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SU's Copeland-Morgan to participate in Capitol Hill panel, MTV College Affordability Challenge

January 14, 2011

Daeya Malboeuf
(315) 443-2007

On Jan. 19, Syracuse University’s Youlonda Copeland-Morgan will travel to Capitol Hill as part of a panel to review key findings from the College Board report “Cracking the Student Aid Code.” The day’s events will also include the announcement of finalists for the Get Schooled College Affordability Challenge.

youlonda“Cracking the Student Aid Code: Parent and Student Perspectives on Paying for College” is a report based on extensive focus-group and survey research with parents and students of low- and moderate-income backgrounds, and explores their attitudes and experiences with the student financial aid process and paying for college. It also highlights the barriers that students and parents face and the changes they believe are necessary to improve the financial aid process and increase college enrollment.

In her dual capacities as the University’s associate vice president for enrollment management and the College Board’s immediate past chairman of the Board of Trustees, Copeland-Morgan joins legislators and staff, students, parents, advocacy organizations and other leaders to discuss the report findings and policy implications. She’ll also attend an in-depth Senate policy discussion with members of the HELP Committee (Health, Education, Labor and Pension) involving a select group of key Senate and House education staff and policy leaders later in the day. The HELP Committee plans to focus on policy recommendations—including increased college access and retention for low-income students—that will help the United States recapture world leader status in adult degree attainment.

Copeland-Morgan has also been tapped to appear as one of eight judges on MTV’s upcoming “Get Schooled College Affordability Challenge.” The Get Schooled Challenge encouraged prospective and current college students to create “an innovative digital tool that helps more low- and middle-income students connect with money for school.’’ Underwritten by MTV and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the winning individual or team will receive $10,000, as well as a $100,000 budget to bring the idea to fruition. The three student finalists in the challenge will be announced on Jan. 19 as part of the events on Capitol Hill.

“I am honored to be participating in this important effort to simplify and improve the financial aid process for students across the nation,” says Copeland-Morgan. “The MTV and College Board partnership is a powerful example of the kind of creativity and thinking needed to improve the college going and graduation rates in this country.”

Copeland-Morgan was chosen to participate in both initiatives because of her longstanding commitment to improving access to higher education, and the subsequent retention of talented students. She recently oversaw the launch of “I Otto Know This!,” a multi-faceted program that included SU’s buyout of high-cost private loans, as well as ongoing financial literacy seminars and debt management counseling. Recognizing that early notification of financial aid is a key to access, she also developed a pre-Thanksgiving award letter that alerts students to how much financial aid they will receive. These enhancements have significantly improved the recruitment and retention efforts at SU.

“The Cracking the Student Aid Code study and the College Affordability Challenge bring the voices of students front and center in the call for a more student-centered, predictable and simpler federal financial aid system,” says Gaston Caperton, College Board president. “We are grateful to Youlonda Copeland-Morgan for her participation in this effort and commitment to removing one of the greatest barriers to college success.”

The air date/time of the MTV Get Schooled College Affordability Challenge will be announced in the near future.

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