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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Get Prepared for College Financial Aid Filing

Parents of current high school seniors entering college in the Fall of 2020, as well as parents of college students who will still be in college next fall, should gather the necessary documents in the coming weeks to prepare for filing the FAFSA on or around October 1st. You will fill out the 2020-2021 FAFSA.

FAFSA is the Free Application for Student Financial Aid, the form all families should complete to see if they qualify for federal aid (and with the high cost of tuition these days, many wealthy families DO qualify). This is also the mechanism for getting student and parent loans, as well as some college scholarships. If you're still not convinced that you need to complete the FAFSA, please take a moment and check out these common myths concerning federal financial aid. 

While you can't complete and submit the form until October 1st, you can make your job easier by gathering this information now: 
  • Social security number for parent(s) and student.
  • Driver’s license number for student.
  • 2018 tax forms for parent(s) and student 
  • Records of untaxed income, such as payments to tax-deferred savings plan for you and your child
  • Current bank statements for parent(s) and student.
  • Records of untaxed income (if applicable).
  • Information about any business that parent(s) or student owns, as well as investment mortgage information, stock, bond and other investment records.
  • A list of colleges and universities (up to 10) to receive your FAFSA information.

The student and one parent will need an FSA ID to be able to electronically sign the FAFSA You can create a FSA ID now at StudentAid.gov/fsaid.

Remember, you do need to complete a FASFA each year of college, although it's easier after the first time. There are some first-come, first-served aid programs, which is why you want to submit your FAFSA as close to October 1 as possible. Here's a link to a downloadable book, Filing the FAFSA, that you may find helpful, especially if this is your first time filing or if you have special circumstances.

Friday, August 2, 2019

The Common Application is Live for 2019-2020!

On August 1st, the Common Application opened for rising seniors. Students can apply to nearly 900 colleges on the platform. While it is a fairly easy platform to navigate, there is a helpful guide for first year applicants filed with tips and best practices.



It's a lot of work to create a college list, work on applications and write essays. It may be helpful to look at applying to college in the same way you would if you were taking a class. Set aside a block of time each day, or several times a week, to devote to completing applications and working on essays. Summer is a great time to get a jump on this before the school year gets underway!

Friday, January 18, 2019

Are AP Classes Worth It?

As we head into course selection season, high school students have many choices. One of those choices may include AP (Advanced Placement) classes. Should a student take AP classes? If so, how many and which ones? 
Which AP Classes Should I Take?

There isn’t one right answer- it really depends on the individual student. 

The Advanced Placement Program is organized and administered by CollegeBoard, the same company that administers the SAT, the PSAT, and SAT Subject tests. High schools typically offer several AP courses. The AP classes contain college-level material and are designed to prepare students for the AP tests given in May of each year. Doing well on AP tests can earn students college credit or advanced standing in their future college or university. This saves two precious commodities for a first-year college student: time and money!

Colleges like to see that students are willing to take a challenging curriculum and that they do well in those classes. Since AP classes compare to college-level courses, they demonstrate to admission representatives that a student is ready for the rigorous academics of college. 

Successfully passing an AP class can demonstrate the student’s interest or passion in a subject. If biology is your thing, consider taking an AP Biology class. We hear over and over that colleges are looking for students who have demonstrated a passion or commitment throughout their high school years. Carefully consider areas of interest and passion for learning a specific subject. Review the courses that are offered at your high school and then use AP courses to build a profile that represents your true interests and abilities.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Financial Aid Season Begins Oct. 1st!

Parents of current high school seniors entering college in the Fall of 2019, as well as parents of college students who will still be in college next fall, should gather the necessary documents in the coming weeks to prepare for filing the FAFSA on or about October 1st.

FAFSA is the Free Application for Student Financial Aidthe form all families should complete to see if they qualify for federal aid (and with the high cost of tuition these days, many wealthy families DO qualify). This is also the mechanism for getting student and parent loans, as well as some college scholarships. If you're still not convinced that you need to complete the FAFSA, please take a moment and check out these common myths concerning federal financial aid. 

While you can't complete and submit the form until October 1, you can make your job easier then by gathering this information now: 
  • Social security number for parent(s) and student.
  • Driver’s license number for student.
  • 2017 Tax forms for parent(s) and student  .
  • Records of untaxed income, such as payments to tax-deferred savings plan for you and your child (if applicable).
  • Current bank statements for parent(s) and student.
  • Information about any business that parent(s) or student owns, as well as investment mortgage information, stock, bond and other investment records.
  • A list of colleges and universities (up to 10) to receive your FAFSA information.

An FSA ID, is needed for both the student and one parent to be able to electronically sign the FAFSA You can create a FSA ID now at StudentAid.gov/fsaid.

Remember, you do need to complete a FASFA each year of college, although it's easier after the first time. There are some first-come, first-served aid programs, which is why you want to submit your FAFSA as close to October 1 as possible. Here's a link to a downloadable book, Filing the FAFSA, that you may find helpful, especially if this is your first time filing or if you have special circumstances.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Common Application Information

The Common Application is now used by over 770 colleges. While the application doesn't officially open until August 1, 2018 for the Class of 2019 to begin applying to colleges, students can enter demographic and other information now and roll over the account when it opens. This will give applicants a jump start into the upcoming season. Here's a brief video about the Common Application and the new features for this year:



By the way, the Common Application is still open for high school graduates who have not yet settled on a college for the fall. There are still hundreds of colleges looking to fill spaces for the fall of 2018!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Be Thoughtful About Timing of College Applications

While rising seniors will hopefully spend time this summer working on college admission essays, many should also spend time working on a college admission plan. There are several options available for students interested in applying to college early. The advantage to these early programs is that students will often have an admission decision by the end of December.

  • Early Decision (ED): For colleges offering ED, applications are usually due in early November, with a decision from the college by mid-December. Students may only apply to one college under ED, and if accepted, are bound to attend that college.

  • Early Decision 2 (EDII or ED2) is in place at some colleges to capture those students who didn't get into their ED schools (or who missed the ED deadline). There is often a quick turn-around between the time a student gets a "no" from their ED college and the deadline to apply to an EDII school. Just like ED, students must attend the EDII school if accepted.

  • Early Action (EA) has an early deadline like ED, but students can apply EA to multiple colleges. While applicants find out the college's decision early (usually by the end of December), the student has until May 1 to inform the college of their decision.

  • Early Action 2 (EAII or EA2 or Early Action Round 2) generally has a later application deadline than ED or EA. Students hear back from the college earlier, but have until May 1 to inform the college of their decision.

  • Restrictive Early Action (REA) or Single Choice Early Action offers all the benefits of EA, but applicants are not permitted to apply to other colleges early.

There are benefits to these programs, but it is important to "read the fine print" to make sure the pros and cons are carefully weighed before submitting an application early. As always, the most important part of applying to colleges is making sure that the school is a good fit.

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Dreaded College Decision: You've Been Wait Listed


You've been sort of rejected for now, but maybe we'll accept you later...or we might reject you later...or you may never hear from us again….

Such is the world of college admission wait-lists. The NACAC 2017 State of College Admission Summary, reports for the Fall 2016 admission cycle, 39 percent of institutions reported using a wait list. Institutions accepted an average of 23 percent of all students who chose to remain on wait lists.

The takeaway is that students should understand that being wait listed is likely a “no”. Basically it’s a way to say, “We like you, and under different circumstances we would have said yes, but unfortunately we got so many applications this year that we are unable to admit everyone who would be successful at our college”

It stinks, but it's a tool colleges use to manage enrollment. Colleges are also reporting that they are accepting a decreasing number of students from their wait lists, and they typically wait until after May 1st to inform candidates of their decision. Most colleges do not rank or prioritize their wait-list, leaving students with no sense of their chances of eventually getting an acceptance from the school.


To check your college's wait list statistics, go to Big Future and type in a college name. Select “Applying” from the left column and look at Wait List Statistics at the top. 

Not very encouraging, is it? There are, however, some steps wait-listed students can take:
  • Keep emotions in check. Do not let anxiety or anger rule the day. Okay, you can crumple up the letter, kick the trash can, have a good cry, but then it's time to move on with some action steps. Remember, the college is simply managing its admissions. This is not a personal statement about your worth as a student or as a person.
  • Move ahead with the college search. Evaluate the schools that have offered admission, or continue applying to colleges that have a good probability of offering admission.
  • If you really believe the college that wait-listed you is your best option, send a letter reiterating your continued interest. You want to show that you are the type of student they want on campus. If you've had an improvement in grades, received a recent honor or published in a professional journal, send those as well.
  • Talk to your school counselor. They may be willing to contact the admissions office to convey your interest and to offer their support for your credentials. 
  • Don't stay trapped in limbo-land. Admission from a wait list is not in your control. Move ahead with other college decisions. You may ultimately attend the school that wait listed you, or you will head off to a college that said yes right away.


Saturday, February 24, 2018

Want to Get to Know a College? Read their Campus Newspapers or Magazines

Tufts Collegiate magazine




Visiting a college is a great way to learn more about them, but online research can be a great way to discover the hot button issues on a campus. Recently I learned about one campus's "disgusting dorm" and what the students planned to do about it from their school paper. I also read about another college's plan to take away the "free laundry" benefit and the students' protests in favor of keeping it. Try to pick up a copy of the campus paper while on a tour, but most are available online. Here are a few popular college newspapers:

The Bucknellian (Bucknell University)
The Exponent (Purdue University)
The Lantern (Ohio State University)
The Daily Tar Heel (UNC Chapel Hill)


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

 



 Yes, I know we are still in the season of winter, but students interested in more formal summer program opportunities will find application deadlines as early as March. Summer is a great time to explore some interests and learn some new skills. A summer program shouldn't feel like work, though. This should be a fun enriching experience and the great news is that there are options from one day to 10 weeks, from no fee to thousands of dollars,
from computer game design to building bridges in a far off land. If you can think of it, likely there's a summer experience for it!

When researching summer opportunities for your student, here are a few things to consider:


  • Is the program accredited?
  • How long has the program been running?
  • Who makes up the staff and faculty and how they are hired, screened and trained?
  • What is the student to faculty ratio?
  • What safety protocols are in place?
  • How are medical needs handled?



You are looking for a good fit opportunity, so seeing the facilities in advance, talking with previous campers and having clear expectations about what your student hopes to get out of the experience will go a long way in ensuring a successful and valuable outcome.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Common Application RollOver

Nearly 700 colleges accept the Common Application. Students can now rollover their Common Application information, which helps rising juniors and seniors plan ahead and save time later.

Here's a list of the sections that will roll over:



  • Profile 
  • Family 
  • Education 
  • Testing 
  • Activities 
  • Writing 


 Some things won't roll over though:



  • FERPA Release Authorization 
  • Recommender Invitations 
  • Forms submitted by recommenders 
  • Answers to college specific questions
When the Common App launches August 1, rising seniors and transfer students can log in using the same email and password to rollover their account. They can then complete the FERPA authorization, recommender invitations and specific college questions before double-checking and then submitting.