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.

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.

January 2017 College Financial Aid Update

2017 College Financial Aid Advice

This is our January 2017 financial aid update.  This information is inspired by the last couple of weeks and the many families we have spoken to that did not know some of their child’s college(s) had a January 1st deadline for financial aid. The result, some of these families missed the deadline. One common mistake is that families will go by the Federal deadline for FAFSA, not the college’s deadline. Big mistake. In addition, families are being misinformed by various sources including high school guidance counselors pertaining to the financial aid process. For example, they are being told that the FAFSA is the form that needs to be filed to be considered for financial aid. For many families this is simply not true.

There is another form that is required at many colleges called the CSS Profile (please see my earlier blogs on Profile). If the profile is required, the college will utilize the information solely for the purpose of awarding gift-aid (FREE money). So if Profile is not filed or if one misses the deadline, the student will lose out on good aid.

The bottom line here is that families should not always rely on the system for the correct and appropriate information. These resources will not assure them of complete success in the process. What families should do is seek out a proven and trained expert. They will provide families with invaluable information, advice, and insurance that they will receive the best financial aid award(s) possible.

If you have missed a deadline, please contact our office for appropriate advice. In addition the next two hard deadlines at some colleges for Profile are Jan 15th and Feb 1st.

Positive And Negatives Of Private Loans For College

Private Loans For College

Our office get a number of questions on private student loans for college as parents and students evaluate financial options. We believe the drawbacks are as following:

  1. Interest is often variable
  2. Less flexible repayment options
  3. Student may have to start making payments while they are still in school
  4. Higher limit on lending which will mean the student will be paying more interest
  5. The loan will be dependent on the student’s credit score
  6. If the lender requires a co-signer, the student may putting that person at financial risk.

However, there is a positive in considering a private loan. 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 last week that retained a private loan at a 3% rate.

In summary, I recommend the student and or the parent should contact local banks and credit unions to learn what they have to offer before utilizing any unsubsidized Federal loan and should never turn down a subsidized Federal loan.

If you have additional questions or need information on how to lower college costs, please contact our office.

7 Tips On Lowering College Costs

7 Tips On Lowering College Costs

We all know that the cost of a college education is off the charts and for many families affording a college education can be a real challenge. Here are 12 tips that families can use to save money in the process:

  1. Compare housing options
  2. Don’t buy new textbooks
  3. Consider dual enrollment
  4. Get a tuition discount
  5. Attend a college with fixed-price tuition
  6. Utilize a work study program
  7. Graduate on time

Two bonus tips…

  1. Consider a community college in the first year or two
  2. Consider being a resident advisor. Many colleges will offer free or reduce room and board

Explore all of your aid options. With that said, parents need to be savvy when it comes to the financial aid process. The more they know about the process, the more likely they will retain more gift-aid. The more gift-aid, the less loans needed. Regarding loans, never turn down a subsidized loan(s) if offered and more importantly if needed.

Parents should consider retaining professional guidance. A trained expert will assure the family will retain the most financial aid possible. Also students should always pursue outside scholarships which will help to lower their out of pocket cost for a four education. Once on campus, the student should walk into the financial aid office to ask if there are any “in house” scholarships that they can apply for. Parents should set up a 529 plan early on.

If you wish more tips or information on how to lower college costs, please contact our office.

It Is That Time of The Year For The College Scholarship Scam

College Scholarship Scam Warning

With students heading back to college, the Better Business Bureau says scammers are using the college scholarship scam to rip-off students. The BBB estimates 350,000 students and parents are victimized by scholarship scams each year, at a cost of over $5 million.

Many students fall for the sales pitches of a phony organization that require an upfront fee to secure scholarships. They state that they will guarantee free money or they will refund the fee. Their guarantee is bogus. If you want to know why, please contact our office. Never, ever pay a fee for a scholarship service. In addition, we have tracked over the last 25 years the best free web-based scholarship sources available. You may contact us here to learn more.

FAFSA Changes 2017-18

Starting with the high school graduating class of June 2017, the timetable and tax year associated with the FAFSA changes 2017-18. The high school class of 2017 will be eligible to file the FAFSA starting on October 1st, 2016, three months earlier than in previous years. They will use 2015 Federal income tax returns (known as Prior-Prior Year (PPY)).

Take special note there is some uncertainty for the high school class of 2017. For example, the deadlines for institutional aid may change at some colleges. Also, students may initially receive estimated financial aid packages because college costs for the coming year may not be finalized and/or because state grant data may not be available. If this is the case, the families will subsequently receive confirmed financial aid packages. In addition, financial aid is based in part on the family’s income, and if that changes during that two-year period, the family could either lose money or have to file an appeal and go through a lengthy process to retain it. Instead of streamlining it, for a small portion of people, it adds an extra step if their circumstances change. Many things can happen in a year.

One thing that parents need to know is that they have the option to utilize their 2016 tax information to file FAFSA and the CSS Profile and they should if there is less income reported compared to 2015.

If you would like more information on FAFSA Changes 2017-18 and information on how to increase your financial aid options, please contact our office.

12 Tips For Parents and Students On Paying Your Way Through College

12 tips parents students paying way college

These are our most basic tips for parents and students on paying your way through college. Every year we consult with many families, single parents and even students who want to make college more affordable. These are the things we believe without fail you need to do to reduce the cost of college.

  1. Students should always walk into the financial aid office the first day they are on campus and ask if there are any “in house” scholarships they can apply for. Many times there are and students are not aware that they exist.
  2. Pursue outside scholarships keeping in mind that they should never pay for a scholarship service.
  3. Set up a 529 plan.
  4. Whenever possible purchase used textbooks and sell them when they are finished with them.  You are never going to use them again.
  5. Utilize work study on campus whenever possible.
  6. Keep credit card debt at a minimum and always pay it down on time.
  7. Choose the right meal plan.
  8. Set up a student checking account. Most of them are free. Keep organized regarding their spending habits.
  9. Get the right cell phone plan.
  10. Utilize alternative transportation.
  11. Consider being a resident advisor. Many colleges will offer free or reduce room and board. If the college is close to family or relatives the student should consider living at home which is one of the most economical ways to get an education. If money is short in the beginning, the student should consider a community college. There are now many quality 2 year programs around the US that will allow a student to transfer their credits to a four year school.
  12. Retain a trained expert in the financial aid process. These people can save families thousands of dollars in their 4 year education.

If you wish to consult with one of our fine experts, please contact our office.  Just like a great accountant for 26 years we have been experts in financial aid. We would love to look at your FAFSA and CSS Profile and see if we can help reduce the out of pocket expense even more.

What Is A College Gap Year?

mind the college gap year

Recently the term college gap year has been getting a lot of attention since President Obama’s Daughter’s Malia decided to utilize one with Harvard University. Many colleges are encouraging the delayed entry to give students the opportunity to build upon life and work experiences with a volunteer work program, part-time work, or travel and internships in foreign countries. Students have found that they entered college more mature and focused.

I personally agree have been a proponent for students taking off a year or two before entering college for many reasons. However, student’s need to know the do’s and the don’ts when pursuing a college gap year(s). For more information, please contact our office.

How To Avoid Financial Aid Awards That Shrink Every Year

Financial Aid Awards

Many parents approach me after their son or daughter has started their private or public school education and ask how to avoid financial aid awards that shrink every year. Assuming the decrease in aid was not do to financial reasons, here are some suggestions for parents and students to avoid the trap:

  • After receiving your financial aid offer for the first year and before you commit to the college, ask them what you can expect from them in the following years
  • Keep your grades up. If the student retains a high GPA, it will be less likely the school will play money games with your financial aid awards
  • Like the GPA, get involved with school activities and be an asset to the college
  • If the college is still playing the game, the student may want to consider one of the college’s rival schools. Many colleges don’t want to lose students to their competitors due to only issues to financial aid awards
  • The family may want to consider retaining a trained and proven financial aid expert. This person will be able to negotiate with the college to better their award

If you are like most parents you are well-intentioned in attempting to maximize the financial aid for your family without help. College Aid Consulting Services has over 26 years of experience working with federal institutions, colleges, universities and others that decide how much money you will receive. If you are reading this we hope you take advantage of our complimentary consultation and contact us today.

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