workshops will focus entirely on using OKcollegestart.org to implement Individual Career Academic Plans (ICAPs) in your school. Join us to receive hands-on support as you select ICAP activities, customize and assign an ICAP to your students, track student progress and identify how to use activity outcomes in advising. Participants will also learn about new OKcollegestart.org features including a redesigned Professional Center and customizable surveys. The workshop agenda may be found on the OKcollegestart.org Educator’s Resources page.

Choose the date and location below that work best for you and click the date to register.

Thursday, February 7, 2019
9:00 am - 12:00 pm

Tuesday, February 12, 2019
9:00 am - 12:00 pm

For additional information, please contact Theresa Shaklee, Student Portal Coordinator at tshaklee@ocap.org or 405.234.4383.

Updates to OKcollegestart.org’s Professional Center

Screenshots of redesigned Pro Center login page and menu.OKcollegestart.org is excited to announce the latest improvements and features to the Professional Center! When you log in, you’ll not only see a sleek, new, responsive design that makes the Professional Center even easier to use, but you’ll also discover three new features we think you’ll love: the Communication Log, a customizable Limited Professional account type and survey creation tools.

Screenshot of Communication Log

Communication Log

This new feature makes it easier for counselors and educators to track communications with their students. Professionals can use the Communication Log to create and maintain a chronological journal of interactions and communications with students, parents, and guardians.

New Professional Center Account Type

There is a new type of Professional Center account – a limited professional account. Educators with a limited professional account can only see, review, comment and report on the student portfolios assigned to them. In addition, a limited professional can only communicate with their assigned students. Administrators can create a limited professional account using the tools in the Administration tab.

Screenshot of a survey.

Custom Survey Tools

Educators can now create custom surveys to assign to students to complete. Educators with administrative rights in the Professional Center can define and store multiple custom surveys and manage the local list of available surveys. Surveys can be assigned as an Individual Career Academic Plan (ICAP) activity.

For additional information about the Professional Center or its new features, please contact Theresa Shaklee, Student Portal Coordinator at tshaklee@ocap.org or 405.234.4383.

UCanGo2’s College Planning, FAFSA Completion Outreach

With the fall semester in full-swing and the Oct. 1 release of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the outreach team at the Oklahoma College Assistance Program (OCAP) has been in schools and the community in full force. Its two largest objectives in the fall are promoting college preparedness and completion of the FAFSA. OCAP’s outreach team has already mailed over 1,000 college prep and FAFSA kits to counselors and presented over 80 college preparedness and FAFSA presentations around the state so far this fall.

College Preparedness

UCanGo2.org logo.The fall semester has always been the busiest time for UCanGo2, OCAP’s college access initiative. Through UCanGo2, OCAP’s outreach team helps counselors, teachers and administrators create a college-going culture in schools by offering on-site presentations and providing a full range of college planning resources. This includes information about academic requirements and finding the right institutional fit, career exploration tools, financial aid educational materials, scholarship guidance and much more.

In addition to presentations for students and their families, UCanGo2 also provides customized train-the-trainer sessions for educators and administrators, and UCanGo2’s College Planning Toolkit empowers counselors to help students reach their higher education goals. “Counselors and educators have a very full schedule,” said Kelli Kelnar, OCAP’s outreach manager. “Through resources and training, we try to make it as simple as possible for them to help their students prepare for education beyond high school.”

FAFSA Completion

StartWithFAFSA,org logo.The new 2019-20 FAFSA became available Oct. 1, but OCAP’s FAFSA awareness campaign began in August. Families are encouraged to complete the application as early as possible, while federal and state funding is available. FAFSA results are also sometimes required for state and other scholarship applications, so timely completion serves multiple purposes.

“Our presentations are designed to show students and families that the FAFSA can be completed easily,” said Kelnar, “and everyone planning to attend college or a career technology center should apply. Most people who complete the FAFSA are offered some kind of aid.” These grassroots efforts are also supported by a targeted digital media campaign designed to raise FAFSA awareness among Oklahoma students and families.

This year, the outreach team’s FAFSA promotional efforts also include the National College Access Network (NCAN) FAFSA Completion Challenge, for which OCAP received a $40,000 grant to provide FAFSA completion programs and services to Oklahoma City Public Schools. NCAN’s project focuses on areas with current FAFSA completion rates below the national average and challenges grant recipients to increase their city’s FAFSA completion rates by at least 5 percent.

UCanGo2 is a comprehensive college access outreach initiative of the Oklahoma College Assistance Program, an operating division of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. For additional information, like UCanGo2 on Facebook and join OCAP’s mailing lists at ocap.org/News/subscribe.shtml to receive the most important college planning and FAFSA updates. To learn more about the FAFSA, visit StartWithFAFSA.org.

OCAP’s Counselor Connect Workshops

Oklahoma Counselor Connect logo.The Oklahoma College Assistance Program (OCAP) provided four Oklahoma Counselor Connect workshops this fall, highlighting college planning services offered through the State Regents. These workshops, offered in Oklahoma City, Ardmore and Tulsa, are a new service provided by OCAP’s outreach team, taking the place of the recently discontinued National Training for Counselors and Mentors (NT4CM) workshop program.

At each workshop, OCAP’s outreach team presented new information and highlights of the 2019-20 FAFSA and the helpful resources provided through StartWithFAFSA.org, the UCanGo2.org college planning website, instructional materials provided in the FSA Financial Aid Toolkit, and updates on the new features of OKcollegestart.org, including college admission applications at the click of a button and Individual Career Academic Plan (ICAP) instruction and templates for Oklahoma schools. The guidelines for Oklahoma’s Promise were covered in detail and the Oklahoma Money Matters team offered a presentation about the financial education resources they provide to schools and families across the state. Information about the new Oklahoma FAFSA Data Portal (OK-FDP) was also presented, including how counselors can enroll and begin tracking their 2019 seniors’ FAFSA progress.

Oklahoma Counselor Connect workshops will continue to contribute to OCAP’s ongoing mission to provide schools and community partners the support required to empower students and families to reach their educational goals. “We knew when NT4CM was discontinued that we needed to continue providing training that supports efforts to educate students and parents as they prepare for higher education,” said Kelli Kelnar, OCAP outreach manager. “That’s why we developed Oklahoma Counselor Connect. We originally scheduled three workshops this year, but demand was so high that we added a fourth to accommodate more counselors and mentors.” Through these workshops, OCAP offers informational sessions for Oklahoma’s high school and middle school counselors, financial aid administrators, Native American program specialists and various community partners.

OCAP, an operating division of the State Regents, provides college access, aid awareness, financial literacy and student loan management programs and services that benefit students, parents, schools and community partners. OCAP offers numerous FAFSA resources for educators and students through StartWithFAFSA.org, UCanGo2.org and OKcollegestart.org. To learn more about OCAP, visit OCAP.org.

College Application Week 2018

College App Week logo, 2018 September 17 through 21Oklahoma College Application Week (CAW) 2018, an opportunity for high school seniors to receive hands-on assistance from knowledgeable volunteers while completing their applications to college, has been going strong. So far, 92 GEAR UP and non-GEAR up schools and organizations in Oklahoma have registered for CAW 2018. Those who are already registered represent over 9,000 high school seniors in our state.

“While these events are designed to help all students,” said Oklahoma College Assistance Program (OCAP) outreach specialist and Oklahoma College Access Network (OKCAN) member Letha Huddleston, “they’re especially beneficial for those who’ve never considered going to college or will be the first in their family to attend.”

Ninety-one Oklahoma high schools participated in CAW 2017, with 6,281 students completing applications to 284 different colleges in 41 states and six countries. “In the exit surveys that we have received so far this year,” said Huddleston, “every event coordinator has indicated that they will hold a College Application Week again next year. They all see this as an important event.”

Oklahoma GEAR UP piloted CAW in its 24 school districts in 2012 and 2013. In 2014, all high schools across the state were invited to participate. In 2015, OCAP and OK-CAN joined GEAR UP in promoting CAW, which officially took place the week of Sept. 17-21 this year, though school events can be held as late as the end of November. GEAR UP and OCAP offer free promotional materials and have used webinars and conference calls to introduce CAW to event coordinators and walk them through the program materials and resources.

College Application Week is part of a national initiative sponsored by The Kresge Foundation, the Lumina Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the American Council on Education. At the state level, the project is endorsed by Chancellor Glen D. Johnson of the State Regents, the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the Oklahoma State Chamber.

New Video: Tips to Avoid Identity Theft

Oklahoma Money Matters, the financial education initiative of the Oklahoma College Assistance Program (OCAP), strives to help people take control of their money and make positive financial choices. Identity theft is a growing issue and it can take a lot of time and effort to repair the damage. It’s important to take special precautions to protect your personal information, so we created Tips to Avoid Identity Theft, a short video that explains how to guard your information from would-be thieves and what to do if you suspect your identity has already been stolen.

The video is available on OCAP’s YouTube Channel and on the Videos page at OklahomaMoneyMatters.org. Feel free to share this video or link to it from your website.

Tips to Avoid Identity Theft video thumbnail.

The FAFSA is Here!

The 2019–20 FAFSA is here! Here are a few tips you can share with your students.

This year students can access the FAFSA by visiting FAFSA.gov  or by using the NEW myStudentAid mobile app. The FAFSA should be completed as soon as possible after Oct. 1 to ensure priority consideration for some types of financial aid. It’s best to gather all necessary materials before starting the FAFSA. Since the 2019–20 FAFSA allows applicants to use 2017 tax information, families can use their 2017 return to complete the application right away! There's no need to wait.

To complete and submit the FAFSA online, students and one of their parents/guardians will each need to create an FSA ID (Federal Student Aid ID) at FSAID.ed.gov . This username/password serves as an electronic signature on the FAFSA and certain student loan applications, and allows them to access other federal student aid websites. It’s beneficial for families to create their FSA IDs before starting the FAFSA to speed up the application process. Visit UCanGo2.org to download an FSA ID Worksheet (in English and Spanish) to keep track of your information.

For more information and FAFSA resources, including educational tools and tutorial videos in English and Spanish, visit StartWithFAFSA.org.

OCAP Awarded FAFSA Completion Challenge Grant

The Oklahoma College Assistance Program (OCAP) is one of 25 organizations selected to receive a 2018-19 FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) Completion Challenge Grant of up to $40,000 from the National College Access Network (NCAN). Through this project, which focuses on areas with current FAFSA completion rates below the national average, NCAN challenges each of the grant recipients to increase their city’s FAFSA completion rates by at least 5 percent for the graduating high school class of 2019.

The 2016-17 FAFSA Completion Challenge demonstrated that cities could achieve significant progress in just one school year by working collaboratively across sectors to give students the FAFSA completion support they need, enabling students to tap into huge amounts of government resources that often go unclaimed. Across the board, the cities of participating organizations logged an average increase of 4.43 percentage points, helping to reverse a four-year decline in nationwide FAFSA completions. Completion of the FAFSA helps predict a student’s success in higher education. Ninety percent of high school seniors who complete the FAFSA attend college directly after high school, compared to just 55 percent of FAFSA non-completers.

“We were very honored to be chosen as one of the 2018-19 FAFSA Completion Challenge Grant recipients,” said OCAP’s Outreach Manager Kelli Kelnar. “Our Outreach team is currently putting together a comprehensive plan of action to work with Oklahoma City Public Schools’ students and parents to share the benefits of obtaining a college education, along with providing assistance and resources to help these students complete the FAFSA and successfully reach their future goals.”

OCAP, an operating division of the State Regents, provides college access, aid awareness, financial literacy and student loan management programs and services that benefit students, parents, schools and community partners. OCAP offers numerous FAFSA resources for educators and students through StartWithFAFSA.org, UCanGo2.org and OKcollegestart.org. To learn more about OCAP, visit OCAP.org.

Understanding Your Credit Score: a lesson plan for adult learners

Thumbnail of Understanding Your Credit Score lesson plan and corresponding guide.Oklahoma Money Matters (OKMM), the financial literacy initiative of the Oklahoma College Assistance Program and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, is proud to announce the newest addition to our financial education library, Understanding Your Credit Score, a lesson plan for adult learners. 

Understanding Your Credit Score was carefully crafted with the economically vulnerable learner in mind and is divided into five sections to allow for more flexible utilization. Each section concludes with an application exercise and bonus material that complements the lesson. Participants will explore the factors that make up a credit score, learn how to access and review their credit reports, discover strategies for reducing debt, and learn the importance of making wise financial decisions that can help them reach their financial goals.

Both the Understanding Your Credit Score lesson plan and its corresponding Your Money Matters: Your Money, Your Way guide can be downloaded for FREE of charge from the resources page of OKMM’s website.

OKMM also offers free workshops that highlight practical ways for adults to manage their money, even if they’ve reached a financial crisis point. Workshops are customizable and include topics such as:

If you would like to schedule a workshop, request materials, or learn how OKMM can help you incorporate personal finance education within your existing service structure, please email OklahomaMoneyMatters@ocap.org or contact us at 405.234.4415 or 800.970.OKMM (toll-free).

OCAP Names New Executive Director

OCAP Executive Director Melissa NealWe're pleased to share with you that Melissa Neal, who has worked for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education for more than 12 years, was named executive director for the Oklahoma College Assistance Program (OCAP) effective July 2. In this role, Neal provides strategic leadership for the agency and oversees all operational, fiduciary, regulatory and educational functions. Neal’s selection follows the recent retirement of Mary Heid, who served as executive director of OCAP since 2014.

In her prior role as Educational Services Manager, Neal led the State Regents’ and OCAP’s financial literacy initiative, Oklahoma Money Matters, and OCAP’s financial aid training programs, and cultivated an extensive network of campus and community partnerships to strengthen student, parent and service provider access to personal finance, borrower education and student loan management information, tools and expertise. Neal has strong relationships within Oklahoma higher education and the financial education and workforce development communities, serving on the Oklahoma Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, including more than two years as board president; Oklahoma Council for Economic Education; National Council of Higher Education Resources College Access and Success workgroup; Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City Economic Education Advisory Committee and a variety of other industry committees and advisory councils.

We look forward to Neal's leadership as executive director and to continued collaboration with our campus, community and industry partners as a provider of college access, aid awareness, financial literacy and student loan management programs and services.

Neal may be reached at (405) 234-4253 or mneal@ocap.org.

OKcollegestart.org Spring Workshops

OKcollegestart.org, the State Regents’ student portal for college planning, hosted five training workshops this spring to instruct educators on ways to use the student portal and electronic transcript exchange system. High school counselors, whether new or experienced, were encouraged to attend. These workshops were held at the State Regents’ office and on the campuses of University Center of Southern Oklahoma in Ardmore, Oklahoma State University — Tulsa and Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Enid.

Site features explored included:

“OKcollegestart is designed to assist educators as they prepare students to be college and career ready,” said Theresa Shaklee, Student Portal Coordinator for OKcollegestart.org. “We’re pleased to be part of the support system for not only counselors, teachers and administrators, but also for the students and families they serve.” OKcollegestart.org provides free resources to help students and parents plan, apply and pay for education and training beyond high school. All user registrations come with a free email address that can be used to communicate with counselors and colleges. The dynamic Professional Center, a website for Oklahoma schools to use in conjunction with OKcollegestart.org, allows counselors to send transcripts from high school to high school and from high school to college, follow student activities on OKcollegestart.org and customize academic plans for individual students.

Ready Set Repay Offers New Videos

Ready Set Repay, the default prevention initiative of the Oklahoma College Assistance Program (OCAP), strives to help student loan borrowers make smart borrowing decisions and successfully repay their student loans. We receive a lot of questions about paying for school and repaying student loans, so we've developed and updated videos answering some of our most frequently asked questions:

These short videos outline specific steps to address these common issues. The videos are available on OCAP’s YouTube Channel and on the Videos page at ReadySetRepay.org. Feel free to share these videos or link to them from your website.

External link icon icon indicates a link to an external website.

:: Our Website Network ::

OK-CAN     UCanGo2.org

ReadySetRepay.org           OklahomaMoneyMatters.org

OKcollegestart.org      StartWithFAFSA.org