CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As tuition and costs rise, scholarships and loans are becoming increasingly important to many college students. Students must also think carefully about how much they will take out in loans, since they must pay them back.
"There is a lot of disinformation about loans today. And there is often no parental involvement," said Nicole Rowe, who heads the Upward Bound Program at West Virginia State University.
"Students need to be trained at an earlier age. Students often have no financial literacy," Rowe said during a two-hour education roundtable sponsored by the Federal Student Aid Office and hosted by WVSU on Monday morning.
Angela Holley, director of the Heart of Appalachia Talent Search at Marshall University, said, "Sometimes students would rather go out and work in the mines, rather than go to college."
Both Rowe and Holley believe community groups should be encouraged to be more involved in helping students plan to finance college educations, including the Job Corps, the Boy Scouts and faith-based organizations.
Tod Barnette, principal of Sherman High School in Boone County, said many problems are created in rural areas where technology is not easily available.
"Some students don't have cellphone service or Internet access. Where we don't have this access, many families access their information through the U.S. Postal Service," Barnette said. "And between 10 and 15 percent of our students are being raised by grandparents."
Barnette praised the Clay Center, in Charleston, and the Huntington Museum of Art for providing helpful information and insights to thousands of high school students every year.
Brian Weingart, a member of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, said, "We have a lot of first-generation college students in West Virginia.
"And almost one-half of our students are over 25 years old," Weingart said. "Adults want to go back to school if they lose their jobs or are divorced."
Weingart pointed out that there are three main types of financial aid today: federal, state and institutional.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., sent a message to the meeting stating, "I have fought to protect [federal] Pell Grants and worked to prevent interest for federal student loans debts from rising from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent."