MONEY College

Will a Trust Fund Mess Up Our Financial Aid?

Ask the Expert - Family Finance illustration
Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: My father has put money into a trust for my daughter; she gets access to it in November 2015, when she will be a senior in high school. How will this affect her financial aid for college in 2016? Should we put the money into our name? — Sheila Basom, Maryland

A: Trust funds must be reported as an asset on the FAFSA; as a result, this will likely hurt your daughter’s financial aid eligibility.

That’s because financial assets belonging to a student have a far greater impact on financial aid than parent-owned assets do, says financial adviser Fred Amrein, author of Financial Aid and Beyond: Secrets to College Affordability. Colleges expect a family to use 20% of a dependent child’s funds each year to pay for college, Amreim says, while parents are only expected to use 5.6% of their own assets to pay for college expenses. So for example: If your daughter is the sole beneficiary and the total amount held in the trust is $25,000, her aid eligibility would be reduced by $5,000.

And there’s a double whammy: Annual income from the account must also be reported as part of your daughter’s income on the FASFA form. This could reduce her aid eligibility by as much as 50% of the amount of income.

If your daughter cannot access the funds within the trust until a later date — when she is 30, for instance, or after her grandfather passes away — Amrein says you can make an argument to the financial aid office that those unavailable trust assets should not be factored into the aid equation. But there is no guarantee this will work, because each college’s aid office uses its own discretion.

As for whether to move the funds into your name: It may not even be possible, depending on the type of trust and the wording of the documents. But even before you go through the hassle of attempting it, Amreim suggests, calculate your Expected Family Contribution to see if your income and assets as a parent are already too great to qualify for financial need. (You’ll also need to know the cost of the schools your daughter will be applying to.)

If so, it won’t matter what assets are in the child’s name, he says.

For more information on how your assets will impact your financial aid, see our Saving for College guide.

TIME Education

American Universities Are Failing at Ethics

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Ethics, an academic discipline that routinely arbitrates competing claims, is rarely invoked as a discipline to address university problems

The narratives that help illustrate the lack of professional ethics at American universities occur with greater and greater frequency, though most often we fail to note them as such.

If we put our minds to it, we can remember quite a number of unethical stories at American universities in recent years: the sex abuse case that prompted the firing of the president and football coach at Penn State; the pepper-spraying of students at the University of California at Davis; the tragic hazing death of marching band member Robert Champion at Florida A and M University.

These are stories that happened at universities, and their settings, I believe, are not incidental to the narratives. As an author of University Ethics: How Colleges Can Build and Benefit from a Culture of Ethics, I believe our universities are breeding these scandals and ethical compromise. But rarely, even when the press exposes something shameful about a university, do we identify the issue as a lack of ethics.

Scandals on campus

We can find instances of university scandals on any given day. For instance, what do I find in the Chronicle of Higher Education on just one day: The University of Texas at Austin provides a case to “illustrate how the university has appeared to let academically deficient players push the limits of its policy on academic integrity.”

The closing of campuses belonging to Corinthian College prompts questions about greater oversight. An essay about whether a sociologist “had participated in a felony” while doing research follows another on Rachel Dolezal’s story on race and identity. Finally, there’s a riveting story highlighting what happens when matters of sexual assault conflict with academic freedom.

Here, then, in one week’s coverage of The Chronicle of Higher Education, we have a startling set of issues. This leads us to ask the question: are these issues sensational but isolated moments across the American academic landscape, or is there something more systemic here?

I believe it is systemic.

Missing ethical consciousness

In other forms of professional life, we have long recognized a strong connection between the lack of professional ethics in a particular institutional setting and the lack of an ethical consciousness in that culture.

I believe that the absence of professional ethics is evidence of and symptomatic of a culture disinterested in ethics. For instance, as we come out of the sexual abuse scandals that have ripped apart the churches, we see that the disinterest in professional ethical accountability of bishops and priests was sustained by the church’s clerical culture that was more attuned to advancement than it was to ethical responsibility and transparency.

A similar culture is part and parcel of the contemporary American university.

Simply put, the American university does not hold its employees to professional ethical standards because it has not created a culture of ethical consciousness and accountability at the university. This is in part because of the nature of the contemporary university and because it needs ethics.

The contemporary university functions not as an integrated, transparent community but as a medieval set of fiefdoms in which transparency and accountability are singularly to “the person upstairs”: that is, to the chair, the dean or a vice president. Faculty and administrators are not accountable to any colleague, but only to a higher administrator.

Moreover, this accountability is only one-directional. For all the compliance, accountability and collaborative models that university faculty teach in their ethics courses to physicians, nurses, managers and lawyers, the university itself remains averse to developing any true accountability structures.

We can certainly acknowledge that at any university, anyone can take a course on business ethics, nursing ethics, legal ethics, medical ethics or journalistic ethics. Ethics courses in the different professions are easily available at almost any university.

In fact, generally speaking, if one is looking for ethical training in a profession, the courses are found at a university. The one major professional institution about which you cannot find any ethics courses listed among the hundreds of courses at any university is precisely the university.

Where are university ethics?

Ethics, an academic discipline that routinely arbitrates competing claims, is rarely invoked as a discipline to address university problems.

So, if you search for a course on university ethics, you will simply not find one. Professors and their deans recognize the need to teach professional ethics in all the other professions, but it seems they show no real interest in professional ethics for their own profession.

Not convinced? Take the test that I did.

Go to your university library and look for books on professional ethics. At my university, as I found in my research, we have over 400,000 books stacked in our library. There, each book is assigned a subject heading.

Under the subject “medical ethics,” we have 1,321 books; under “business ethics,” 599 books; under “nursing ethics,” 234 books; under “legal ethics,” 129 books; under “clergy ethics,” 25 (relatively new) books; and, under “academic ethics,” five (brand new) books.

Nonetheless, even these academic ethics books are only about professors’ conduct in their classes and offices. There are no books on university ethics, none at least that attempt to set ethical cultures and standards across the entire campus.

This lack of books on academic and university ethics is alarming inasmuch as academics, more than business people, nurses, doctors and lawyers, develop their careers precisely by writing books!

Our métier and promotional mantra is “Publish or perish.”

While we publish books on professional ethics in other fields, we apparently have very little interest in the field of professional academic ethics. Concomitantly, just as we do not write books on the topic, we do not teach the courses either.

But then, none of us seem to be aware of this.

This article originally appeared on The ConversationThe Conversation

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email

MONEY College

3 Ways to Cut the Cost of College Tours

A student leader gives an admissions tour in the center of campus, Columbia University
Martin Shields—Alamy A student leader gives an admissions tour in the center of campus, Columbia University.

How parents and high schoolers can see every school on their wish list for less.

As a parent, you expect college tuition to be painfully high. What may come as a shock is the price of getting into school in the first place. One of the biggest expenses? Campus visits. Kat Cohen, CEO of admissions consultant IvyWise, estimates that applying to college runs upwards of $3,500, including application and testing fees and trips to the schools.

The price of skipping the tour, though, can be higher: not getting in. Three out of four schools say “demonstrated interest,” such as visiting the campus, meeting an admissions officer, or at least calling, is a consideration in admissions, according to a 2013 National Association for College Admission Counseling survey.

These three strategies can help you keep your college touring budget in check.

For Starters, Stay Home

You and your high schooler will want to visit your top choices before making a pick. But for narrowing down schools, it’s fine to explore online. You can find virtual campus tours at many college websites. Or go to YouVisit, where you can stroll around more than 100 schools. (With a $30 virtual reality headset, you can feel like you’re actually there.)

To dig deeper, your child can join web chats with financial aid officers and admissions reps at, which hosts events with more than 100 schools over the summer. “Today’s students are more comfortable asking questions online,” says CEO Robert Rosenbloom.

Keep exploring. By reading college newspapers, social media, or blogs by professors, says Cohen, students can pick up insights that can help them demonstrate “informed interest” in a school in their essays and interviews.

Make Your Road Trip Epic

To save money, visit more than one school per trip. Two tours a day is a reasonable goal. Also, start close to home, says Cohen. You can learn what’s most valuable to you before you spend thousands on flights and hotels.

If you want to send your kid on the road without you, specialized tour companies make the logistics easier (and provide adult supervision). offers trips by region, including New England and California. An eight-day tour of 12 schools costs around $2,000.

Ask the College to Help

Check to see if a school offers reduced hotel rates, free meals in the dining hall, or bookstore discounts. Even better, if your child is in high demand—a woman interested in tech, say, or a minority candidate or East Coast kid looking to travel far—schools might pay for a visit. “It wasn’t until I started researching college secrets that I learned about fly-in programs,” says Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, author of College Secrets for Teens. But by then, she’d spent thousands visiting campuses with her daughter. When it comes to paying for college, every thousand you can save is well worth the effort.

Related: Check out MONEY’s 2015-16 Best Colleges rankings

TIME White House

Education Department Dials Back Plan to Rate Colleges

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The Department of Education announced this week that it’s backing off its ambitious and controversial plan to rate all of the nation’s colleges and universities, marking a win for institutions and the vast higher education lobby that vehemently opposed the idea.

Administration officials promised nearly two years ago that they would roll out a new federal ratings plan, the Post-Secondary Institution Rating System (PIRS), to help push students toward high-quality schools that would give them the best return on their money. President Obama also suggested that the system could eventually be used as a tool to hold institutions accountable, by tying federal financial aid to institutions’ ratings.

The Education Department announced yesterday that it would instead release a different, significantly less ambitious “ratings tool” that will simply provide information about all of the more than 7,500 colleges and universities in the country, so students can “reach their own conclusions about a college’s value.” The new tool will not explicitly rate the institutions based on any measures of quality nor tie federal aid to a school’s performance. (The announcement prompted a cheeky discussion on Twitter about how, exactly, that could be called a “ratings tool” at all.)

Administration officials insisted that the Education Department’s decision to back off on the ratings system did not mark a significant policy shift: the original rating plan was designed primarily as a consumer-facing tool, to help students make informed decisions; the new tool will play precisely role.

Still, many advocates were disappointed. Ben Miller, the senior director of post-secondary education at the Center for American Progress, says it was “a decent step back from putting colleges on notice.”

“The problem I have is that anyone can create a consumer tool” that provides information about schools to students, he said. The Education Department’s College Scorecard and the National Center for Education Statistics’ College Navigator already do some of that.

“What the Education Department does have is an accountability role over every college and university in the country,” he said. “So that’s my disappointment. I wish it would use that unique role more and not do something anyone can do.”

Rachel Fishman, a policy analyst with New America’s Education Policy Program, saw the Education Department’s reversal this week as a “major win for institutions,” which, along with the higher education lobby and a coalition of mostly Republican lawmakers, opposed the ratings plan from the start. They argued that it was little more than a government-led effort to publicly shame certain schools on the basis of incomplete federal data and biased formulas that would reward schools for doing things like, say, admitting high percentages of low-income students.

The higher education lobby argued that PIRS, which was never completed, would be inherently unfair, “since it would be based on incomplete federal data on student achievement,” Fishman said. “They’re right that there’s incomplete data, but the reason for that is because the higher education lobby fought for a ban on that data,” she said. (The government’s ability to collect student records is currently very limited.)

Andrew Kelly, the director of the Center on Higher Education Reform at the American Enterprise Institute, saw the Education Department’s reversal on its rating plan as an indictment of the plan itself. “It’s easy to chalk this up to the higher education lobby’s power, but that implicitly suggests that the policy itself was sound and was the right way to go, and I think that’s not correct,” he said. “I think the notion of the federal government rating colleges wasn’t particularly appropriate in the first place. Where they would up is probably where they would have started.”

Administration officials argued that it hasn’t dropped the ball on holding institutions accountable; it’s just using other tools. For example, on Tuesday this week, a federal court judge threw out a lawsuit brought by for-profit colleges that attempted to overturn the federal government’s new “gainful employment rules,” which will require for-profit and a very limited number of other colleges to meet certain benchmarks of quality—like whether alumni get jobs that pay them well enough to repay their loans—in order to receive federal financial aid. The new rule are now set to go into effect next week.

TIME Hillary Clinton

Clinton: Stop For-Profit Colleges From Targeting Veterans

Hillary Clinton Addresses Nat'l Ass'n Of Latino Elected And Appointed Officials
Ethan Miller—Getty Images Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials' (NALEO) 32nd Annual Conference at the Aria Resort & Casino at CityCenter on June 18, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Hillary Clinton announced on Thursday a new plan intended to stop for-profit colleges from fleecing veterans who use federal G.I. Bill funds to attend school.

Speaking before a roundtable with veterans in Reno, Nevada, Clinton focused her remarks on the so-called 90-10 rule. The rule requires for-profit colleges to accept at least 10% of their money from private dollars rather than federal financial aid and loans, with the idea of holding the schools more accountable to the open market.

But an unintended loophole in the 90-10 rule means that federal military benefits like the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill can count toward schools’ 10%. That leads for-profit schools to aggressively target veterans in search of federal dollars, often deceptively. Proponents of a new bill say that veterans at many for-profit schools have high dropout rates and leave badly in debt.

Clinton would plan to close the loophole.

It’s hardly a sweeping vision for the country of the tenor that Clinton laid out in her campaign launch speech on Saturday. But in the coming months, advisers say Clinton will continue to roll out policy proposals at the rate of about one per week.

Two bills similar to Clinton’s proposal introduced in the House and Senate have foundered without gaining much momentum.

Clinton also said on Thursday she would plan as President to address predatory lending to veterans, healthcare and expanding job options after service.

She sang the praises of bipartisan compromise, too. “In a democracy, nobody has all the answers,” Clinton said. “You have to get up everyday and say, ‘I’m willing to work for anyone whose willing to work for the good of America and in particular the good of our veterans.'”

TIME jeb bush

Jeb Bush Once Cut Funding to His Campaign Launch Site

Jeb Bush is expected to trumpet his conservative credentials as the former governor of Florida Monday when he announces his presidential bid. But one casualty of his cost-conscious ways was the very school he selected to use as his announcement site.

A 2002 state constitutional amendment to limit class sizes in K-12 education, which Bush opposed, created a budget shortfall. The governor, who opposed new tax hikes, begrudgingly turned to colleges to fill the gap. Bush proposed cutting $111 million from the budgets of universities and community colleges, of which $10.3 million would have affected Miami Dade College, where Bush will launch his presidential bid.

College President Eduardo Padron emailed Bush when his budget was proposed, saying he was “disturbed and disappointed” by the proposed cuts. “We all understand the need for reductions in times of fiscal crisis; what’s beyond logical comprehension, however, are the huge inequities that are inherent in this budget proposal,” he wrote, arguing the college was bearing a disproportionate burden of cuts. “Our students are among the most needy in the state and cannot continue to bear the burden of the costs of education.”

Bush replied that he was working on a solution. “I know you are upset,” he said by email. “We are doing our best under difficult circumstances and will work with the legislature to identify ways that we can improve the situation.”

Bush ultimately signed a budget that cut $11 million from community colleges’ budgets, forcing them to turn away about 35,000 students looking to enroll, including 9,500 would-be Miami Dade College students.

By 2004, Bush was able to fully fund community colleges, earning plaudits from state educators.

TIME Higher Education

A Controversial Proposal to Fix Fraternities: Keep the Women Out

The latest proposal in the fight to end sexual assault on campus

The University of Missouri in Columbia is considering an alumni group’s idea to ban women from fraternity houses on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.

The idea was included in a series of proposed changes entitled “Safety of Women Students in Fraternity Houses,” which was submitted by the MU Fraternity Alumni Consortium and leaked last week. The consortium is not an official alumni group of the university, a university spokesman said, but the group has been working with the administration on ways to improve Greek life over the past several years.

MORE: Crisis on Fraternity Row

In addition to prohibiting women from entering fraternities between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, the proposal also suggests disallowing fraternities from hosting social events outside of Columbia, Mo., restricting the alcohol that can be served at fraternities to beer, and requiring fraternities and sororities to conduct mandatory drug tests. Most national sororities already do not permit alcohol in sorority houses.

After the proposal leaked, students took to social media to complain. The university is hosting a summit on June 20 to discuss the proposal and solicit input from student leaders in the Greek community. “Nothing has been finalized yet,” said Christian Basi, a university spokesman. “The perception among Greek students that the proposals were final is not the case.”

The proposals at Missouri come after a period of heightened scrutiny on the problem of sexual assault on campus and the misbehavior of members of the Greek community, particularly fraternities.

MORE: 3 Ways to Fix Fraternities

In a statement released by the Panhellenic Association, which represents sororities, and Interfraternity Council at Missouri, the Greek councils expressed concern about the proposals, writing that they “strongly [disagree] with several of the policies proposed.”

TIME Higher Education

Study of Canadian University Women Shows Training Program Reduced Risk of Rape

Women trained in self defense and risk assessment were less likely to be victims a year after

A training program designed to teach first-year college women how to resist sexual assault showed substantial reduction in risk of completed rape during their first year of school, a new study conducted at three Canadian universities showed.

For college women, the risk of sexual assault is highest during the first two years. The results of the study suggest that for every 22 women who are educated in the training program, one rape would be prevented in the year after the students participate.

The study, published by the New England Journal of Medicine, was a randomized controlled trial conducted at three Canadian universities. The researchers recruited first-year female students, aged 17-24, by emailing and calling women who were registered for psychology courses and posting flyers around campus.

Read More: This Is the New Frontier in the Fight Against Campus Rape

A randomly selected control group of 442 women were assigned to a session where they were given access to brochures on sexual assault, a standard university practice. The other 451 women were assigned to receive a training program that included four three-hour sessions, in small groups of 23 or less, teaching the women to “assess risk from acquaintances, overcome emotional barriers in acknowledging danger, and engage in effective verbal and physical self defense.”

The researchers followed up with the women after six months, then a year. At the one-year mark, the women who received the resistance training were less likely to have fallen victim to completed rape than the control group, with 5.2% self-reporting victimization vs. 9.8% in the control group. The risk reduction was even greater for attempted rape, with a ratio of 3.4% in the group who got the training, compared with 9.3% in the group who did not.

The study acknowledged some limitations. A disproportionate number of women with prior victimization participated in study, a group that is at higher risk for recurrence of sexual assault; and the study required self-reporting, which can introduce bias. The study’s authors also pointed out that more work needs to be done to identify effective interventions to change male behavior, and that universities might not have the resources to ensure full participation in such a comprehensive training program.

TIME Higher Education

1 in 4 Harvard Grads Didn’t Have Sex in College

And so much more info about Harvard's graduating class

A quarter of Harvard College’s graduating seniors didn’t have sex while in college, according to a survey by The Harvard Crimson. Among the grads who didn’t remain celibate during their years in college, 12% of the class had more than 10 sexual partners and 21% first had sex during their freshman year.

The survey also revealed that three years after a cheating scandal rocked the Ivy League institution, nearly 20% of graduating seniors admitted to cheating while in college. Nine of out 10 admitted cheaters said they did so on a problem set or homework assignment, while about 30% cheated on exams or papers.

Sexual assault on college campuses has been a hot topic this year and Harvard was not immune to the issue. More than 14% of women said they had been sexually assaulted while at Harvard.

More than 750 people, nearly half of Harvard’s senior class, responded to the poll.

[The Crimson]

TIME innovations

This Robot Learned to Make a Salad by Watching YouTube

Julia Child taught a generation of Americans how to cook gourmet French cuisine by breaking it down into simple steps that anyone could follow. A robot named for her at the University of Maryland took a similar approach when it taught itself to make a salad.

Using pattern recognition software designed by the interdisciplinary robotics team at the College Park campus, Julia the robot watched YouTube videos of people making salads to learn the steps, from cutting vegetables to tossing the ingredients and even pouring the salad dressing at the end.

Surprisingly, it was that last step that proved the most difficult, since dressing doesn’t always come out evenly and the robot does not yet have good feedback mechanisms to know when too little or too much is coming out. Even taking the cap off the bottle proved challenging.

Computer science professor Yiannis Aloimonos said the team chose cooking because it is something that everyone understands how to do but which is actually challenging for a robot to learn. But the lessons they’ve learned in programming Julia could be applied to just about any human activity, from stocking shelves to working on a factory floor.

“If you can work in the kitchen with your hands and do things, basically you can do almost anything else,” he said.

So far, Julia has made tomato salads, fruit salads and even a tuna salad that required some tricky work spooning out the mayonnaise. Aloimonos, who moved to the U.S. from Greece in 1982, said they’re now working on a Greek salad, but not just because he likes them.

“The objects that are involved—tomatoes and cucumbers—are not easy to cut and manipulate, and then you have soft things like feta cheese and oily things like olives,” he said. “It’s a challenge to put them all together at the same time.”

The robot was purchased with an educational discount from Rethink Robotics for about the price of a small car. Cornelia Fermüller, a research scientist at the university, developed the pattern recognition software to allow it to learn from watching YouTube—a process she compared to learning how to speak a language.

For now, it’s a language that Julie speaks at only a basic level. But there’s always more YouTube videos to watch.

“I don’t think that we’ll get to that gourmet level soon,” Fermüller said.

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