Why Families Should Consider a Community College

Consider a Community CollegeConsider A Community College

I just completed reading a recent article on why families should consider a community college. After reflecting on it I was motivated to blog some benefits of community colleges and why families should consider them in the student’s first and second year in college.

  1. The first one is obvious. The cost. Community colleges cost thousands of dollars less than a 4-year state university or private college.
  2. Second, over the years many states have produced excellent community colleges that allows students to take quality classes that will transfer to a 4-year school (as a Minnesotan, I am proud to say that we have some of the best community colleges in the nation).
  3. Third, by attending a community college, it allows many students you wish to be close to home to do so.

In summary, a community college should be a consideration for many families especially when the cost is a major factor.

Read the original article here.
http://www.latimes.com/socal/daily-pilot/opinion/tn-dpt-me-commentary-20180119-story.html

Why Hire A College Financial Aid Consultant in 2018?

Why Hire A College Financial Aid Consultant in 2018?

Why Hire A college financial aid consultant in 2018? Now that the new year has now arrived and many families are in the process of filing their FAFSAs and CSS Profiles to obtain financial aid it motivates me to opine on one of my favorite topics.

Occasionally as college financial aid consultant, I am asked, why should I retain you when I can do it on my own or get help from the high school? My answer is always the same. Yes, you can do it on your own. However, what results do you want in your attempt to obtain more free money? Average or optimum? For example, the majority of CSS Profiles and FAFSAs that I review for parents will find mistakes they have made. Another example, how will the family know if the initial financial aid offer is a fair one? FYI, many are not.

If the bottom line is if the cost of college is a factor for your family, you need an expert. It is common sense here. The family is left at the mercy of two people in the process, the high school guidance person (who is not an expert about anything regarding financial aid) and the college. If would like more common sense advice regarding how to approach the financial aid process and make it work for you, contact our office.

Best Tips For Free Money For College Grant & Scholarships

Best Tips For Free Money For College Grants & Scholarships

I recently had the opportunity to speak to Christy Rakoczy of Student Loan Hero on the best tips for free money for college grants & scholarships. My most important advice here, start early!

College Aid Consulting Services has been lowering the out of pocket cost for college for 25 years. If you would like to take advantage of our free consulting offer please contact us to get started.

“Plenty of students find scholarships and grants. In fact, college students received a total of $125.4 billion in grant money during the 2016-17 academic year, according to College Board.”

Read the full articles at Student Loan Hero
Free Money For College Grants & Scholarships

Waitlisted For Your Top College Choice What’s Next?

Waitlisted For Your Top College Choice

You had hoped the admissions process would be over by now, but you have been waitlisted for your top college choice. What do you do now?

33% of colleges and universities use waitlists. These lists are effectively the colleges’ back up plans. They have a number in mind of how many freshmen they want to admit. The colleges also know that not all students will accept their invitations to join their student bodies. So the waitlists are there to fill the gap.

Approximately 10% of student s who apply to a college with a waitlist will wind up on the list. Out of those 10%, 20% of them will get off the waitlist and get into the college.

So here’s your first lesson about being waitlisted. Unfortunately, the odds are stacked against you. You only have a 1 in 5 chance of getting off that waitlist. So if you’re serious about and you really want to get into that school, then you better do some work to improve your chances.

1. The student makes all contact with the college.

First things first… Mom and Dad need to stay out of this process. Here’s a bit of trivia for you…

Out of all the communication that a typical admissions office receives:

  • 85% comes from parents of prospective students
  • 10% comes from high school guidance counselors
  • 5% comes from the students themselves

Only 5% of all communication comes from the students! Do you realize that one of the most effective ways for your student to stand out amongst the thousands of applicants is to be one of the very few students who contact the admissions department themselves? This is the first key to getting off the waitlist. The student should be making all the contact with the college.

2. Decide whether or not to pursue the waitlisted school or schools.

This is an important step, and can easily get overlooked, so answer this big question now.  Take stock and determine if you really want to remain on the waitlist. Is the school that much more desirable than their second or third choice which has already admitted them? Do you want to hang on to the chance they would get in? Since most of the financial resources will have long before been allocated and history shows you are not likely to get a generous award.  If lowering the out of pocket cost is important, it’s worth taking a serious look if you should take the money being offered by one of the other schools.

3. What’s your backup plan?

Third… You and your student need to formulate their backup plan. Remember, only 20% of students get off the waitlist. Also keep in mind that most colleges require you to make a yes or no decision by May 1st. There is a very high likelihood that you will not hear anything about getting off the waitlist until July or August. So you must have a backup plan.

Pick one of the other schools you have already been accepted to, hopefully one with a generous financial aid offer, and send in your confirmation and deposits. You need to pursue your backup plan school as if you will be there in the fall. Then if your first choice school comes through and you get off the waitlist; you can let your backup know and change course. Of course, you have to be willing to give up your deposits at the backup school.

Do not pass up this step. You must have a backup plan. Don’t start telling yourself, “well that doesn’t seem fair to my backup school.”

4. Contact the Admissions office

Fourth… You need to contact the admissions office directly (you being the student). Ask them why you were waitlisted. Was there something missing? Were your ACT or SAT scores just a little too low? Were they looking for more leadership? Find out as many details about the admissions decision that you can without being a pest. Find out who the admissions representative is who has your file.

Now send them a letter reiterating your interest in going to their school. List what you like about their school. Is the location, the staff, its history, your experience at a campus visit. You need to present yourself as someone who is knowledgeable and a good fit for their university.

5. Follow up with the College

Fifth… You need to be following up with the college as you are able to provide them with important information which will cast you in a good light and help them make their decisions. Here are some good reasons to contact your admissions rep and update them:

  • Your ACT or SAT score went up measurably
  • Your GPA has improved
  • You have just received a school or community award.

This is not the time to Twitter your admissions counselor to death. They don’t care who you went to prom with. They don’t care that you’re going on a really cool senior trip. And they don’t care that your group won the high school battle of the bands.

You want to provide them relevant information.

6. Don’t Obsess over the Waitlist

If you’ve put together a well thought out admissions plan, you should have several other schools who have already accepted you. You are just as likely to have a great college experience at those schools as you are at your first choice school. So don’t worry about it. Get on with the rest of your Senior year and have some fun!

If you would like a complimentary financial aid evaluation, please contact our office.

Recommended Resource: 100+ Scholarships for International Students

Scholarships for International Students

The Simple Dollar reached out to me for their list of “100+ Scholarships for International Students” resource. They wanted to see what advice I could offer international students looking scholarships and financial aid.  While I offered a number of different suggestion based on my 26 years of experience, they choose to focus on my dos and don’ts for international students applying for scholarships.

If you are an international student I highly recommend you read “100+ Scholarships for International Students” as part of your search to lower the cost of the education.

100+ Scholarships for International Students (2017-18)

Women, Education & Scholarships

women education and scholarships

US News & World report reached out to me for my thoughts on women, education & scholarships. Women should definitely explore their options.  If you want professional assistance please contact our office. We have 26 years of experience helping make college more affordable.

Read the article Scholarships for Women Abound
https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/paying-for-college/articles/2017-09-28/scholarships-for-women-abound

2018 CSS Profile Filing Is Soon Approaching, What You Need To Know

css profile 2017Like the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), Families can file the CSS Profile as early as Oct. 1 for the 2018-19 academic year.

What you need to know: Like FAFSA, each college will have their own deadline which could be as early as Nov. 1 and will vary from school to school. Unfortunately some families don’t know about the Profile that is required at many colleges. Every year we talk to parents that say that they have no knowledge of the form and in some cases they have missed the deadline. If the college does require Profile, they will use it solely to determined how much institutional gift-aid (grants) the student will receive, not FAFSA.

Another important fact that parents should know is that unlike FAFSA, the CSS Profile is not mandated. Therefore the Profile will ask for considerable more personal information compared to FAFSA resulting in less financial aid for many families.

If you would like more information on how to properly deal with the Profile, please contact one of our staff.

2018 FAFSA Filing Is Approaching, What You Need To Know

2018 FAFSA Filing

The 2018 FAFSA filing is approaching here is what you need to know. Like for the current academic year, families can file the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as early as Oct. 1 (instead of Jan. 1 as families have done in the past) for the upcoming 2018 -19 school year.

What you need to know: Each college will have their own deadline and will vary from school to school and some deadlines can be as early as Nov. 1 and as late as of Apr. 1. The second deadline is determined by the family’s home state. Starting Oct. 1, families can check their state’s deadline here. Some states have hard deadlines and other states have suggested deadlines to make sure you get priority consideration for college money. There’s also a group of states that offer first-come, first-served financial aid.

If you would like more information on FAFSA and how to properly file your financial aid forms, please contact our office.

10 Ways To Secure A College Tuition Discount

College Tuition Discount

It was a pleasure to speak to Farran Powell with US News & World Report about 10 ways to secure a college tuition discount. Unfortunately many parents and students don’t even think about asking for one. Families should always ask for a tuition discount or waiver especially if they are dealing with special circumstances. If you would like more information on this topic contact, one of our staff.

10 Ways To Get A Tuition Discount
US News & World Report

 

5 Facts Parents Need To Know About Student Loans

Here are 5 facts parents need to know about student loans.  I want to first mention the drawbacks of a private student loans that may include the interest is often variable, less flexible repayment options, the student may have to start making payments while they are still in school, there is a higher limit on lending which will mean the student will be paying more interest, the loan will be dependent on the student’s credit score, and if the lender requires a co-signer, the student may be putting that person at financial risk.

  1. Borrow only what you need.
  2. Be clear in what you are signing.
  3. Know the differences between subsidized and unsubsidized Federal loans.
  4. Never turn down a subsidized loan.
  5. Shop around at local banks and credit unions to learn what they have to offer in private loans before utilizing any unsubsidized Federal Direct Stafford loan. Why? Friendly terms! Over the last 2-3 years I have been learning from some of our clients that they have secured a private loan with a lower interest rate then a Federal loan. For example, I talked to a client recently that retained a private loan at a 3% rate.

If you need more advice about student loans, financial aid, FAFSA, CSS Profile or scholarships please don’t hesitate to contact our office.  We offer a complimentary consultation to see if our service would be a fit and help your family reduce the out of pocket cost of college.

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