News + announcements

FOX-31 Morning News: college student aid

The following video is from KDVR-TV

October 25, 2021

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Chevy Lowe, director of The College Place Colorado, was interviewed by the FOX affiliate in Denver about the importance of FAFSA completion and how The College Place can help students.

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Now is the time to apply for free college aid

The following video is from KDVR-TV Online

October 19, 2021

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It’s more important than ever to file the FAFSA. With family incomes potentially having been impacted by the pandemic, the 2021 FAFSA will be the first application to reflect any changes from the past year’s tax returns. Having income accurately reflected is essential because it may impact a student’s eligibility for need-based aid.

Chevy Lowe, Director of ECMC’s The College Place Colorado says now is the time to apply for all the free financial aid that is out there and available to all college students. Last year, the lowest-ever percentage of students completed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), resulting in them not unlocking the gateway to millions of dollars in federal student aid.

The FAFSA recently opened for the 2021-2022 school year, and with it, there are changes and information students need to be aware of as they determine how they will pay for their postsecondary education.

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ECMC focused on student success at PERSIST workshop on campus

Press Release

October 6, 2021

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Employees gathered in the Great Room of building A gaining access to tools for student success provided by ECMC. Presenters Brenda McCafferty and Tom Bailey lead faculty and staff through activities on student schedules, graduation rates, outreach, and financial education.

ECMC has provided Mesalands Community College, as a Hispanic Serving Institution, with the ability to determine a student’s proclivity to a certain career field. Students are able to test on interests to narrow their field of interest. Upon graduation students will also be able to find job openings, and complete financial education to provide resources for paying back financial loans successfully. They also provided emergency funding opportunities and financing a food pantry for students in need.

Faculty and staff spent time sharing in ideas to ensure student success from diverse backgrounds and situations. Mesalands Community College has made student success and access a priority while using resources, such that ECMC provides, efficiently. This workshop was a great opportunity to share ideas and tools for the benefit of the students at Mesalands Community College.

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Going back to school on a budget: 5 ways nontraditional students can cut costs

The following article is from Yahoo! Finance

August 13, 2021

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Back-to-school momentum is in the air, with big-box stores drumming up sales on educational essentials. But it’s not just tots and teens prepping for a return to the classroom, adults who have been out of the game for a while or who are embarking on a college education for the first time are also gearing up for the school year.

Discover: Explore the Cost of Education in the United States
Read: Can You Afford Education in America at These Prices?

How can these nontraditional students financially prepare for this new page in their lives? What can they do to budget for schooling expenses and cut back on costs?

Consider Community College
If you’ve not yet made your decision about what school to attend, there’s a strong argument to be made for nontraditional students to go to community college. You can always transfer to a university later — but save heaps of money along the way.

“Students may not realize that most of the first two years of college consists of general education requirements,” said Tomika Brown, student success director for ECMC, a nonprofit that provides free guidance and resources to help students get to and through college. “Community college is a great low-cost way to tackle those general education requirements while keeping costs down since the cost per credit is typically significantly lower at a community college than a four-year university. Just make sure the credits earned will transfer to the college of choice in order to reap the greatest savings.”

Put the Skills You Already Have To (Paid) Work
Fortunately, many adult students already have the upper hand because they’re older and wiser than those fresh out of high school. In short, they already have some experience in earning income and ideally, some honed skills that can put them one step ahead of the rest.

“Nontraditional students often bring real-world experience to the table,” said Andrew Pentis, a certified student loan counselor and student debt/higher-ed expert with Student Loan Hero. “So the top tip is for these students to leverage any skills they might be able to offer their new school.

“A technology whiz, for example, might apply for an IT job at the school they want to attend, particularly if that school offers tuition discounts to employees,” Pentis continued. “That’s one strategy for nontraditional students to cut down their cost of attendance and make room in their budget.”

Live Like a Student
You may be starting your higher education at a relatively advanced age, but you should still live like a traditional student does, meaning you should use the same money-saving hacks that all college students use.

“If you’re a nontraditional student returning to campus, you might be surprised to find that the cost of attending college has only continued to rise,” Pentis said. “As a result, cutting back where you can is a great way to help afford your tuition alongside living expenses.”

Here’s a look at a few things you can do to curb your educational spending, courtesy of Pentis:

  • Rent textbooks instead of buying them.
  • Cook instead of relying on expensive on-campus meal plans.
  • Consider halting your past life expenditures, such as new clothing or electronics, unless they’re necessary for your schooling.

Keep Boosting Your Earnings
You may have to take a break from making money (or at least, making as much money) when you go back to school, so it’s smart to have a solid nest egg built up.
“Saving up or increasing your income before switching to college life is a good idea, if possible, because it will give you some breathing room in your budget as you adjust to college life,” Pentis said. “That will allow you to feel financially ready for school so that you can focus on school, not stress over money.”

If you can continue to work while in college, that is, of course, ideal.

You Can Still Apply For Scholarships and Aid
“Age is not a factor when it comes to qualifying for federal financial aid, so all students should submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), regardless of how long they’ve been out of school,” said Rebecca Safier, certified student loan counselor and higher education expert at Student Loan Hero. “The FAFSA can unlock the door to federal grants, work-study and low-rate student loans. Plus, it may put you in the running for state grants or school scholarships.”

Work Part Time If Possible To Curb Student Loan Debt
While student loans can also be a useful tool, Safier advises incoming students to be careful not to spend too much loan money on unnecessary expenses.

“If you can cover living costs with income from work-study or a part-time job, you might be happier in the long run, since you’ll assume less debt and pay less interest overall,” Safier said.

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ECMC’s The College Place–Minnesota welcomes new director

College access center provides free resources to help Minnesota students plan for college

August 11, 2021

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MINNEAPOLIS—Tara Pribnow has been named director of ECMC’s The College Place (TCP) Minnesota. ECMC, an affiliate of Minneapolis-based ECMC Group, operates TCPs around the country. TCP-Minnesota provides free college planning resources for students and families throughout the state in support of ECMC’s nonprofit mission focused on helping students succeed.

ECMC’s TCP-Minnesota provides virtual, in-person, telephone and online support at no cost to students of all ages looking for assistance with college applications and financial aid forms, and also offers help locating scholarships and other resources that can lower the cost of postsecondary education. Staff are also available to visit schools and conduct workshops.

“Tara’s expertise about the college-going process will prove extremely valuable to students and families looking to navigate the often confusing and intricate application and financial aid process,” said Paula Craw, vice president of outreach for ECMC, “Her passion for postsecondary education will enable her to continue our legacy of positively impacting underserved students in the community.”

TCP-Minnesota is located at Urban Ventures, The Hub, 3028 4th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55408. To set up an appointment or to schedule a presentation, call 651-271-5478 or email minnesotatcp@ecmc.

ECMC operates seven college access centers throughout the country with additional locations in Colorado, Connecticut, Northern California, Oregon and Virginia.

About ECMC Group

ECMC Group is a nonprofit corporation focused on helping students succeed by creating, providing and investing in innovative educational opportunities. Headquartered in Minneapolis, ECMC Group and its family of companies are focused on advancing educational opportunities through financial tools and services; nonprofit career education and workforce training; and innovative, impactful and mission-aligned funding for programs to help students achieve their academic and professional goals and to address the future of work. To learn more, visit

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