College Affordability and Accessibility: A Pathway to Opportunity

by | Sep 8, 2020 | Uncategorized

As we head into September, we continue to sit in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic. But in the midst of this current chaos, we push ahead to safeguard the college dreams of Inversant families.

As an organization, we’re thinking beyond the pandemic and into a new era. While it’s too early to know the long-term implications of COVID-19, we see the opportunity for change.

Within it, we’re reimagining how we:

  • Support our families through this crisis and beyond
  • Improve our program delivery model to meet the need where parents are at including digital channels
  • Make certain our personalized service, facilitation, and support is never lost in the no-touch world
  • Continue to work towards making college affordable and accessible by creating a pathway to opportunity

In today’s update, I share how we’re accomplishing that and so much more with your help and support.

PROGRAM UPDATES

Cash for College

With college students heading back to class, we know Inversant families would face more financial strain. Between unexpected costs and costs not covered by their financial package, we sought to meet those needs.

That’s why we’re thrilled to announce the 2020 Inversant Cash for College Fund. The fund is a need and risk-based scholarship for eligible students who are Massachusetts residents.

We determined need and risk as important eligibility requirements based on findings from our sister organization, Hildreth Institute.

  • Need-based: After all grants and scholarships are applied, many students still have an unmet need. This is often covered by working excessively or borrowing more money.
  • Risk-based: Characteristics known to potentially increase students’ risk of dropping out. With only half of the 2 million college students leaving with a college degree, the US has the highest college dropout rate in the industrial world.

This fund is a flat grant of up to $2500 that will go to 10 eligible students. Decisions will happen between September 14th and October 23rd with applications reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis.

If you know someone who might meet eligibility guidelines, refer them to the 2020 Inversant Cash for College Fund application. Applications are open to anyone in Massachusetts who meets eligibility. Help us spread the word!

FAFSA

Do you know how much students pay for college each year? In the latest report from Sallie Mae, American families paid an average of $30,017 in 2019-20. That’s $3,500 more than the previous year.

Imagine how that multiplies when you have to attend college for four years? That’s why it’s critical we help Inversant families make financial plans with an update to our FAFSA workshop.

We’re incorporating the essence of the highly-rated pre-pandemic Program Delivery Model. It’s everything our families love baked into our new and improved FAFSA workshop.

However, we do know that the transition to digital-only is impossible. Many families still lack access to technology making it necessary that we meet everyone where they’re at.

We’ll do this in a variety of ways:

  • Live webinars
  • Continuous learning modules
  • Templates and worksheets to encourage active engagement
  • Reinforcement through personalized 1:1 connections

We look forward to helping families:

  • Learn how to differentiate between loans, gift aid, and work-study so they can make a clear financial plan
  • Identify the types of financial aid available to them: FAFSA, CSS, Scholarships, and Private loans
  • Understand FAFSA, how to complete, submit, and maximize their benefits

Plus, our new Program Delivery Model will allow us to serve more people at a greater scale. In the coming weeks, we’ll share how you can help us spread the word.

Be on the lookout for our newest FAFSA program, coming soon!

ADVANCEMENT UPDATES

Chairman’s Challenge

Inversant families didn’t ask to lose their jobs. They also didn’t ask for illness, school closures, or sweeping change in their daily lives.

But COVID-19 had other plans.

There’s no doubt about it, the pandemic has had a devastating impact. Sure, it’s affected all of us. But for low to-moderate-income families, the effect has been excruciating.

Not only has it magnified the disparities already plaguing at-risk families, but it exposed the inequalities.

Racial and socioeconomic opportunity gaps that already existed have widened. And the gaps have only increased as the pandemic has held on.

This has left Inversant families exposed to crushing unexpected costs and an unclear future. That’s why Inversant Founder and Board Chair, Bob Hildreth knew he had to act fast.

“The longer the pandemic drags on, the farther the opportunity gap expands. There’s a chance we have a high-risk group that’s forever left behind.”

Robert Hildreth

He’s committed $50,000 to the Inversant Alumni Assistance Fund. Now he’s challenging you to join him in support!

Will you accept the challenge and commit to helping Inversant families? Making a monthly donation of $50 today ensures we provide the emergency relief they need.

Inversant Insights

Last week, Dr. Charles Desmond, Inversant CEO continued his 5-part series, Inversant Insights.

The series explores the challenges in higher education today. Each episode uncovers the long-held tradition within systems that marginalize entire communities.

On Tuesday’s show, the topic centered around the article written by 3 of the guests, “Is College Still Worth It? The New Calculus of Falling Return.”

Dr. Desmond welcomed experts from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis’ Center for Household Financial Stability:

  • William R. Emmons, Ph.D., Lead Economist, Center for Household Financial Stability and AVP
  • Ana Hernández Kent, Ph.D., Policy Analyst, Center for Household Financial Stability
  • Lowell R. Ricketts, Lead Analyst, Center for Household Financial Stability

Listen in and watch the replay as they discuss race, ethnicity, and prevailing structures in higher education.

Unconventional Wisdom: Parity, Equity, and Higher Education

Higher education is often seen as a way to close the racial wealth gap. But it's not as simple as it sounds.Chipping away at the startling gaps in racial equity will take more than a degree. To solve the problem, we must fix the system.Join Dr. Charles Desmond, Inversant CEO, and his stellar expert lineup. From the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis' Center for Household Financial Stability (Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis), we welcome:- William R. Emmons, Ph.D.- Ana Hernández Kent, Ph.D.- Lowell R. Ricketts Together, they'll explore race, ethnicity, and prevailing structures in higher education. Join us LIVE (right here) on September 1st at 12:30 pm ET.

Posted by Inversant on Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Student Loan Bill of Rights

Long before COVID-19, we heard stories of struggle from our Inversant families. One of the leading sources was student loan debt and it’s a stranglehold on finances.

But with the pandemic and increased financial instability, the heavy burden got exacerbated. It left many families wondering where to turn and what their rights as borrowers were.

With the leadership of sister organization Hildreth Institute, we’re tackling this issue. Together, we’ve joined 50 organizations in support of the Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights.

A Borrower’s Bill of Rights in Massachusetts will:

  • Codify basic consumer protections for student borrowers
  • Prevent student loan servicers from defrauding and abusing borrowers
  • Provide recourse when fraud, malpractice, and abuse occurs
  • Create a Student Loan Ombudsman that will function as a one-stop-shop for students and their families to get information
  • Give borrowers an in-state advocate that they can contact with complaints or questions
  • Help students and borrowers navigate the repayment process in a way that allows them to pay down debt more sustainably

Learn more about it and the impact it will have on Massachusetts student borrowers.

Governance Structure Update

Earlier this year, we began transitioning Inversant from a:

  • Founder-led and funded organization to…
  • An independent, community-supported, and community-engaged organization

To support this transition, we established new working committees to handle the review of current structures and make recommendations about existing:

  • Board members (determine what types of skills to look for in potential new board members)
  • Board of Directors (soliciting prospects for board vacancies)
  • Committees, task forces, and governance operations procedures

Besides helping us compose a well-rounded, skilled board, the committees make recommendations on compliance as well.

They’re currently conducting annual evaluations and taking the lead in our transition from founder to community funded.

YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT

To ensure Inversant families’ college dreams remain intact, we need your help. And every time we’ve asked, you’ve been ready to assist.

Through the pandemic, we’re heartened by the outpouring of gifts and grants. We are forever grateful to you – our supporters.

Please take a moment to make a monthly donation to the Chairman’s Challenge. Your help can relieve the worry over unexpected costs caused by the pandemic. Click here and donate now!

Thank you for being a part of our Inversant family for the last 10 years! We wouldn’t be here without you.

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