Virtual College Blog

Feds Announce Move to Prior-Prior Year Income Data on the FAFSA

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In a victory for students and college-access advocates, President Barack Obama today announced that beginning with the 2017-18 school year, prior-prior year (PPY) tax information will be used on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
NASFAA -- along with higher education institutions, policy groups, and lawmakers -- have long advocated for PPY. Using two-years prior tax information on the FAFSA (as opposed to one-year prior information) will increase the form’s accuracy and give families an earlier and more accurate idea of their anticipated financial aid and college costs.
NASFAA has created two explanatory videos to help others understand this important policy change:
    ◦    a quick and simple video your office can share to help students and families better understand how PPY will benefit them; and
    ◦    a more in-depth video explaining why this move to PPY will not only allow students to have earlier information in order to make enrollment decisions, but will also give financial aid administrators some relief from mounting administrative burden and ensure they have more time to spend counseling students.
With the switch to PPY, students and families will be able to:
    ◦    File the FAFSA earlier. As you know, the FAFSA is made available January 1 of each calendar year, yet it is uncommon for a family or individual to be prepared to file an income tax return in the month of January. Under the new PPY system, the 2017-18 FAFSA will be available in October 2016, rather than January 1, 2017, and students can use the PPY’s completed income tax return.
    ◦    More easily submit a FAFSA. The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT), which allows automatic population of a student’s FAFSA with tax return data and decreases the need for additional documentation, can be used by millions more students and families under PPY, since tax data from two-years prior would be readily available upon application.
    ◦    Receive earlier notification of financial aid packages. If students apply for aid earlier, colleges can in turn provide financial aid notifications to students earlier, ensuring that students and families have more time to prepare for college costs. Notifying students earlier of their financial aid packages will also leave more time for one-on-one counseling with students and families.

To maximize the benefits of PPY, NASFAA will be encouraging schools and state grant agencies to also use PPY data on any financial aid application they require. NASFAA urges member institutions to demonstrate support for President Obama’s move to PPY by signing onto a commitment to align their own processes to match the use of PPY on institutional forms.
Moving to PPY has been a fundamental precept of NASFAA’s larger advocacy platform for many years, as it is a single change that will create a ripple of positive implications for students.
NASFAA has already taken actions to begin working with schools, the U.S. Department of Education, state grant agencies, and others to align practices and work toward a smooth transition. Within a few days we will be soliciting volunteers to serve on a PPY Implementation Task Force to work with members in identifying implementation issues, including what processes and procedures throughout the campus will be affected, what consumer information will need to be updated, and how this will affect our financial aid management systems. We are committed to doing all we can to ensure a smooth transition to PPY for schools and students.
Stay tuned to Today's News for PPY developments and updates.
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Why a College Degree is Important

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Check out this great article on why a college degree is important:

Almost 97% of Good Jobs Created since 2010 Have Gone to College Grads

Warning Signs an Online Degree is a Scam

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Over the past couple of months a number private schools have gone out of business, leaving students scrambling.  Fort Hays State University, a public, not for profit school founded in 1902 is one of the most fiscal sound university in the country.  Below is a link to an article which details some of the warning signs associated with schools that are really a scam.

Fort Hays State University Commencement 2015

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Fort Hays State University Commencement 2015 was a great day for all students.  Students traveled from many locations to attend.  The FHSU Virtual College hosted a Meet and Greet on Friday and a Virtual College Graduation Breakfast on Saturday morning.  The events provide a wonderful opportunity to get to know our students.

Here are a few of the news stories from 2015 Fort Hays State University Commencement:

To watch the 2015 Commencement Ceremonies:

 President Martin with Virtual Student

 VC Breakfast 2015

 Vc Meet and Greet


Yet Another Reason to Choose Fort Hays State University

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In light of the recent closings of two for-profit universities (Jones International and Corinthian Colleges), many questions arise about stability and trust of this type of institution.

Once a cash cow industry, for-profit education companies have struggled to overcome criticism of their costs, placement rates, transferability of credit, and the quality of instruction. Because of these issues, the University of Phoenix and Jones International University have lost more than half of their students in the past five years1.  Corinthian College’s network of for-profit schools once boasted over 110,000 students on 120 campuses across the country, but only served about 16,000 when it announced the abrupt closing Sunday, April 26, 20152.

Choosing a university can often be a very daunting task.  There are schools of all types, for-profit, not-for-profit, regionally accredited, and nationally accredited. What do these designations mean to students?  

For-profit schools are a business - that is they strive to make money for their shareholders They generally offer more associate’s degrees for entry level jobs than bachelor’s degrees that are designed for higher level or professional positions. They are often nationally accredited, far more expensive than not-for-profit universities, have exaggerated placement and graduation rates, and experience issues transferring credits to not-for-profit institutions3.

Non-profit institutions offer more diverse learning opportunities for students to help them grow personally and professionally, have higher academic standards, are more likely to be regionally accredited, offer more support for the student, and generally have a better reputation than for-profit schools. Many of the for-profit schools rent office space and do not have a traditional campus environment, while the non-profits are stable institutions with an actual campus and in many cases, an online presence4.   Many non-profit institutions have been around for over 100 years.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, more than 85 percent of all colleges in the United State are regionally accredited.   Why does the accreditation of the school matter?   Educational credit earned at a regionally accredited institution is widely accepted and transferable between other regionally accredited schools, while a nationally accredited school might not offer the transferability of coursework.

The recent closings at Jones International and Corinthians College are leaving students stranded in the middle of the year with no academic program, no degree, and possibly without transcripts.   Corinthians College has a lawsuit pending against them by the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for “falsely advertising job prospects”5 to recruit students and the Department of Education fined the college “$30million for exaggerating job prospects”6.

With the recent events in mind, it is important to really consider your options when choosing a university.   Sometimes, it is better to look for a stable, traditional college degree program than look for an accelerated, job specific program.  

Fort Hays State University has been here since 1902 and we will be here for you in the future.  The Virtual College at Fort Hays State University offers over 40 online Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and Master’s programs, and is highly ranked for quality and affordability by many organizations.   Visit for additional information.

1. 3/25/15 and 4/5/15
2.    Huffington Post 4/26/15
3. and

Adjunct faculty in FHSU Virtual College complete training to enhance teaching skills

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HAYS, Kan. -- Fifty adjunct faculty at the Fort Hays State University Virtual College this year completed new training classes to enhance their skills in pedagogy and technology. Faculty who complete the training courses are compensated with a salary increase, beginning the semester following completion.

Recently hired adjunct faculty completed Foundations of Online Teaching. This four-week course covered topics such as media richness in online learning, retention and persistence, last date of academic participation, faculty/administration collaboration, basic Blackboard concepts, and procedures for dealing with academic misconduct.

Experienced faculty completed Advanced Concepts in Online Teaching. This six-week course included content on discussion board best practices, adult learning theory, internationalization and teaching multicultural learners, rubrics, and "flipped" learning. Both courses included learning modules on state comprehensive university culture and FHSU culture.

Adjunct faculty who completed Foundations of Online Teaching, and their respective departments, are as follows:

Alan Moore Justice Studies
Anika Rohla English
Bari Courts Management and Marketing
Brenda Rose Teacher Education
Brooke Mann Psychology
Chris Dinkel Biology
Clarine Jacobs Management and Marketing
David Arndt Psychology
Donald Ashbaugh Management and Marketing
Eamonn Coveney Geosciences
Elizabeth Ashton Informatics
Elizabeth Dingler Sociology
Erin Kennedy Leadership Studies
Jason Southworth Philosophy
John Adams Communication Studies
Josh Jones Informatics
Julia Kastle Allied Health
Karen Burrows Philosophy
Kelley Parker Leadership Studies
Masyn Phoenix Graduate School
Natalie Bartlett Psychology
Nicole Purcell Psychology
Nuchelle Atkinson Psychology
Rachel Newbury Graduate School
Sharon Stroburg Management and Marketing

Adjunct faculty who completed Advanced Concepts in Online Teaching, and their respective departments, are as follows:

Arthur Morin Political Science
Ben Hill Teacher Education
Brandie Bieker Teacher Education
Brian Gribben History
Cathie Klein Leadership Studies
Chelsea Arndt Psychology
Dale Powers Management and Marketing
Darin Challacombe Psychology
Emily Pinkston Allied Health
Gennifer Marconette English
Hollie Marquess History
Jeremy Carlton Philosophy
Jordan Kroeger Management and Marketing
Josh Tanguay Psychology
Larry Carver Institute of Applied Technology
Linda Frederick Management and Marketing
Mandi Brous Sociology
Marcus Porter Advanced Education Programs
Marilyn Schultz Management and Marketing
Marsha Moody Teacher Education
Mike DeGrosky Leadership Studies
Mike Knehr Leadership Studies
Monica Dreiling Teacher Education
Tom McGlinn Teacher Education
Wesley Rathburn Informatics

Questions about adjunct training and support at Fort Hays State University may be directed to Nicole Frank at or 785-628-4291.

Adjunct Instructors: What Students Need to Know

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What is an adjunct instructor?

Definitions of an “adjunct” vary, especially as higher education has expanded to include hybrid and online courses. For the most part, adjunct faculty are contingent employees. This means that, rather than signing an annual contract, they sign a contract each semester based on the need for instructors in their fields of expertise. Some adjuncts are retired full-time faculty, who want to continue teaching on a part-time basis. Others are employed within their industry in the private sector, and teach their classes as additional, part-time work. Adjunct faculty members’ duties are generally -although not always- limited to teaching, whereas full-time faculty typically have research and service requirements, as well.


Does this mean my instructor is not a real professor?

At the university level, we generally describe anyone who teaches as being an “instructor” or member of the “faculty.” These terms can be used accurately for both full-time faculty and adjuncts. 

Professorship is different, in that it is an earned title comprised of various ranks, such as “assistant professor,” “associate professor,” and “professor.” Traditionally, these ranks are used when referring to full-time faculty. While people sometimes informally use the term “adjunct professor,” adjuncts are generally instructors who do not hold “professor” titles. However, an adjunct instructor is the official “instructor of record” for his/her courses, just as a professor is of his/her courses.


If my adjunct instructor is not a “professor,” how do I know that s/he is qualified?

All adjuncts at FHSU hold a minimum of a masters degree, and 30 percent hold terminal degrees. Terminal degrees are generally considered the highest degree available in one’s field. Most often, terminal degrees are doctorate degrees, such as a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), a Doctor of Education (Ed.D) or a Juris Doctor (J.D.). In addition, there are some substantial 60+ credit-hour specialist and masters degrees which are considered “terminal,” such as an Education Specialist (Ed.S.) and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA). 


How will I know if my instructor is an adjunct?

Most likely, you won’t know your instructor is an adjunct instructor unless s/he tells you. FHSU adjunct faculty are fully integrated into university systems and platforms. They have official university email addresses, and use the university Learning Management System (Blackboard). The course shells for your Virtual College courses taught by adjunct faculty will look no different than your Virtual College classes taught by full-time faculty.


How do I know that my adjunct instructor will be a good teacher?

Just as top-notch employees exist at all levels of most corporations, top-notch faculty exist at all levels within universities. While traditional notions hold that adjunct faculty are somehow “lesser” than their full-time counterparts, data does not reliably support this idea. In fact, a Northwestern University study showed that, where adjuncts were “well-compensated and enjoyed long-standing relationships with the university,” their students were more likely to take subsequent courses in the same discipline, and to earn higher grades in those courses, than students who took their initial courses from tenured or tenure-track faculty.


Fort Hays State University takes pride in employing both traditional full-time faculty whose degrees, research and publications make them renowned in their disciplines, and a diverse body of qualified adjunct faculty whose real-world industry experience provides invaluable insight to students looking to enter similar fields. 


Any questions about adjunct faculty at FHSU Virtual College can be directed to Nicole Frank, Coordinator of Adjunct Support and Engagement.



Berrett, D. (2013). Adjuncts are better teachers than tenured professors, study finds. Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from



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