Be Wary of Scholarship Services

Be Wary of Scholarship Services

We can’t stress enough… be wary of scholarship services promising money. This is the time, many high school seniors have finished their college applications and are waiting for results. Parents and prospective students are starting to look into options and plan how the family or individual (father/mother) are going to pay for it.

Every year I hear from students and or parents who has paid a service to find scholarships, only to discover they are getting nothing but empty promises.
Some financial aid is based on need, while other scholarships may be based on merit, a special skill or even an essay on a particular topic.

Companies may offer to assist in finding aid, but I advise students to be wary of websites, seminars or other schemes that promise to find scholarships, grants or financial aid packages for a fee. The companies may promise a money-back guarantee, but they set so many conditions that it’s almost impossible to get a refund. Others tell students they have been selected as finalists but that they have to pay a fee to be eligible for the award. Advance fees often are a sign that the award is not legitimate.

Legitimate companies can help students find aid, but they will never guarantee results. However, parents and students usually can find the same awards and others on their own by searching online or going to the library. However, this will mean that one will have to invest a lot of time in the process due to the many worthless sources out there. We at College Aid Consulting Services have tracked legitimate scholarships sources over the last 25 years that are worthy of one’s time. We have testimonials from happy parents to prove it.  If you would like more information regarding outside scholarship sources, please contact our office.

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.

What Do Colleges Consider When Deciding Financial Aid Award For Students?

Financial aid awards have many factors that come into play at various colleges when determining how much a student will receive.

First, what is the true need of the student based on the formula(s)? There are one or two of three formulas that will come into play. You have the Federal Methodology, Institutional Methodology, and The Consensus Methodology that will determine the true need based on the information provided on the FAFSA, CSS Profile, and or the college’s own institutional form.

Second you have the academic side. Colleges will offer scholarships based on a GPA and or the ACT and SAT results. In addition, because the admission game has changed over the years, if a college appreciates the student’s abilities, talents, and background, they will be desirous for that student to be a part of their incoming freshman class and therefor will offer more gift-aid.

Then you have the leverage component. If a student was offered a magnanimous award from another school other than their first choice, they may have the opportunity (if done right) to negotiate for a better award.

If you would like more information on how to retain a better financial aid package, please contact one of our experts.

Do Not Make Mistakes On The CSS Profile

This time of the year I have the opportunity to review many CSS Profile forms for parents who learn of our firm and are seeking valuable advice. In 99% of the Profiles I review, I will find mistakes that the parent made resulting in less financial aid and more importantly less grant money. For example, I just reviewed a Profile for a parent that completed but did not submit it and found five mistakes that would of cost them around $12,000 in financial aid eligibility. Needless to say, this family is now our client.

As I have stated many times in the past, the Profile is an institutional form. So with that in mind, the college(s) can and will ask for more personal information on Profile compared to FAFSA and some of the information requested on the Profile does not need to be disclosed. Another point here in regards to completing Profile and all other financial aid forms correctly is the correct interpretation of the question(s). If you would likeus to review your Profile or any other financial aid form that is required, please contact our team.

FAFSA Change For 2017-2018

This is just a quick reminder of a FAFSA change for 2017-2018.  Students who are college bound for 2016-2017 could only submit FAFSA today January 1st or thereafter. Any students that are college bound 2017-2018, families can submit FAFSA 3 months earlier in October 2016. The so-called experts claim that this will be beneficial for all families filing FAFSA. As I opined in the past, I don’t see a benefit here for many families.

If a family submits FAFSA early and gets an early offer from the college(s) and their financial situation changes in the upcoming months into the new year, they will have false expectations in the realities of what they can really afford in a college education at a specific school. I only see a benefit with this change for a small percentage who need to file FAFSA. Moreover, the FAFSA will not play a role for many that are seeking need-based grant money from the college if the CSS Profile is required.  To receive more information on this topic, financial aid advice how to avoid the headaches in the filing process, please contact our staff.

FAFSA Change For 2017-2018

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.

Careful The Information You Provide On The CSS Profile & FAFSA?

The CSS Profile ( College Scholarship Service Profile) unlike FAFSA (Free Application For Federal Student Aid) is an institutional form. So with that in mind, the article is right in that the Profile will ask for much more personal information than the FAFSA. However, the article also states you’ll have to report more information. Incorrect, you do not have to disclose certain information on Profile or any other Institutional form for that matter. I have been saying this for years, the Profile (FAF in previous years) was created by the system not to hand out financial aid. The more information one discloses to the college, the less financial aid. If you would like more valuable information regarding how to correctly complete financial aid forms, please contact us for a complimentary consultation.

What Is the CSS Profile and Will You Need It to Get Financial Aid?
News Source: Money Magazine Online

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.

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