With college acceptances in hand, now comes the hard part: understanding your financial aid offers.These letters are notorious for being laden with jargon that differs from offer to offer, making comparison difficult. But you can learn how to interpret award letters to understand the costs and choose an affordable option.WHAT TO EXPECT FROM AID OFFERSFinancial aid offers should include all of the federal, state and school aid you can access. That could mean free aid, such as grants, scholarships and work-study opportunities, that doesn’t need to be repaid, and unsubsidized and subsidized federal loans, which do. If these aid types are grouped together without explanation, they can be hard to distinguish.Your offer also might include a parent PLUS loan as part of the award, but avoid using it if possible. These loans have higher interest rates than loans made directly to students. And unlike typical student loans, only parents can take them on, and they require credit history to qualify.Schools also must provide the cost of attendance, but that’s not the amount you owe. It bundles indirect costs like books, supplies and transportation, with direct costs such as tuition, fees, housing and food.The cost of attendance is usually an average, says Brenda Hicks, director of financial aid at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas. Things like room and board could be pricier if you opt for a more expensive package, like a single room.WHY OFFERS ARE DIFFICULT FOR STUDENTS TO READSchools use different names to refer to the same type of loan.For instance, one college’s aid offer might list a “Federal Unsub Stafford Loan,” and another school’s might say “DL Unsubsidized Loan.” But they’re the same thing.Unsubsidized federal student loans are the only type of federal loan every student can access, regardless of financial need. They’re different from subsidized loans, which don’t accrue interest while the student is in school. Subsidized loans ease costs for students, which is why they’re given to those who demonstrate need.But among 455 college aid award letters, there were 136 different names used to describe the federal unsubsidized loan, according to a 2018 study by New America, a nonpartisan think-tank , and uAspire, a Boston-based college affordability non-profit .“How can we expect families and students to navigate this process if even the aid that everyone qualifies for is called something different?” says Rachel Fishman, deputy director for research with the education policy program at New America.There are two main obstacles for colleges in standardizing offers, according to Fishman: There’s no legal standard for language in award letters, and schools use different software to manage aid.In a push for more consistency, the U.S. Department of Education recently issued guidance on what schools should avoid, such as presenting the cost of attendance without a breakdown. There’s also bipartisan support in Congress to make aid offers more uniform, including two current bills.Some colleges have tried to address the problem, but others continue to use the same format they’ve used for years, says Brendan Williams, director of knowledge at uAspire.The financial aid office at the University of Nebraska Kearney overhauled its award letter last year, including colour coding each aid type and providing an estimated net cost. Net cost is the cost of attendance minus free aid. It represents the amount that borrowers will have to cover.Despite the changes, families still often want a walk-through, says Mary Sommers, the school’s financial aid director. “That’s OK, that’s our job,” she adds.HOW TO COMPARE FINANCIAL AID AWARD OFFERSTo compare financial aid award offers , experts recommend these steps:—Create a spreadsheet with separate columns for each school.—Under each column, start with the total cost of attending each school.—List each award type and amount.—Add all free aid together first and subtract from the total cost to attend.Since you want to take all free aid first, what you have left is the amount you would need to cover with savings, income or loans. Compare this bottom-line amount with other schools on the list.You can also use tools like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Compare Schools tool or the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators’ Award Notification Comparison Worksheet .“Bottom line: I would encourage people to take a long look at that letter, read it all, make sure they understand it and reach out when they don’t,” says Hicks.If it’s unclear how to accept one type of aid or reject another, contact the school’s financial aid office.______________________________________________This article was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Anna Helhoski is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: email@example.com. Twitter @annahelhoski.RELATED LINKS:NerdWallet: How to read a financial aid award letter http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-college-financial-award-letterConsumer Financial Protection Bureau: Compare Schools tool https://www.consumerfinance.gov/paying-for-college/compare-financial-aid-and-college-cost/National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators: Award Notification Comparison Worksheethttps://www.nasfaa.org/award_notification_comparison_worksheetAnna Helhoski Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
Breastfeeding is directly linked to reducing the death toll of children under five, yet only 36 per cent of infants below the age of six months in developing countries are exclusively breastfed, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).“With so much at stake, we need to do more to reach women with a simple, powerful message: Breastfeeding can save your baby’s life,” UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said on the occasion of World Breastfeeding Week, which is celebrated from 1 to 7 August. “No other preventive intervention is more cost effective in reducing the number of children who die before reaching their fifth birthdays,” he stated. Among the benefits of breastfeeding, UNICEF pointed out that the practice could lead to a 13 per cent reduction in deaths of children under five if infants were exclusively breastfed for 6 months and continued to be breastfed up to one year. “Breastfed is best fed, whether the baby is born in Uganda or England, China or Canada,” said Mr. Lake.However, while breastfeeding rates in the developing world are on the rise in two-thirds of countries with data, millions of infants are not benefiting from this life-saving practice. Therefore, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and their partners are using the occasion of World Breastfeeding Week to spur new and creative ways to raise awareness and reach a larger audience with the message of the benefits of breastfeeding.The theme of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week, which is an initiative of the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, is “Talk to Me! Breastfeeding – a 3D Experience.” It emphasizes the importance of communication at various levels and between various sectors to promote breastfeeding.“Communication is key to attain progress,” said Flavia Bustreo, WHO Assistant Director-General for Family, Women’s and Children’s Health. “This year’s theme for the World Breastfeeding Week highlights the opportunity of new communication technologies for making qualified support accessible to health care providers, mothers and families…“Protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding is important because, even though breastfeeding is natural, it is also a learned behaviour,” added Dr. Bustreo. 1 August 2011The United Nations and its partners are promoting the use of all possible means of communication, including social networking, blogs and even flash mobs, to get the message out on the benefits of breastfeeding beyond clinics and delivery rooms to the wider public.
Mr. Lopes joined the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) in mid-August. He had previously assisted in the planning of the police component of the new Mission as a member of the assessment mission led by Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Envoy, Ian Martin, in June. His deployment with UNMIT during this transitional period will facilitate discussions with the Timorese Government on policing matters as well as the smooth implementation of the recommendations on the establishment of the police component including ensuring the restoration and maintenance of public security through the provision of support to the Timorese national police. Mr. Lopes comes to the job from UN Headquarters, where he served as Deputy Police Advisor and Head of Operations Support in the Police Division, which he helped to establish nearly six years ago. In 2000, Mr. Lopes held the post of Deputy Police Commissioner in (UNTAET) following positions as Police Spokesperson and First Special Assistant. In a recent interview, Mr. Lopes said “I’ve been here before and I am acquainted with the reality of Timor-Leste. Our job is to serve and protect the interests of the population of Timor-Leste.” From 1993 to 1995 Mr. Lopes served as a Regional Commander and Chief of Operations in the former Yugoslavia, where he was also co-founder of the project that lead to the Human Rights Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He has been instrumental in conducting assessment missions, coordinating planning and working in support of police operations in Haiti, Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Côte d’Ivoire, Kosovo, Afghanistan and other. “I am pleased to have on board a UN Police Commissioner of the caliber of Antero Lopes, not just because of his high competence level, but because I know that the Timorese people will benefit from his experience in capacity-building and in helping to reconstitute a national police force that will ensure service to the population is a priority,” Special Representative for the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste Sukehiro Hasegawa said.