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Grads Left Behind $3.75B in Free College Aid in 2021, Study Says

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High school graduates are forgoing free money for college by not submitting financial aid applications, according to a new analysis by the nonprofit National College Attainment Network.

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The Class of 2021 left behind $3.75 billion in Pell Grant aid by not completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. An estimated 813,000 students were eligible for the Pell Grant — the largest federal grant program offered to undergraduates — but didn’t submit an application for federal student aid, according to NCAN.

“This quantifies exactly how much opportunity, in the form of forgone Pell Grants, students are leaving on the table,” says Bill DeBaun, director of data and evaluation at NCAN. “It’s another component of showing how dire the college-going situation is in the U.S. right now.”

The findings of the analysis are estimates only; it assumes all high school grads who are eligible for financial aid would submit an application and attend college directly after high school. Nonetheless, the analysis does show that a large number of students aren’t submitting the FAFSA, and if students aren’t submitting it, it’s unlikely they’re enrolling in college, DeBaun says. That can have countless long-term impacts, he added.

FAFSA completion rates are declining

The pandemic’s impact on FAFSA completion is one of the reasons $3.75 billion went unclaimed.

“A huge part of it is the FAFSA is complicated, and students from all walks of life really need support to get through the process,” says Traci Lanier, vice president of external affairs at 10,000 Degrees, a nonprofit college access organization that supports students before and after enrolling in college.

The pandemic forced much of that support to go virtual, Lanier added, and assisting students over one-on-one video conferencing proved to be a challenge compared with large groups that could gather and learn before the pandemic.

In 2019, 61% of high school graduates submitted the FAFSA, while in 2021, an estimated 53% had submitted the application by June 30, according to NCAN. College enrollment has dropped during the pandemic, along with FAFSA completion.

Since fall 2019, there has been a 5.1% drop in enrollment, which translates to nearly 1 million fewer students enrolled in college now than before the pandemic, according to estimates from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

“This is not a hiccup, this is not a blip in college-going,” DeBaun says. “This is a real trend, and it is something that has and is going to keep having real implications on students’ individual finances, on their family’s finances, community’s finances, and then of course, local, state, and national revenue.”

Some state policies have increased FAFSA completion rates

The states with the highest FAFSA completion rates include Louisiana and Tennessee. In 2021, Louisiana had a completion rate of 68%, and Tennessee saw a rate of 71%, according to NCAN’s estimates. Both states have policies that incentivize students to complete the FAFSA.

On the other hand, there are 16 states that have completion rates below 50%, and in the two states with the lowest completion rates, Utah and Alaska, just 37% of high school graduates in 2021 submitted the FAFSA.

Louisiana made submitting the FAFSA a requirement for graduating high school in 2016, and completion rates jumped 10% in the first year the policy was implemented, says Peter Granville, a senior policy associate at The Century Foundation, a progressive, independent think tank. In Tennessee, students complete the FAFSA at such high rates due to incentives including free community college, Granville says.

“It is implicit in the [mandatory FAFSA] policy that everyone should have a chance to go to college,” says Granville. “I think it has the potential to do a great job starting conversations between students and their schools and their families about going to college and paying for college.”

Submitting the FAFSA is key to paying for college

Each Pell-eligible student in the Class of 2021 who didn’t submit the FAFSA missed out on an average of $4,477 nationally, NCAN estimates.

The Pell Grant is awarded based on demonstrated need, most often to lower-income students, but there is no income limit. The total award depends on details shared in the FAFSA as well as the cost of attendance of the school you plan on applying to.

For students in the Class of 2021 who didn’t submit the FAFSA, 44% said they didn’t do so because they didn’t think they’d qualify for aid, according to student loan lender Sallie Mae’s 2021 “How America Pays for College” study.

If you’re considering pursuing higher education this fall:

  • Even if you’re unsure whether you’d qualify for financial aid, you should still complete the application, as not all aid is based on demonstrated need.
  • You don’t need to know where you’re going to school before completing the application; rather, you just need to provide the names of the institutions you’re considering.
  • It’s best to submit the FAFSA sooner rather than later as some aid is disbursed on a first-come, first-served basis.

The article Grads Left Behind $3.75B in Free College Aid in 2021, Study Says originally appeared on NerdWallet.

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Identity in the metaverse: Creating a global identity system

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With the advent of the metaverse, the need for a global identity system has become apparent. There are many different ways to create an identity in the metaverse, but no single system is universally accepted. 

The challenge is usually two-fold: first, how to create an identity that is accepted by all the different platforms and services in the metaverse, and second, how to keep track of all the different identities a person may have.

There are many proposed solutions to these challenges, but no clear consensus has emerged. Some believe that a single, global identity system is the only way to ensure interoperability between different platforms and services. Others believe that multiple identities are necessary to allow people to maintain their privacy and security.

The debate is ongoing, but it is clear that the need for a global identity system is becoming more urgent as the metaverse continues to grow.

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In this article, we will explore the various options for creating a global identity system in the metaverse. We will discuss the pros and cons of each option, and try to identify the best solution for the future.

Option 1: A single global identity

The simplest solution to the problem of identity in the metaverse is to create a single, global identity system. This would be a centralized system that would be responsible for managing all identities in the metaverse. 

The advantages of this approach are obvious: It would be much easier to keep track of identities, and there would be no need to worry about different platforms and services accepting different identities. In addition, a centralized identity system would allow for better security and privacy controls, as well as the ability to track identity theft and fraud.

However, this approach also has several disadvantages. First, it would be very difficult to create a global identity system that is accepted by everyone. Also, a centralized system would be vulnerable to attack and could be used to track people’s movements and activities. Third, it would be difficult to protect the privacy of users in a centralized system.

Option 2: Multiple identities

Another solution to the problem of identity in the metaverse is to allow each person to have multiple identities. This would mean that each person could have one or more identities that they use for different purposes. 

One of the main advantages of this approach is that it would allow people to maintain their privacy and security. Each person could choose which identity to use for each situation, and they would not have to worry about their entire identity being exposed. In addition, this approach would be more resilient to attack, as it would be much harder to take down multiple identities than a single one.

The limitations of such an approach would be that it could be difficult to keep track of all the different identities, and there would be no guarantee that different platforms and services would accept all of them. In addition, multiple identities could lead to confusion and could make it more difficult for people to build trust with others.

Option 3: A decentralized identity system

A third solution to the problem of identity in the metaverse is to create a decentralized identity system. This would be an identity system that is not controlled by any one centralized authority but rather is distributed among many different nodes. 

This might seem like the ideal approach, since decentralization is a common theme in the metaverse. However, there are still some challenges that need to be overcome. For instance, it would need to be ensured that all the different nodes in the system are properly synchronized and that the system as a whole is secure. In addition, it might be difficult to get people to adopt such a system if they are used to the more traditional centralized approach.

One solution would be to get the nodes in the system to be run by different organizations. This would help to decentralize the system and make it more secure. Another advantage of this approach is that it would allow different organizations to offer their own identity services, which could be more tailored to their needs.

Another would be to incorporate an edge computing solution into the system. This would allow for more decentralized processing of data and could help to improve performance. It would also make the system more resilient to attack since there would be no centralized point of failure.

The best solution for the future of identity in the metaverse is likely to be a combination of these approaches. A centralized system might be necessary to provide a basic level of identity services, but it should be supplemented by a decentralized system that is more secure and resilient. Ultimately, the goal should be to create an identity system that is both easy to use and secure.

The ideal identity standards of the metaverse

Now that we have explored the various options for identity in the metaverse, we can start to identify the ideal standards that should be met by any future global identity system. 

It is no easy task to create a global identity system that meets all of the criteria, but it is important to strive for an ideal solution. After all, the metaverse is still in its early stages, and the decisions made now will have a lasting impact on its future. 

Current iterations of the metaverse have used very traditional approaches to identity, but it is time to start thinking outside the box. The ideal solution will be one that is secure, private, decentralized, and easy to use. It will be a solution that allows people to maintain their privacy while still being able to interact with others in the metaverse. 

Most importantly, it will be a solution that can be accepted and used by everyone. Only then can we hope to create a truly global identity system for the metaverse.

The bottom line on identity in the metaverse

The question of identity in the metaverse is a complex one, but it is an important issue that needs to be addressed. 

The challenges associated with creating an implementation that is secure, private and decentralized are significant, but they are not insurmountable. For one, it will be important to get buy-in from organizations that have a vested interest in the metaverse. These organizations can help to promote and support the adoption of identity standards. 

It is also important to keep in mind that the metaverse is still evolving, and the solution that is ideal today might not be ideal tomorrow. As such, it will be critical to have a flexible identity system that can adapt as the needs of the metaverse change. 

Ultimately, the goal should be to create an identity system that is both easy to use and secure. Only then can we hope to create a truly global identity system for the metaverse.

Daniel Saito is CEO and cofounder of StrongNode

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How to Eliminate Scheduling Inefficiencies in Your Business

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What do salons, consultancies, and home service providers all have in common? This question may seem like the prime setup for a joke, but there’s no punchline to look forward…

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Why You Should Start a Business Only While You Have a Job

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Many people that I meet tell me that they dream of starting their own . I always ask them, “Then why don’t you?” They typically respond by saying that they have so many financial and personal responsibilities, that they can’t just quit their job to start a company, etc. Then I tell them my story …



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Related: How to Use Your Current Job to Start Your Next Business

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