In this issue:
General News    |    Featured Tool    |    College Planning    |    Who's Who    |    Financial Aid
Scholarships & Other Aid Opportunities    |    Financial Literacy    |    Student Loan Management    |    Calendar

General News

Register Today for OCAP's Annual Conference

Conference Logo

Promoting student success in Oklahoma is a broad mission that covers many topics and disciplines. That's why OCAP is bringing the experts to you at this year's annual conference: 10.11.12—Counting on a Bright Future. Conference registration (external class) is now open, and there's no charge to join us!

OCAP's Annual Conference will be held Thursday, Oct. 11 at Moore-Norman Technology Center South Penn Campus. This year, OCAP is partnering with GEAR UP to bring the best information available to teachers, counselors and practitioners in a single forum. GEAR UP and OCAP have complementary college access goals, and joining forces allows us to help you make the most of your time spent at the conference.

We're thrilled to welcome Greg Darnieder, senior adviser to the secretary for College Access Initiatives at the U.S. Department of Education, as our luncheon keynote speaker. He'll speak about the college access efforts made on the national level and how they complement Oklahoma's efforts. Additionally, whether you're a high school counselor, a GEAR UP site adviser, a college recruiter, a financial aid officer, or a financial literacy educator, we're planning multiple sessions with you in mind, including:

Students enrolled prior to July 1 are not affected by this change.

Space is limited, so register today (external class) to reserve your spot!

We're also offering events before and after the conference to give you plenty of opportunities to share ideas and discover effective ways to reach students.

Pre-Conference Event: Financial Literacy Train-the-Trainer Workshop

Our pre-conference event will be a free, financial literacy train-the-trainer workshop for our campus and community partners hosted by Oklahoma Money Matters (OKMM) on Wednesday, Oct. 10. This workshop will focus on financial education for economically disadvantaged families. If you're an educator, program administrator or service provider, we invite you to explore a targeted approach for teaching personal finance concepts to adults who have access to fewer financial resources. Space is limited, so keep watching our website (external class) for registration information.

Post-Conference Event: OK-CAN (Oklahoma College Access Network) Workshop

OCAP and GEAR UP are also offering a special half-day event Friday, Oct. 12 dedicated to college access. If you're an Oklahoma College Access Network (OK-CAN) member, Friday's event is all about you. If you're not an OK-CAN member, join us to learn about the benefits of becoming a member. The event is free and features a network of education and business professionals who promote and support college access throughout Oklahoma. With over 150 members representing more than 90 organizations within OK-CAN, this event is sure to have a wide variety of learning opportunities.

Two presenters from the National College Access Network (NCAN) will talk about the current issues facing students and families as well as future plans on how to reach underserved, underrepresented and underprepared populations in regards to college access. This event will be a great place to network with your colleagues and interact with experts in this important field. Registration will be posted separately from the OCAP conference, so keep an eye on our website (external class) in the coming weeks.

Ask the Expert: What's Complete College America?

Oklahoma is one of 29 states accepted to participate in Complete College America (CCA), a federal initiative designed to help more Americans achieve their dream of a college education. Oklahoma was chosen because of our commitment to significantly increase the number of students who successfully complete college and to close educational attainment gaps for traditionally underserved populations.

CCA is the most comprehensive and ambitious higher education project ever undertaken by the state of Oklahoma. The goal is to increase the number of degrees and certificates earned in Oklahoma by 1,700 per year for 12 years, resulting in a 67 percent increase by 2023. This benchmark must be met to meet the projected need of more than 300,000 additional college-educated workers to keep Oklahoma competitive in a global economy.

For more information about CCA and related resources, visit the State Regents' website (external class). Also, don't miss your chance to learn more about CCA at the OCAP conference (external class) on October 11.

September is College Savings Month

Did you know that September is recognized by Congress as College Savings Month? Now that summer is over and Oklahoma students are one step closer to attending college, it's a great time for families to start thinking about their college savings plan.

We know that education beyond high school is important for many good reasons, and we also recognize that it's an investment. That's why it's important to start saving as soon as possible to reduce or eliminate the amount of money students may need to borrow later. Saving even small amounts can make a big difference over time in paying higher education expenses. The earlier families begin saving, the greater impact interest earned can make on the account balance. Whether the students you serve are in first or 12th grade, now is the time for families to begin saving for college.

To help maximize education savings, we encourage families to consider investing in a state-sponsored 529 college savings plan. Each state has different plan regulations; however, one of the key benefits to a 529 plan is that as long as the money is used for qualified higher education expenses, the owner doesn't have to pay taxes on the account's earnings. Oklahoma's 529 College Savings Plan offers several other advantages, including:

To learn more about Oklahoma's 529 College Savings Plan or to enroll, call 877.654.7284 (toll-free) or visit (external class).

Top Five Ways College Compares to the State Fair

Classes are back in session and, compared to the summer solitude, your campus is probably looking a lot like the midway at the Oklahoma State Fair right about now. The similarities don't end there. We've come up with the top five ways college compares to the state fair; would the students you serve agree?Fair

5.   Long-distance parking offers a great opportunity for extra exercise. Once you do find a place to park, it will be about 1.5 miles away and in the grass. Also, the journey will seem exponentially longer because you'll either be carrying a book-filled backpack or a four-foot-tall pink teddy bear.

4.   The fair (and college) is a veritable smorgasbord. The selection of dining options – and for many, the resulting "freshman 15" - is no joke. Neither is a deep-fried Oreo with a side of funnel cake. It may help to tell yourself that ramen noodles count as a grain, corn dogs count as a vegetable AND a protein, and the previously mentioned parking problem counts as cardio.

3.   Livestock shows are not entirely dissimilar from college dormitories. Both offer seemingly endless crowds, constant noise, and a variety of interesting smells. And, whether you're at a livestock show at the fair or hanging out in the dorms, be sure to watch where you step!

2.   When it comes to college and the fair, you want to have a plan. It's important to budget ahead of time. Otherwise, you may end up borrowing too much in student loans or paying $65 to "win" that pink teddy bear. Having a plan allows you to enjoy your time while minimizing regrets later.

1.   There's something for everyone. Whether you like hotrods, quantum physics, quilting or Latin - both college and the fair offer opportunities to find your niche!

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Featured Tool

Middle and High School Counselor Kits

HS Kits MS Kits

With the new school year in full swing, we're excited to announce that UCanGo2 will be mailing new college planning toolkits to counselors in September. The kits feature loads of valuable information, printable worksheets, games and flyers. Each also includes copies of UCanGo2's Student Workbook and Instructor's Guide and a supplemental CD.

Counselors and teachers are the agents of change in Oklahoma's schools, empowering families who never thought college was an option. UCanGo2's kit materials are designed to support those efforts to educate students and parents as they prepare academically and financially for higher education, including information about the right classes to take in high school, ACT/SAT preparation, career exploration, degree program options, college selection, and financial aid. The resources in these kits were developed with educators' specific needs in mind. Whether the kit recipient has two hours or five minutes to dedicate to educating families about life after high school, there's something inside the kit to make the learning process easier and more effective.

UCanGo2's Middle and High School Counselor Kits can be ordered through our website at (external class). If you need additional information or assistance, call OCAP's outreach team at 405.234.4239 or 866.443.7420 (toll free), email us at or visit (external class).

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Who's Who

Do You Know Greg Darnieder?

Greg DarniederMeet Greg Darnieder, senior adviser to the secretary for College Access Initiatives at the U.S. Department of Education (ED).

You seem to have a passion for working with the youth of America. Tell us about the career path that led to your current role with ED.

In high school, I volunteered for an urban day camp program in St. Louis and was exposed to true urban poverty; that experience changed my life's direction. The country was in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement in 1965 when I went to St. Louis. The racial tensions that I had seen on television were new to me, as I had not experienced them in Oshkosh. I was stirred by President Kennedy's challenge to serve our country when he stated that we need to "…ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." In college, I got involved with the American Freedom from Hunger Foundation, a youth-led national organization dedicated to making a difference in issues facing people in Third World countries and in the poorest regions of the United States. I began my career in St. Louis as a middle school teacher in the early 70's after graduating from St. Louis University.

After teaching for a few years, I found myself in graduate school outside of Chicago and began attending LaSalle St. Church, which defined itself as a 'bridge church,' literally resting between Chicago's Gold Coast and the Cabrini Green Public Housing Development. The church had a number of ministries serving the Cabrini community, and I was fortunate to be selected to lead a youth ministry. We turned the Community Youth Creative Learning Experience (CYCLE) from a tutoring program into a youth development and college/career access program. After 14 years there, I had the opportunity to lead the Steans Family Foundation, which used its philanthropic dollars to do place-based philanthropy in the North Lawndale of Chicago. We had the privilege of partnering with the community in the construction of child care centers, affordable housing, a charter high school and organizational development investments. Arne Duncan and I met when I worked in Cabrini, and after he became CEO of Chicago Public Schools (CPS), he asked me to lead the Department of Postsecondary Education (DPE), a newly formed initiative that focused CPS and community resources on increasing the number of CPS students going on to college. When Arne was asked by the President to lead ED, I joined him to support ED's college access and completion work.

What do you think are the most important college access messages for counselors?

It's critical that counselors collect data as they perform their responsibilities. This was a huge focus in Chicago, as I felt that it was the most powerful way to demonstrate the impact of their work to administrators. It had to be data that was important to the CPS Board, Arne, and central office administrators in areas such as attendance, graduation rates and other key data points that were substantiated by the best educational research around.

Fortunately, CPS had a relationship with the Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR). CCSR became a critical support element to DPE that created other research-grounded insights and metrics such as keeping freshmen on track, the importance of the transition from eighth to ninth grade, FAFSA completion, non-cognitive skill development, and academic rigor standards. This data became critical around budget time and led us to be able to protect every position dedicated to this work – over 125 positions. The results have thus far been outstanding, with a 47 percent increase in the number of students from the Class of 2011 going on to college as compared to the Class of 2004.

What are the top challenges you've observed across the nation when it comes to reaching current K-12 students and families who need college access information?

It's really important that we set up systems to reach every student and their parents with accurate information on career and college options and the financial impacts of various choices. We need to embed such information within our educational systems at the earliest ages and with the greatest amount of transparency possible. Such transparency and the use of data as a performance management tool are high priorities to the President and the Secretary. All too often, tools and information that are readily available don't get fully utilized, because they aren't incorporated into curriculums and other opportunities. School districts must continue to strengthen their relationships with higher education institutions along with their civic, business and faith-based communities. The collective impact theory of change, which has emerged over the past couple of years, is being embraced by numerous communities around the country. It's represented in ED's funding strategies such as Promise Neighborhoods, and we eagerly look forward to seeing the impact of such work in the coming years.

Learn more about Greg Darnieder's expertise and experiences at OCAP's upcoming annual conference, Oct. 11 (external class). More information about our conference is available in this newsletter and on OCAP's website (external class).

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College Planning

College Planning Checklists

HS KitsAs the new school year kicks off, students will begin to think about their future. They may be wondering what comes next, what they want to do in life after high school or if they can afford to attend college. UCanGo2 is here to help you answer all of those questions and more. HS Kits

UCanGo2's college-planning checklists are available to help sixth graders through seniors prepare for higher education, including developing great study habits, signing up for Oklahoma's Promise, taking the right classes, filling out the FAFSA and much more.

Checklists can be downloaded at no charge at (external class). Free classroom copies may also be available (quantities are limited); to request a classroom set, call 405.234.4239 or 866.443.7420 or email

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Financial Aid

Taxes: Prep Now or Fret Later

Did you know that completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) early in the year can affect how much financial aid your students receive for college? We recommend submitting the FAFSA as soon as possible after Jan. 1 of the senior year or high school, and every year thereafter. Preparing and organizing their tax documentation early can help students and parents tremendously when it's time to apply for federal financial aid. Some state aid programs require a completed FAFSA, too.

Organizing tax documentation now is a wise choice for several reasons. Not only can it help families receive more financial aid, it could help prevent a tax filing meltdown. You know the type… frantically tearing through the house looking for receipts, claim forms and other documents at 11 p.m. the night before the tax-filing deadline. Encourage the families you serve to get organized now to ensure they have the correct documentation on hand when it's time to file.

Parents and students can start by thinking back over what occurred during the last year and making a list of major life changes that could qualify them for some tax relief. These changes might include marriage, divorce, having children, starting a home business, switching jobs, moving for a new job, buying a house, going to college, etc. All of these changes have the potential to affect tax liability, but the filer must have the appropriate documentation in order to qualify for any resulting tax breaks. It's always best to organize this documentation as changes occur – that way, there's no scrambling later.

Below are some common documents families may be able to gather now to help simplify the planning process for filing taxes – and completing the FAFSA - early next year.

For families planning to file a FAFSA next year, collecting and organizing the supplemental paperwork this fall will make the application process a little bit easier in January. With the prep work done, students and parents can file taxes quickly after receiving W-2s or 1099Cs. The sooner the families you serve file, the sooner they can finalize the FAFSA and qualify for federal (and some state!) financial aid.

What's New on IFAP?

Dear Colleague Letters (DCLs)



Gainful Employment Electronic Announcements (GEEA)

Common Manual Update

The latest version of the Integrated Common Manual is available on the Common Manual website. (external class)   As always, if you have questions about the manual, contact our Policy, Compliance and Training department at 405.234.4432, 800.247.0420 (toll free) or

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Scholarships and Other Aid Opportunities

Graduation CapThe Oklahoma Hall of Fame Scholarship is awarded to one Oklahoma high school senior by the Oklahoma Heritage Association and Gaylord-Pickens Museum. The $5,000 scholarship, which is disbursed to the winning student over four years, is based on the student's leadership roles, civic/community involvement, academic achievement, and knowledge and pride of our great state. Students must commit to attend an Oklahoma college or university to be considered, and students must be nominated for this scholarship by teachers, administrators, or any other adult who isn't related to the student.

The deadline for the 2012 Hall of Fame Scholarship is Friday, Sept. 21. For more information, visit (external class).

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Financial Literacy

The Payday Loan Trap

Payday cash advance loans provide easy, quick alternatives for those who don't qualify to receive traditional loans through a financial institution and those who don't have an external monetary support system such as savings accounts, family and friends, or investments. Businesses providing these unsecured loans provide immediate money for borrowers in need of quick access to cash.

While such loans can provide short-term relief for borrowers, the long-term effects can be devastating. Many of these types of loans place users in a seemingly never-ending cycle that forces the borrower to roll previous loans into new loans while a majority of the costs rest in interest rates as high as 391 percent per loan.

According to a recent national survey (external class) conducted by the Pew Center, around 12 million Americans use payday loans each year. Oklahoma ranked highest in payday loan consumer usage in the nation at 13 percent, with neighboring states Missouri at 11 percent, Kansas and Texas each at 8 percent, and Colorado at 7 percent. The national average is 5.5 percent. The research project also noted that:

How can the people you serve avoid falling into the trap of payday loans? Oklahoma Money Matters (OKMM), OCAP's financial literacy initiative, offers the following tips.

For more information from the Pew Center for the States' "Who Borrows, Where They Borrow, and Why" report, visit the Center's Payday Lending in America webpage (external class).

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Student Loan Management

The Importance of Reporting Enrollment

One of the key elements in preventing student loan default is the timely and accurate reporting of campus student enrollment. Institutions have been required to regularly report their students' enrollment status since the passage of the Higher Education Act of 1965. Since 1996, this reporting has been completed through the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). Institutions report students in one of several categories: F (full-time), H (halftime), L (less than half-time), A (leave of absence), G (graduated), or W (withdrawn).

When enrollment reporting isn't timely and accurate, students aren't able to fully utilize their six-month grace period. According to the U.S. Department of Education (ED), most defaulted borrowers did not receive their full six month grace period due to late or inaccurate enrollment reporting by the school. Timely enrollment reporting ensures that students receive the appropriate notifications and correspondence from their servicer, and gives the servicer an opportunity to develop a relationship with the borrower. Servicers can then assist students in choosing an appropriate repayment plan; familiarizing themselves with self-service options, such as Web-based repayment; and updating contact information. This early contact is essential to help borrowers prepare for successful loan repayment.

OCAP recommends that institutions adhere to a timely reporting schedule. It's imperative that the financial aid office be notified when a student withdraws from the institution mid-term; to facilitate that information sharing, financial aid staff need to know who is responsible for reporting enrollment and how the institution reports that enrollment (directly through NSLDS, through the National Student Clearinghouse, etc.). Financial aid officers should also perform regular "spot checks" on NSLDS to ensure that the enrollment reporting process is happening correctly.

If you have questions or would like to discuss strategies for strengthening your campus enrollment reporting process, contact Scott DeBoard at 405-234-4233 or


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People News


OCAP's recent business model change has resulted in the redistribution of some key responsibilities. Angela Caddell provides executive leadership for OCAP's college access and outreach function, a role previously shared with Rick Edington, OCAP's Executive Director. Her title is Director for Communications, Financial Education and Outreach Services. Mary Heid has assumed executive leadership of OCAP's default prevention function; her title is Director for Default Prevention, Compliance and Training Services. Congratulations, Angela and Mary!

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