TG updates Web pages with recent HEA legislation and tax benefit information
The 110th Congress is in full swing, and senators and representatives have already introduced many higher education-related bills. To reflect Congress's recent shift in focus from developing an all-encompassing reauthorization bill to developing smaller bills that concentrate on specific topics, we have changed the name of our Reauthorization Web page to Higher Education Act Legislation. You can view the page at www.tgslc.org/hea/index.cfm. As always, legislation of particular interest is highlighted in the "What's New?" section and the Web page still includes links to legislative activity of the 109th Congress, including the Higher Education Reconciliation Act of 2005 (HERA).
We've also recently updated our Tax Benefits of Paying for College Web page to include changes in eligibility criteria and benefit amounts for the 2006 tax year. You can view changes at www.tgslc.org/borrowers/tax/index.cfm. Also please note that H.R. 6111, the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006, reinstated through 2007 the income tax deduction for qualified tuition and related expenses, retroactive to tax years beginning after December 31, 2005. Due to the last-minute nature of this extension, the IRS has provided special instructions for claiming this credit; please see www.tgslc.org/borrowers/tax/index.cfm#tuition for more information.
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Spotlight on TG's Public Benefit Grant Program: Underwood Stryker Institute at Kalamazoo College
Laying the foundation for a successful college career starts as early as middle school, if not sooner. Tutoring offers one way to supplement the basic skills that students develop in subjects like math. The one-on-one relationship between tutor and student can bolster a student's math performance and offer an incentive to do even better.
The Underwood Stryker Institute for Service-Learning at Kalamazoo College recognizes the value of a good math tutoring, or "enrichment," program. The institute, which was established in 2001, organizes ongoing service-learning courses, Work-Study, and volunteer opportunities for Kalamazoo's students. More than 600 students — over half the college's total enrollment — work through the institute, taking classes and serving in the community of Kalamazoo.
The institute has designed a unique math tutoring program called "Keeping the Doors Open," geared to students from the Kalamazoo Public School system, especially minority students. The program stresses hands-on learning for middle and high school students. It also offers students from Kalamazoo College experience in leadership development.
For FY 2007, TG awarded the Underwood Stryker Institute at Kalamazoo College a grant to support its math enrichment program. To learn more about the "Keeping the Doors Open" program, Shoptalk Online talked with Alison Geist, director of Underwood Stryker Institute.
Q.: Describe the math enrichment program.
A.: This after-school program, which is held on our campus, offers math tutoring to middle and high school students from Kalamazoo Public Schools. The program helps these students improve their math skills and thereby increases the likelihood that they will go to college. Fifty students, most from minority groups traditionally underrepresented in math and science, participate in the program, receiving tutoring services twice weekly. These seventh, eighth, and ninth graders were chosen by their teachers because they show promise in math but may need additional support to reach their full potential.
We have trained over 15 Kalamazoo College students as tutors and mentors, and many bring considerable tutoring experience to the program. Kalamazoo College and the Kalamazoo Public School system collaborated on the curriculum for the program, which uses math to illuminate and understand social issues, such as credit card debt, inequality, and health disparities. The program helps students brush up on their test-taking skills. It also provides plenty of opportunity for students to work collaboratively with each other.
Q.: How does the program benefit middle and high school students?
A.: The program aims to "keep the doors open" for college not only by improving these students' skills in algebra — the "gatekeeper" to advanced placement — but also by building peer networks across and between schools in the district. The program helps students to recognize their math aptitude and thereby become invested in improving these skills. It also engages families in a student's education. And because students come to Kalamazoo College, they learn to feel at home on a college campus.
Research shows that family involvement is critical to academic success. That's one reason why the project employs a family liaison to assure communication and connection between home and school. This individual meets with the families of students, and, when needed, helps them navigate the public school system.
Q.: Are there other benefits to the program?
A.: We believe that higher education should be available to everyone, and that our colleges and universities are richer and more vibrant when they are diverse. In a democracy, and especially in a world of growing complexity, people need to be able to collaborate to solve public problems in ways that use multiple perspectives, assets, and skills.
"Keeping the Doors Open" simultaneously serves the Kalamazoo community, the broad ideals of higher education, and students at Kalamazoo College who have the opportunity to engage in this important work, both as tutors and as citizens working for the common good.
TG's award process
To receive funds, all awarded institutions, including the Underwood Stryker Institute of Kalamazoo College, were required to submit proposals that addressed the issue of access to postsecondary education. More specifically, awards went to institutions with programs and services that focused on the needs of first-generation college students, students from high schools with low college-going rates, and/or students who are underrepresented in higher education.
To learn more
If you'd like to learn more about TG's Public Benefit Grant Program, you'll find a description of its purpose and process on TG Online at www.tgslc.org/publicbenefit/.
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Training Watch: Join TG at these Spring conferences
Spring is one of the busiest conference seasons for the financial aid industry. TG will be a strong presence at a variety of conferences, including events held in Missouri, New Mexico, Illinois, and Oklahoma. To sample what TG representatives will be offering, read through the following short session descriptions. If you attend any of these workshops, you're sure to gain insight in the financial aid field or learn something to help you in your career. A complete listing of conferences which TG will be attending can be found online at www.tgslc.org/abouttg/calendar.cfm.
A partial list of TG's upcoming conference trainings
Missouri Association of Student Financial Aid Personnel (MASFAP) Spring Conference, Lake Ozark, Missouri, March 7 - 9
- Adding Leadership Skills to Your Management Toolkit: Learn to clarify the distinction between management and leadership. Working with other participants, you'll identify the characteristics of great leaders. You'll also brainstorm ways to improve leadership styles, especially within the context of a financial aid office.
- Professional Image: In this workshop, you'll learn why appearance is important to your business reputation, and why it pays to possess exceptional business and social skills. Learn how to communicate effectively and intelligently. Discover why body language is critical to how you are perceived. Participants in this workshop will practice techniques for projecting an image of confidence and professionalism by dressing for business success, being positive and proactive, and maintaining a respectful and cooperative attitude with coworkers.
New Mexico Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NMASFAA) Annual Spring Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico, March 14 - 16
- What Do You Say?™: In customer service, the first few seconds of the interaction, even your first few words, often determine your success or failure. This entertaining program answers the question "What Do You Say?" when faced with those awkward and difficult customer service moments. Session participants will learn words and phrases to handle tough customers with ease and confidence. Topics cover a variety of customer service situations, including how to respond when your customer is disappointed, when your customer won't let you help, when you can't say yes, and when your customer feels wronged.
Illinois Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (ILASFAA) Annual Conference, Schaumburg, Illinois, March 18 - 20
- The Leadership Secrets of Santa Claus™: In this workshop, attendees consider Santa as a model of a great leader, with particular focus on the way he builds a high performance team, attracts and retains the best and brightest, sets goals and performance measurements, deals with change, and solves "people problems."
Oklahoma Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (OASFAA) Spring Conference, Tulsa, Oklahoma, April 11 - 13
- How Full Is Your Bucket?: Research shows that negative emotions can be harmful to your health and might even shorten your life span. This workshop, based on the New York Times bestseller book by Donald O. Clifton, Ph. D. and Tom Rath, considers strategies for increasing positive emotions. In particular, it offers ways to positively fill your emotional "bank account" and those of your coworkers.
To learn more
Would you like to learn more about the many training opportunities TG offers through its Speakers Bureau? Visit www.tgslc.org/speakers/index.cfm to read the training catalog. Keep in mind that TG can tailor training to meet the needs of your financial aid office. To find out how, contact the TG Speakers Bureau at (800) 252-9743, ext. 4650, or send an message to email@example.com.
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Clarification for Daylight Saving Time article
In last week's Shoptalk Online (edition 391), the article on Daylight Saving Time incorrectly stated that TG had updated all of its operating systems, servers, and Web applications to comply with the Daylight Saving Time change. In actuality, TG has so far updated most of those systems that directly affect school and lender customers. The remainder of system updates will occur during the weekend of March 3. Final updates to our systems will occur on the weekend of March 11. Shoptalk Online regrets any potential confusion the article may have caused.
For more technical information
If you'd like more information to help you with implementing changes for the new Daylight Saving Time, please visit http://www.javaworld.com/javaworld/jw-12-2006/jw-1201-dst.html.
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