Army veteran named Tillman Military Scholar

June 5, 2012

Casaundra Wallace, an undergraduate student in the School of Letters of and Science at Arizona State University, has been selected as a Tillman Military Scholar for the 2012-2013 academic year.

In 2008, the Pat Tillman Foundation established the Tillman Military Scholars program to support educational opportunities for servicemembers and military families by bridging the financial gaps left by the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. As a result, Tillman Military Scholars receive financial support to not only cover traditional study-related expenses such as tuition and books, but also other needs, including but not limited to: housing, transportation and childcare. Casaundra Wallace Download Full Image

“I cried a little when I found out that I was chosen a Military Scholar. It means a lot to me and it is great to be a part of group that does so much for veterans,” said Wallace.

An Arizona native, Wallace knew from an early age that she wanted become a solider. She recalls watching scenes from the first Gulf War on TV as a ten year-old and being fascinated by the selflessness and dedication displayed by the men and women in combat.

“I was so impressed by these people, and that they went overseas to help people they had never met and had nothing in common with. I decide it was something I wanted to do,” she said.

After graduating high school in 1999, Wallace enlisted in the Army and made her dream come true. She served four and a half years when she made the tough decision to retire from service. And although she enjoyed her time in the military, she has enjoyed the opportunities that have arisen from being a veteran even more.

“Being a part of the Army is to be a part of an enormous family. Now, to be out of the military and to be a veteran means being a part of an even bigger family,” Wallace explains. “Being a veteran and giving back the veteran community is the coolest thing ever.”

One way that she is able give back is by assisting veterans through their educational benefits in the Pat Tillman Veteran Center. An advocate for education, Wallace says that veterans already have the tools to be successful in college because of their natural drive and responsibility.

As a non-traditional student herself, Wallace says her three children motivate her forge through the struggles of balancing work, school and home life. They also enjoy that their mom can relate to the woes of homework.

“Having my kids pushes me to do that much more because I can prove to them that ‘I’ve done all of this and you can too’,” she said.

Wallace will be studying at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law in the fall. She is considering focusing her studies in the public policy arena on either environmental law or Indian law.

One thing is clear though – her future is bright and possibilities are endless.

ASU joins White House talks on college costs, financial aid transparency

June 5, 2012

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Richard Cordray and Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz met in Washington, D.C., June 5, with presidents and leaders from 10 colleges, universities and state systems of higher education who have committed to providing key financial information to all of their incoming students starting next year.

Arizona State University was invited to the meeting as one of the universities making the commitment. Download Full Image

“Arizona State University is dedicated to excellence and access for all academically qualified students regardless of socio-economic background,” Crow said. “The university strongly supports the recommendations put forth by Vice President Biden, Secretary Duncan, Director Cordray and Director Muñoz, and we are commited to providing students and their families with information they need to better understand the long-term financial investment they are making in higher education.”

ASU’s commitment to financial aid transparency includes providing the following information to all incoming students, in one easy-to-understand place, as part of their financial aid package beginning with the 2013-2014 school year:

• how much one year of college will cost

• financial aid options to pay this cost, with a clear differentiation between grants and scholarships, which do not have to be repaid, and loans, which do

• net costs after grants and scholarships are taken into account

• estimated monthly payments for the federal student loans the student would likely owe after graduation

• vital information about student results, including comparative information about the rates at which students enroll from one year to the next, graduate, and repay their loans without defaulting on their obligations

Additional colleges, universities and state systems of higher education making the commitment to transparency in financial aid information include Miami Dade College, North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, State University System of New York (comprised of 64 colleges, universities, and community colleges), Syracuse University, University of Massachusetts System (comprised of 5 universities), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University System of Maryland (comprised of 12 universities), University of Texas System (comprised of 9 universities), and Vassar College.

Ensuring every American can attain a college credential is critical to President Barack Obama’s plan for creating an “America Built to Last.” With two out of every three new jobs requiring some postsecondary education, completing college has never been more important.  However, it  also has never been more expensive.  Students are borrowing more to attend college – about two-thirds of bachelor’s degree recipients, in fact, and accumulate an average debt at graduation of over $26,000 in federal and private student loans. While a quality higher education remains a sound investment, students and families need to clearly understand the costs and benefits of each college they are considering so they can easily compare choices and identify the best value prior to enrolling.  
A key piece of President Obama’s plan to make college more affordable is improved information and transparency of college costs and value. Clarity and accessibility of information is necessary so that students and families can make informed decisions about where to attend college, so they can choose a school that is best suited to their financial and educational goals. Too often, students and families face confusion when comparing financial aid packages, some of which do not clearly differentiate loans from grants, nor distinguish private vs. federal loans, making it difficult to compare aid offers side-by-side.
To help families better understand this information, the U.S. Department of Education, in partnership with the CFPB, gathered input from students, families, and the higher education community to develop a model financial aid award letter, or Financial Aid Shopping Sheet, which colleges and universities can adopt to provide prospective students with the type and amount of aid they qualify for and easily compare aid packages offered by different institutions.

Sharon Keeler