Student Advising

Student Advising

By providing students with one-on-one support and resources to navigate the complex financial aid process, we ensure that they can find an affordable path to and through college. uAspire has College Affordability Advisors working in Massachusetts and the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition, uAspire provides virtual advising—100% text-based support—to students in other parts of the country through innovative collaborations.

For Students

Our Programs

High School and College Advising Programs Timeline


 

Afford Program

High school students are supported throughout the school year and the summer after graduation to find an affordable postsecondary option and successfully enroll. Advisors supplement high school counselors who depend on uAspire to help with the financial issues related to college.

11TH & 12TH GRADE

Students meet with their advisor in their high school or use texting to find a way to afford college:

  • Identify affordable college options
  • Complete financial aid applications including FAFSA, CSS Profile, CA Dream Act
  • Identify scholarship opportunities
  • Review financial aid award letters

SUMMER

Via text, students receive personalized guidance on how to complete the tasks necessary to successfully enroll in college in the fall:

  • Pay first-term tuition bill
  • Manage loans
  • Register for classes
  • Access on-campus resources

We aim to ensure that students take the necessary steps to find an affordable path to college.

  • Attend a planning session. Student learns about the financial aid process and different types of aid. Advisor learns about student’s family financial situation and college goals to map out next steps.
  • Identify a financial safety school to include on student’s college list.
  • Complete financial aid applications. Advisor helps student complete the FAFSA or California Dream Act Application and institution-specific forms, identify scholarship opportunities, and navigate the verification process if needed.
  • Review financial aid award letters. Advisor helps student better understand financial aid packages and loan options to compare the full costs associated with each college and financing plan. Student learns which colleges to consider affordable and how to advocate for additional aid.
  • Engage in summer texting and tasks. Advisor assists student with his college’s requirements and deadlines related to enrolling, like signing for student loans, registering for orientation, and paying the first term bill.

Succeed Program

Right on their phones, college students receive personalized support to continue to access financial aid, make financially responsible decisions, and overcome financial barriers to persist and ultimately complete their degree with a manageable amount of debt.

YEAR 1 & YEAR 2 COLLEGE

Students are supported through text advising to help them persist through their first years of college while gaining the knowledge and skills to help them afford to finish:

  • Renew FAFSA
  • Know GPA and credit progress to degree completion
  • Have plan to pay college bills 
  • Know current and overall debt amounts

We aim to ensure that students take the necessary steps to follow an affordable path through college. Through strategically-timed text messages, advisors assist students with a range of tasks.

  • Pay college billAdvisor helps student understand and develop a plan to pay her college bills, then makes sure student has paid them.
  • Renew FAFSA/California Dream Act. Advisor helps student complete the paperwork needed to receive an award letter for the following school year, and submit any documents requested for verification.
  • Understand satisfactory academic progress. Student learns whether her grade point average will affect her financial aid eligibility in the future.
  • Know amount borrowed. Student confirms her loan amounts and credit progress toward degree. Advisor uses this information to help student approximate her total loan debt and monthly payments after graduation.

Virtual Programs

Our virtual programs bring uAspire's innovative text advising to students across the country. 

All of our college affordability advising programs use texting in their work with students. Texting is:

  • Convenient—removes the geographic and scheduling limitations on students’ ability to seek help
  • Efficient—increases advisor capacity while costing a fraction of in-person advising
  • Personal—allows for in-depth, candid conversations in a familiar format
  • Impactful—proven to be powerfully effective and scalable

Our text advising expertise and efficacy were considerably advanced by recent large-scale virtual programs impacting 46,000 student nationwide. uAspire advisors reached 31,000 students in 15 states as part of a 2015-16 research study in partnership with the College Board and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. From October 2016 through September 2017, our national virtual program supported 15,000 high school seniors in eight states—California, Florida, Texas, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Advisors check in with students via text message to help guide them along critical college affordability milestones. Texts are aligned with where the student is on the financial aid timeline. For example:

“Hi Kevin! Have you had a chance to submit your FAFSA? YES/ NOT YET.”

When Kevin responds, his designated advisor will answer his questions, recommend next steps, and interpret his needs in that moment, which can be anything from encouragement, support, or coaching, to simply clarifying a term.

Students count on their advisors as a primary source of information and individualized support on a wide range of tasks and decisions. For instance, together over text, advisors and students navigate college websites to review financial aid award letters; advisors coach students through calling colleges to ask specific questions about their tuition bill. Along the way, students not only leverage financial aid and minimize debt, they are empowered with the skills and knowledge to do it themselves.
 

Meet the College Affordability Advisors

A unique combination of advocate, educator, and coach, College Affordability Advisors offer hope and encouragement as they support students to navigate systems that, despite a mission to the contrary, often hinder their success.

Our advisors are all-in, driven by passion and commitment to work beyond the call of duty. Their expertise with college affordability is matched by their ability to connect with students and build trust, whether face-to-face or miles apart over text-message.

Their day-to-day, on-the-ground experience with thousands of students each year across the country informs and advances our training and policy work. Simply put, College Affordability Advisors are the heart of uAspire—the core of what we do—and they transform the lives of the students they advise.

Meet Our Team

Lauren Miller

Lauren Miller

College Affordability Advisor

Carmen Chan

Carmen Chan

College Affordability Advisor

Elan Eichler

Elan Eichler

College Affordability Advisor

Jenny Smith

Jenny Smith

College Affordability Advisor

Angela Wright

Angela Wright

Senior College Affordability Advisor

Lilibeth Tapia

Lilibeth Tapia

College Affordability Advisor

View all advisors

 

Richard

Meet Richard

"I strive to be a steady presence for my students—pushing them when they need to be pushed, encouraging them when they need encouragement."
Ten years ago, I was a confused senior at Charlestown High School. Today, I am a proud college graduate and uAspire College Affordability Advisor. Every day, I work with low-income students across Massachusetts to make their dreams of college a reality, just like my uAspire advisor, Chris, did for me ten years ago. keep reading

Program Partners

Collaboration is at the core of uAspire's work. We achieve greater impact by partnering with institutions and other nonprofits that allow us to:

  • strengthen or expand our program quality and performance
  • provide an integrated continuum of services to meet students' needs 
  • enter new geographies and reach new students
  • address complex challenges facing first-generation college students and young people from low-income backgrounds

We’re honored to work alongside our extraordinary partners. Together, we're removing the financial barriers that keep too many of our nation’s young people from graduating college and reaching their potential.

uAspire Massachusetts is proud to be one of five partner organizations in State Street's Boston Workforce Investment Network (Boston WINs) supporting Boston youth in their transition from high school into the workforce. Being a WINS member has given us the opportunity to work more with our partners toward the goal of improving student outcomes.

As our contribution to San Francisco’s My Brother’s & Sister’s Keeper Initiative, we provide dedicated advising for all African American 12th graders—approximately 230 students—in 16 San Francisco Unified School District high schools.

“Google.org is excited to partner with uAspire because they're a proven, evidence-based model that we know works for young people.” —Justin Steele, Principal, Google.org

Since 2008, uAspire has partnered with Success Boston, an innovative citywide college completion initiative that engages with Boston Public Schools (BPS), the City of Boston, 37 higher education institutions, and local nonprofits seeking to double the college completion rate for students from BPS. As the initiative's college affordability partner, we provide our Succeed text advising to students and college affordability training to Success Boston coaches.

In 2016, uAspire Bay Area launched a statewide partnership with the University of California (UC) to provide our text advising services to high school students participating in the UC President’s Pre-College Scholars program. We currently serve over 1,000 12th graders living near eight UC campuses, with the long-term goal of expanding services to all ten UC campuses. 

“uAspire’s expert support allows our students and their families to get immediate answers to important questions around college costs and financial aid, helping to fulfill our program’s aim to boost college-going rates for these stellar students.” —Dr. Yvette Gullatt, Vice Provost for Diversity and Engagement, University of California Office of the President