Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Paying for College: Creating a Budget

Money can be tight for college students and paying for tuition and books is only the beginning. Creating a comprehensive financial plan is the best way to avoid budgeting issues that can interrupt student progress and prevent degree completion.

Here are a few tips and resources to help students get started:
It's important to be realistic and leave room for flexibility when creating a long-term budget. Things may change in the time it takes to complete a degree and students should be prepared to make adjustments as needed.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

ASU Advisor Available at RSC March 1

Students interested in transferring to Arizona State University after completing a certificate or degree at  Rio Salado College can make an appointment to meet with ASU Advisor Chris Griffith this Friday.

Griffith is available in the Advisement Office on the 3rd floor of the RSC Tower Building the first Friday of every month. He can discuss ASU programs, steps for admission, evaluation of transfer credits, and any other questions students may have.

Call (602) 496-1751 or email to make an appointment.

Submitted by Advisement Initiatives Liaison Michael Murphy

Saturday, February 23, 2013

RSC Students on All-AZ Academic Team

Rio Salado College students Rebecca Park and Erin Brooke Earnest have been selected as members of the All-Arizona Academic Team. They celebrated their accomplishments earlier this week at an honors luncheon with more than 70 other team members from community colleges across Arizona.

Students are selected and ranked based on academic achievement, leadership, school participation, and service. First team students receive a $1,000 cash award, with students on the second and third team receiving $750 and $500 respectively. All team members also receive a tuition waiver at any one of Arizona’s state universities. The recognition is sponsored by Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society for two-year colleges, the Arizona Board of Regents and the Arizona Community College Presidents’ Council.

Erin Earnest All-Arizona
Team Member
Third Team member Erin Earnest is a dual enrollment student at Xavier College Preparatory and Rio Salado College. She has been very active in both schools. She is a member of the National Honor Society for Xavier College Preparatory and a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society at Rio Salado College. She is a member of the Xavier College Preparatory varsity swim team and has won four state championships with the team.  She also has received awards for swimming and diving.

She said she wants to pursue a degree in psychology at either Arizona State University or the University of Arizona, after which she wants to attend graduate or medical school to become a psychologist with a focus on helping autistic children and adolescents.

Rebecca Park also placed on the Third Team. She lives in Eager, Arizona and has been taking online classes at Rio Salado College to earn an associate degree in paralegal studies.

Becky Park All-Arizona Team Member
She has been very involved with her community, volunteering with the youth in her local church and participating in a variety of service projects. She helped clean up neighborhoods, made blankets for orphanages and hospitals and gathered supplies for hurricane Katrina victims.

For Park, a mother of four, the flexibility of taking classes online gave her the opportunity she needed, while at the same time working to provide for her family.

“I’m really enjoying the setup, it’s been great that I can work and go to school,” she said.

Park’s goal is to transfer to Arizona State University to study Political Science and become a paralegal. Being selected for the All-Arizona Academic Team is a step in the right direction.

“It’s a good feeling, because I have tried to work hard and do well in school,” she explained.

Both students have excelled academically as well as in their communities and by winning a spot on the All-Arizona Academic Team they  will also receive an additional $500 scholarship from Rio Salado College.
Park is excited for the next step of her education and feels confident that the Rio Salado College faculty has prepared her.

“The teachers really challenge you, they push you to work and to learn, so I feel like I am ready for a university,” she said.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Paying For College: Military Education Benefits

Members of the United States military have access to a variety of financial aid options designed to help them advance their military career as well as transition to civilian employment. Here is a list of the military education benefits that can be used to pay for classes at Rio Salado College.

  • Tuition Assistance –This is similar to corporate tuition assistance programs and is an employment benefit for active duty members of the armed services including activated National Guard and Reservists. Tuition assistance funds do not need to be repaid. Each branch has its own criteria for eligibility. Interested service members are encouraged to talk to their chain of command for more information. 
  • Tuition Top-Up Program – Students who have been approved for federal tuition assistance by a military department who are also eligible for Montgomery GI Bill® Active Duty benefits or the Post 9/11 GI Bill® benefits may take advantage of the Tuition Top-Up Program. This program pays the difference for courses that cost more than tuition assistance will cover. Funds are taken from the student’s GI Bill® entitlement and will be distributed directly to Rio Salado College. Note: Top-Up funds combined with VA funds may not exceed the total cost of the course. 
  • Montgomery GI Bill® – The Montgomery GI Bill is an elective program available to service members in the U.S. Armed Forces. Those who opt-in to this program pay $100 a month for 12 months and must complete a minimum service obligation before receiving benefits. Students who qualify for Montgomery GI Bill® benefits are encouraged to contact our Veterans Affairs office to discuss their options with our Military Advisement Team. 
  • Post- 9/11 GI Bill® – The Post-9/11 GI Bill® offers education benefits to veterans with at least 90 days of service after September 10, 2001. It is also available for those discharged after 30 days with a service-connected disability. Service members must have been honorably discharged in order to be eligible for Post-9/11 GI Bill® benefits. Students who qualify for Montgomery GI Bill® benefits are encouraged to contact our Veterans Affairs office to discuss their options with our Military Advisement Team. 
  • VEAP - The Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP) is an opt-in, 2 to 1 fund matching savings program with limited availability
  • REAP – Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) is designed to provide assistance to reservists called to active-duty in response to a war or national emergency. Students who are eligible for this program are encouraged to contact our Veterans Affairs office to discuss their options with our Military Advisement Team. 
Active duty service members, veterans and their families can find additional information and assistance at the East Valley Veterans Education Center, on our Military Central webpage or by contacting the Veterans Affairs Office.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Child’s Literacy Gift Book Drive

Dr. Seuss once said, “The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Books allow us to travel to faraway places and use our imagination without even leaving our home or school.  Unfortunately, not all children have the opportunity to develop lasting memories of their favorite book or even have a book to call their own.

In honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday on March 2, Rio Salado College students Stephanie Miller and Amber Myhrman are coordinating a book drive from February 25-March 8, to help promote literacy.

The goal is to collect 300 new or gently used children’s books for children age 12 and under. Books will be donated to Holdeman Elementary School in Tempe.

Collection bins will be located in the lobby area of these Rio locations: Tower @ Rio, Hohokam Building, Communiversity @ Surprise, East Valley Veterans Education Center, RSC Avondale, RSC East Valley, RSC Downtown, SPOT 127, KJZZ’s Youth Media Center, Lifelong Learning Center, RSC Northern and RSC Thomas.

For more information about the book drive, contact Stephanie Miller at 480-363-1740 or Amber Myhrman at 602-570-4642.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Janet Hays Recognized for Excellence in Education

Congratulations to Janet Hays of Gilbert Elementary for receiving the Excellence in Education Award for February 2013!

Hays was nominated by parent Rachel Johnston who said, "Mrs. Janet Hays has been the best teacher my children have ever encountered. When I first met her she gave me a warm hug and instantly made me feel welcome in her classroom."

"She talks to the students like they are adults and she asks for classroom respect among the students," Johnston said. "My son has developmental delays, and I have seen more progress in this grade than any other and I feel like it’s a direct result of her teaching."

Excellence in Education is a partnership between Rio Salado College and KEZ 99.9 FM, which recognizes Valley teachers. Students and parents of students are encouraged to nominate K-12 teachers who are excellent at their profession and have gone above-and-beyond the call of duty to make a difference in their community.

Each month, a Valley K-12 teacher will be selected from all the entries to be recognized for their outstanding contribution to education. KEZ’s Marty Manning will visit the teacher’s school to surprise them with their “Excellence in Education” Award. The surprise visit will be broadcast during the Beth and Friends Show. All winning teachers are rewarded with $99, an Excellence in Education Award, and a Rio Salado College gift bag.

To nominate a special teacher, please visit KEZ 99.9 keyword excellence.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Paying for College: Submit Your FAFSA Early!

All students should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), even those who don’t qualify for need-based aid. Student may submit the FAFSA as early as January 1, and sooner is definitely better than later!

The FAFSA is used to determine eligibility for a variety of student aid sources.  As time passes, financial aid sources are depleted of funds and are no longer available. Students who submit their FAFSA in January have access to a significantly larger pool of funding sources than those who submit their application in June.

Students are encouraged to complete and submit their FAFSA as soon as they have completed their tax return for the year.  This provides students with the best opportunity to receive additional funds.

Note: The Rio Salado College school code for the FAFSA is 014483.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Fast Company Names RSC a Top Ten Education Innovator

According to Fast Company, Rio Salado College is one of the top 10 education innovators in the world. The prestigious list includes:

1. Coursera

2. Udacity

3. EdX

4. Rio Salado College

5. Amplify

6. GameDesk

7. Duolingo

8. InsideTrack

9. FunDza

10. ClassDojo

Friday, February 8, 2013

RSC to Host Adult Literacy Event

Adult learners from across the state will showcase their excitement for learning Monday, Feb. 11 from 10:30-Noon at an awards celebration for the I’m in Love with Learning competition. The event is held in conjunction with the ninth annual Arizona Adult Literacy Week, Feb. 10-16, which celebrates adult literacy and lifelong learning in Arizona communities.

Nearly 400 entries from more than 1,000 participants will be on display at the Rio Salado College Conference Center, 2323 W. 14th Street, Tempe, Ariz. Entries include paintings, Learning Trees, posters, essays, jewelry, songs, a dance, a bookmark, a 3D traffic game and more. The following awards will be presented that morning; Award of Excellence, Distinguished Merit, Partner Awards and Honorable Mentions.

Sponsors of the event are The Arizona Association for Lifelong Learning, Rio Salado College and The Arizona Department of Education.

Facts about adult education:

In the 25 adult learning programs across Arizona, nearly 18,000 students take classes to prepare for a GED, improve their English skills and get ready for college.

More than 825,000 adults in Arizona don’t have a GED.

Those who have a GED earn $8,500 more than those who do not.

The benefits of adult education include stronger families, lower crime rates, higher standard of living, safer neighborhoods, and a positive economic impact for local communities.

Thanks to everyone who came out for the event. Here's a fun video of the I Love My English Class dance performance.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Dental Clinic Resumes Classes at New Location

Students in the Dental program at Rio Salado College
celebrate day one in the brand new clinic.

The Rio Salado College Dental Clinic has moved into its new location across the street from the RSC Administrative Headquarters in Tempe.

The facility opened yesterday, and provides dental hygiene students with a new learning laboratory environment. An open house will be held later this spring and the clinic will open to the public this summer.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Paying for College: Buying Books

The cost of textbooks is a major concern for both students and educators. In 2011 the Maricopa County Community College District replaced the somewhat limited Book Voucher with the much more flexible Book Advance. This change means that students who rely on student aid to cover their costs still have the flexibility to purchase books at the best available price from any source.

Although the prices from a third party retailer or online auction may be tempting, there are quite a few advantages to buying course materials from the Rio Salado College bookstore.

  • Buying books from the RSC bookstore is the easiest way to ensure that students have the correct textbook edition and course materials for their RSC course and section. 
  • Customized textbooks created through the Textbook Savings Program are only available at the RSC bookstore. 
  • The textbook buyback program offers up to 50% of the original purchase price for national editions and 20% for custom editions. 
  • The RSC bookstore compare and save tool helps students compare prices before making a purchase. 

Note: Some students prefer to buy and sell books using Facebook, RioLounge, and even Craigslist. While these options are not discouraged, it's important to consider the risks and use common sense when arranging these types of transactions.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

TAACCCT Grant Supports IT Career Training

Rio Salado College is one of five Maricopa Community College entities offering information technology career training as part of a national grant award.

The US Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant supports Rio Salado as a partner in the National Information Security, and Geospatial Technology Consortium (NISGTC). The Consortium includes seven community colleges focused on developing and supporting curriculum and a student model for accelerated career path training.

Through the grant, students can earn certificates of completion or associate degrees in a variety of information technology areas.

Rio Salado College, along with Estrella Mountain Community College, Paradise Valley Community College and South Mountain Community College, offer various IT programs such as Computer Usage and Applications, Programming, Computer Technology, Cisco Network Professional, Networking Technology, Cisco Networking, Networking Administration, Linux Networking Administration, Microsoft Desktop Support Technology, Microsoft 7 Administration, Web Development and Web Design.

The Maricopa Skill Center offers a Computer Support Specialist certificate.

The TAACCT grant provides additional support to students who have a high school diploma or GED, want to pursue careers in IT, and fit at least one of the following profiles with eligible veterans and their spouses receiving priority service:
  • Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) or displaced workers 
  • Underrepresented individuals in the IT profession, including women and ethnic minorities 
  • Unemployed or underemployed 
As part of the grant, eligible students who apply for the IT programs are provided with a student success coach for guidance and support. They also receive IT specific tutoring, industry supported curriculum, and have access to the student support services offered by the Maricopa Community Colleges, including financial aid, counseling and disability resources, veterans’ services and more.

To learn more about the TAACCCT grant programs visit

Friday, February 1, 2013

Paying for College: Parental Income

Federal student aid programs operate on the basic principle that funding education is primarily the responsibility of the student and the student's family. Those who are supported by their parents are considered dependent students and must include information regarding parental income when filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

An assessment of family income is then used to determine how much the student's family is expected to contribute. Even in cases where parents are unwilling to pay tuition or other college expenses, financial aid eligibility is determined by the expected family contribution.

Independent students are not required to include parental income on their FAFSA. Parental income will not be considered when determining the financial aid eligibility of independent students. In order to be considered independent for the 2012-13 school year, students must meet at least ONE of the following federally determined criteria.

  • Born before 1989 (24 years old) 
  • Married (includes separated, but not divorced) 
  • Working on a master's or doctorate degree program 
  • U.S. Military Veteran 
  • Have at least one child who receives more than half their support from the student 
  • Have at least one dependent other than a spouse or child who receives more than half their support from the student. 
  • Parents are deceased 
  • Student was in foster care any time after age 13 
  • Student was a ward of the court at any time after age 13 
  • Court declared the student an emancipated minor 
  • Court declared that the student is in a legal guardianship 
  • Student has been declared an unaccompanied homeless youth at any time after July 1, 2011 
  • Student has been declared self-supporting and at risk of being homeless 

Note: Parents are not required to pay the expected family contribution. Providing income information on the FAFSA does obligate parents to support the student in any way. If parents refuse to provide financial information, students may submit the FAFSA without it, however this will severely limit the student's ability to use financial aid funding to pay for college.