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.

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.

Why Hire A College Financial Aid Consultant?

Occasionally I am asked, why do I need to hire a college financial aid consultant 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? If the bottom line is the cost 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.

Fund A MBA With Financial Aid

We get questions is it possible to fund a MBA with Financial Aid? The short answer is yes. Below are 5 of our best tips to understand your options for making that Masters In Business degree possible and more affordable.

  1. Research, research, and research. The more time a student invests into their search, the more options they will have to make an appropriate decision based on cost and other factors. Because financial aid availability will vary from school to school, they should not rule out an institution that has a higher cost. The good news, there are some decent inexpensive online programs available to fall back on due to lack of money.
  2. Schools will charge a higher price because they can. MBA degrees are more popular than other masters programs because of the downright demand for them and can quote the higher cost. Even though a lot of institutions offer the program, it’s still in high demand. Also, additional fees will vary from school to school.
  3. There are many good value colleges that are AACSB-accredited. Degrees from schools with AACSB-accredited programs offer graduates a return on their investment by providing them with the professional competencies required to compete and advance in their careers.
  4. The student needs to be proactive. Make ample time to search out scholarships. They are many out there to be had. Also check with the college for any “in-house” scholarships. Also check out Company scholarships. Regarding textbooks, check to see if you can borrow them for each semester or see if they can be downloaded. Check out to see if there are tax deductions they can utilize relating to higher education. A student should consider living with their parents which would be a great amount on rent. Regarding student loans, check with local banks first before utilizing Federal Loans. They may have better interest rates and terms which will save you in in the long run.
  5. Last tip and the big one, start saving early!

If you would like personalized help from Financial Aid experts please contact our office for a complimentary consultation.

Fordham University Success Story

Our client wanted my thoughts on their son’s initial award from Fordham. Based on the numbers and knowing what the school is capable of,  we felt they could do better and recommended to negotiate. After the college received a letter we drafted, they increase the 2nd award by $3,500 of a Fordham Grant for the first year.  Contact our offices if we can give you a complimentary review of your financial aid offer.

Fordham-Updated-Offer Fordham-Original-Offer

Five Tips On How To Transfer Colleges Effectively

We get a few questions every semester from students and parents interested in the details of transferring their financial aid to a new and different college or university.  Below are some of the most common pieces of advice we offer.  If you think your financial aid position might have changed please contact our offices for a complimentary consultation.

  1. Make sure that all of your credits will transfer or you may have to repeat the course(s) you have already taken
  2. After checking out course transfers, inquire about financial aid packages. Not all colleges will offer generous awards
  3. Ask about “in house” scholarships at your new school that you may qualify for
  4. Ask the admission office for an application fee waiver. FYI, many colleges will have earlier application deadlines
  5. Student loans do not transfer so resubmit your FAFSA immediately.

Multiple 529 Plans For College Financial Planning

I was recently ask a question regarding multiple 529 plans.

As a general rule, I don’t recommend parents should utilize multiple plans. However there are occasions that call for multiple 529 plans:

  • If your children are more than a couple of years apart in age, you will most likely have different investment objectives for their college savings. You may decide that one particular 529 plan has better equity-weighted investments (suitable for a young child) while a different 529 plan is more attractive for its conservative options (suitable for an older child).
  • If you have a sense of which particular schools, or types of school, your children are likely to attend, the choice of institution may influence your selection of a 529 plan. This is especially true if your state offers a prepaid tuition plan, or if you are considering the private-college Independent 529 Plan. A few of the 529 savings plans also offer extra benefits for students attending certain schools.
  • If you’re simply not sure about your choice of 529 plan, you can hedge your bets by spreading your contributions among two or more 529 plans. You might also achieve some more diversification in your investments by doing so, at least in regard to the fund managers handling your college savings.

When shopping for a 529 plan, you should always consider your own state’s 529 plan, even if you ultimately decide to go with an out-of-state 529 plan. Special tax or other benefits may be available for using your in-state plan.

In some states, you may be able to take full advantage of a state tax deduction by enrolling just one of your children in the state’s 529 plan, giving you more freedom to search outside your state for a 529 plan for your other child. In other states, however, the full state tax benefit is obtained only when both of your children are enrolled in the in-state 529 plan.

Contact us right now for a no obligation assessment to understand if we can increase your financial aid and reduce the stress of sending your child to college.

We Review Grant & Scholarships Offers

It’s that time of year. Over the last two weeks excited students have started to receive their financial aid offers from colleges that they may want to attend. Unfortunately, for many students the excitement is short-lived. The reason, many of the awards are not generous and are not meeting the majority of the need in gift-aid (grants & scholarships). Moreover, some of the awards only contain loans. For our clients in one of these situations, we initiate an appeal process resulting in an improved award consisting of more gift-aid. Let’s be clear here. I don’t expect the college to meet 100% of the need. However, I do expect certain things from various colleges. With over 24 years of assisting families, I know what an individual college can offer and what they cannot. Regarding appealing an award. Many parents do not know that they can negotiate for a better award and if they do know, don’t do it correctly. If you need a better financial aid offer, contact our office for a no fee evaluation.

After The College Acceptance Letter

The USA Today article makes 5 good points. The first one is #1 on our list of 12 Things You Have To Do Before Going Off To College. Students should always check on the status of their FAFSA and or Profile online and call your school’s financial aid office to ensure their loans, grants or scholarships have been processed. If you want the complete list of our staff’s 12 things, please contact our office.

5 ways to start preparing for college once you have the acceptance letter
News Source: USA Today

College Financial Aid Bait & Switch

Many colleges who play the bait and switch game claim that they don’t. I am not going to name names here, however our clients who pursue colleges that do will know. With our 24 years of experience, we know what to expect from the majority of major colleges in the US especially what they can offer in gift-aid. If a family is dealing with the bait and switch game, there are ways to deal with it. Contact us today to learn more.

College freshmen need to beware of bait-and-switch aid offers
News Source: The Fiscal Times

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