Apr 22, 2016

NGPF Podcast: Tim Talks To Lauren Asher, Student Loan and Financial Aid Expert and Advocate


It’s college decision time for high school seniors and the NGPF podcast show was lucky to have Lauren Asher join us recently to discuss the financial issues that go into this decision.  At the helm of The Institute for College Access and Success (aka TICAS), Lauren advocates for a simpler, fairer, more transparent financial aid process to ensure broader access to educational opportunity.

TICAS’s research on the issues of college affordability, student debt and financial aid shows their deep knowledge on these issues which has proven effective at creating change through the regulatory and legislative process. If you have ever read an article about average student debt in this country, the source was likely from TICAS’s Project on Student Debt. Their recent efforts have led to FAFSA simplification, broadened eligibility for income-based student loan repayment plans and changed the timing of FAFSA information to improve visibility for families in the financial aid they can expect.

Listen to this podcast to hear Lauren weigh in on:

  • What are the largest misconceptions when it comes to student debt?
  • How should students and their families compare financial aid award letters?
  • What concepts are most important to teach students about how to pay for college?
  • What are the characteristics of those struggling with debt?


  • 0:00~0:50 – Intro
  • 0:50~1:40 – Lauren’s role at TICAS
  • 1:40~2:55 – Current trends in financial aid
  • 2:55~4:18 – Characteristics of borrowers who struggle with debt
  • 4:18~6:43 – What is the right amount of student debt?
  • 6:43~7:28 – What are the federal student loan limits?
  • 7:28~8:28 – Misconceptions of student debt
  • 8:28~9:30 – Characteristics of schools with a high sticker prices
  • 9:30~11:58 – Federal student loan counseling
  • 11:58~14:54 – Federal loan repayment options
  • 14:55~18:25 – Is student loan situation a crisis or not?
  • 18:25~19:15 – Fixing the higher ed financing mess
  • 19:15~22:01 – States investing in college students
  • 22:01~28:14 -What does path from Community College to 4-year college look like?
  • 28:14~28:36 – A word from our sponsor, Next Gen Personal Finance
  • 28:36~30:58 – Interpreting financial aid award letters
  • 30:58~33:20 – Hopes for more consistent financial aid award letters?
  • 33:20~34:08 – How to compare award letters
  • 34:08~39:09 – How colleges can help students be more aware of their loan obligations
  • 39:09~41:03 – Key concepts to teach students about Paying for College
  • 41:03~42:58 – Resources needed to run a FAFSA workshop
  • 42:58~44:47 – Longer term goals for TICAS
  • 44:47~45:50 – Conclusion
Notable Quotes:
  • “Just as how colleges package financial aid, there are variations among states but overall the trend has been that states are covering less and less of what is costs to provide a college education and students and families through tuition are paying more and more.”
  • “We looked at all of the UCs and compared the net price for the lowest income students to the net price for the other types of public colleges in the country, including community colleges. It’s striking but community colleges didn’t have the lowest net price, often it was cheaper to go to a four year college.”

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

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