Frequently Asked Questions
I thought you just gave out scholarships; you used to be Cleveland Scholarship Programs, right?
Most people think that’s all we do because our old name suggested that, so we changed it to College Now Greater Cleveland in 2011 to better reflect the scope and urgency of our work, which includes college access advising; financial aid counseling; and scholarship & retention services.
What exactly does “college access” mean?
College access is the tactical and strategic work that helps students of all ages explore, prepare for, apply to and enroll in college; from advising middle and high school students on a college-bound course load, to helping them complete college entrance exams (ACT/SAT); from helping adult learners figure out how to transfer credits, to helping them find the college that will best accommodate their unique needs to help them reach their goals.
What does “financial aid counseling” entail?
We help traditional students and their parents, as well as adult learners, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA); that notoriously difficult and time-consuming form that is the gatekeeper of nearly every kind of financial aid, not just once, but every year they go to college! We also train other service providers to help them help others complete the form. But financial aid counseling goes even deeper than that. Once the FAFSA is completed each year, we help students leverage their federal grants and loans against other types of financial aid through state, institutional, local and private resources; in fact College Now helps scholarship recipients accrue an average of $70,000 in financial aid over four years of college. We also direct students to and help students apply for scholarships from multiple sources, including those administered by College Now.
Other organizations give scholarships to deserving students. How are yours different?
We manage about 100 scholarship funds – most funds contain dollars College Now has raised to support academically deserving traditional students and adult learners from low-income backgrounds; adult learner scholarships are scarce among others.
The two other distinguishing factors of our scholarships are that they are renewable and that retention services accompany them.
College Now scholarship recipients can, based on performance, renew their scholarships over four years, sometimes more. One-time scholarships are great to get students to college and keep them there for the first year, but renewable scholarships help them go further, by easing their financial burden over time and providing an incentive for academic success!
Our retention services include an innovative online mentoring program for traditional students (reaching 1,100 this year!) and outreach and referral services to our adult learners to help them overcome socio-economic obstacles that prohibit them from graduation.
Other organizations provide mentoring. How is your program different?
We have a captive audience! Our traditional-age scholarship recipients agree to participate as a condition of their College Now scholarship award. It’s almost all online! It’s easy and convenient for mentees and mentors to communicate. Mentees and mentors are paired using algorithm science, a very successful method. There has been tremendous community interest; more than 1,100 professionals volunteer their time as College Now mentors! More than 250 local businesses use the program (that can provide service metrics) in their community and volunteerism efforts. Want to learn more or become a mentor? Call (216) 241-5587.
How do College Now’s students compare to their peers?
Our students enroll in college at about the same rate as the national average; this is a remarkable accomplishment given the socio-economic challenges that most of our students face.
Our scholarship recipients attend over 100 institutions, and have a 97% first-year college retention rate (thanks to the support of the Mentoring Program), compared to 53% nationally for low-income students, and our students are four times as likely to graduate from college (65% on average) as other low-income college students (8% nationwide) and exceed the average on-time graduation rate for all students of 59%.
Is college really worth the cost?
YES! It is critical that students find their “best fit” postsecondary option. Without the best financial, academic and cultural fit, students are less likely to persist to graduation.
The average cost to earn a 4-year degree is $22,795/year. Given that 4-year degree holders earn at least $1 million more during their lifetime, the return on investment is at least $908,820!
Can College Now help me manage my student loans?
Student loan debt has risen nationally to over $1 trillion. Of the Ohioans earning degrees in 2013, 68% carry student loan debt, with the average borrower owing $29,000. Students that have defaulted on student loans are unable to apply for financial aid which makes going back to school nearly impossible.
College Now provides loan rehabilitation counseling on repayment and consolidation options for students in default, often removing them from default status. In addition, College Now provides loan consolidation, loan restructuring and loan forgiveness counseling for individuals with loans in good standing.
Why should any of this matter to me?
Education is unarguably the single most permanently empowering tool for long-term self-sustenance.
Education provides intangible transformative knowledge-affecting thought, perception, ideals, attitudes and behaviors that lead to a broader appreciation and understanding of culture and self. On a tangible level, postsecondary educational attainment scales with employment and earnings, affecting entire communities.
Increasing the college attainment rate by just 1% would boost our region’s economy by $2.8 billion annually. (More and better-paying jobs!) An individual’s lifetime earnings with a bachelor’s degree are nearly $1 million more than that person’s lifetime earnings with a high school diploma. (Stronger tax base!) Higher educational attainment rates correlate to lower rates of unemployment. (More innovation!) The poverty rate for high school graduates is three times higher than that of Bachelor’s degree-holders. (More college graduates, fewer tax dollars needed!) Cleveland’s college attainment rate for working-age adults is just 14.3%. There aren’t enough skilled workers to fill our local economy’s growing needs – right now in Greater Cleveland, 75% of open jobs require at least some college, and 42% require a degree. (Where will that leave us in the long term?)
How is College Now funded?
College Now has a diverse base of support: 37% Endowment; 24% Corporations; 24% Government; 6% Fee for Service; 4 % Endowment; 3% Individuals; 2% Special Events. College Now efficiently expends its resources; for every dollar raised, $.90 provides direct service and just $.10 supports administration and fundraising. We employ 80 staff and leverage the time and talent of over 1,100 active volunteers. For more information about supporting College Now, click here.
Can College Now help me or someone I know with degree-attainment goals?
Absolutely! We will be happy to hear from you! Call us at 216.241.5587.
Which schools does College Now work in? Will College Now work in my school?
College Now provides onsite college access advising to students at around 80 schools in Cuyahoga, Lorain, Medina and Summit County, including all Cleveland Metropolitan School District high schools and inner-ring, suburban and parochial high schools. Click here for the list of schools we serve. If you don’t see your school but would like to, please call 216.241.5587!