Media Ranking Of Colleges Effects Financial Aid

There is now a move by many, including colleges, that want to drop the use of SAT or ACT Scores in admissions known by some as “test blind”. Makes sense to me for many reasons. In addition, the cost of education has risen dramatically over the years and continues to do so. There are many reasons for this including one big one. Since the financial aid process is now so convoluted, families need expert direction in retaining the most for their children’s education.

College Rankings Are Destroying Financial Aid
Low-income students are increasingly paying for policies that prioritize prestige over opportunity

Students, Parents And Paying For College

I always recommend my clients to involve the student in the financial aspects of their education. Many times I have parents tell me that they appreciated my advice on this. They find that the more responsibility the student has financially, the more they appreciate their education and don’t take things for granted.

“Having the student borrow excessively will either force the student to drop out of college or graduate with too much debt.”

Contact us today so that we can start the complimentary consultation form and we can assess your opportunity to reduce the debt of paying for college.

Should kids help pay for college?
News Source: Tribune-Review

College Financial Aid – Be Careful Who You Trust

I just finished reading an article on financial aid tips and noticed some misinformation. The article states that some high school guidance counselors and teachers will help you apply before you even graduate high school. There are a couple points to take notes on.

  1. Parents and students should never ever rely on these people regarding financial aid assistance. They are not trained experts in the process. Every year I will have a handful of families that come to me after they have filed their forms that were assisted by the high school staff and found mistakes made.
  2. If you file the FAFSA before you graduate, it will be rejected. You need to file the form on or after January 1st of the year you will be attending college. In addition, families need to be aware of the CSS Profile. It is another financial aid form that many schools require with different deadlines than FAFSA.

Fill out my complimentary consultation form if you would like more information from College Aid Consulting Services.

Same Sex Couples & FAFSA

When lawmakers first created the FAFSA, in 1992, no state recognized civil unions or domestic partnerships between same-sex couples, let alone the freedom to marry. Ten states and the District of Columbia currently confer the rights and responsibilities to same-sex couples—and that number increasing.

Recognizing this changing landscape, the U.S. Department of Education announced a small but significant change to the FAFSA that will make the application a more fair, efficient tool for students seeking financial aid to help pay for their college education. Starting in 2014 the Department of Education will begin collecting demographic and financial information about families headed by same-sex parents to determine eligibility for and amounts of Pell Grants and federal student loans.

Each year more than 20 million families complete the FAFSA, and these families do not necessarily all have the same family structures that the FAFSA—with its roots in the 1950s—presumes. The announced change from the Department of Education simply brings the FAFSA up to date to reflect the changing nature of the American family. What’s more, because many states, colleges, universities, and other providers of financial aid build out from the information already collected on the FAFSA or are modeled after the FAFSA, the proposed changes will likely have a trickle-down effect such that the entire process will become more fair, efficient, and effective for all families.
Below we take a look at the changes to the FAFSA, what they mean for families with same-sex parents, and remaining issues for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, applicants.

The FAFSA will include language allowing applicants with same-sex parents to accurately fill out the form
The FAFSA currently uses the terms “mother/stepmother” and “father/stepfather” when requesting information about an applicant’s parents. Applicants with same-sex parents must then either arbitrarily designate one parent as “mother” and the other as “father,” or omit one parent from the form entirely. In other words, the current FAFSA puts these applicants in a lose-lose scenario, forcing them to complete and submit an application that does not accurately reflect their family structure and that is therefore inaccurate.

The department’s proposal will change that. For the 2014-15 FAFSA, the department plans to replace “mother/stepmother” and “father/stepfather” with “parent 1” and “parent 2.” This change means that for the first time the department will collect same-sex parents’ financial information in the same way that it does today for married different-sex spouses. These changes not only accurately reflect—for the first time in the FAFSA’s history—the existence of LGBT families; they also capture the economic situation of these families so that students applying for aid can get the support based on financial need without any bearing on their parents’ sexual orientation.

This change mirrors similar changes made by other federal agencies. In 2011, for example, the U.S. Department of State initiated reforms to give passport application forms a more gender neutral parental designation. Doing so required minimal changes to federal forms while significantly enhancing the accuracy, fairness, effectiveness, and efficiency of government operations. More importantly, this change effectively protects LGBT families by requiring both parents to ascend to a child’s passport application, ensuring that one parent cannot take the child and leave the country without the other’s permission.

The FAFSA will be a more efficient, effective, and accurate application
At its core, this much-needed change to the FAFSA achieves two important policy objectives.

  1. It guarantees that all families are treated fairly and equally in the higher-education financial-aid process. Without accurate language to describe their families, students with same-sex parents are likely to see their application delayed due to often-unavoidable inconsistencies. More concerning is the fact that some children of same-sex couples may not apply for aid at all due to the complexity and confusion caused by the FAFSA’s use of gendered language. What results is inequitable access to financial aid for students with same-sex parents. This change, however, significantly levels the playing field for these applicants. As Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in announcing the proposed change: “All students should be able to apply for federal student aid within a system that incorporates their unique family dynamics.”
  2. This change advances the efficiency and effectiveness of delivering aid based on need by not allowing irrelevant characteristics such as sexual orientation factor into the application process. Financial aid should be allocated based solely on financial need. Allowing other factors—such as sexual orientation—to enter the process results in the imprudent use of taxpayer dollars. In this way, the proposed change from the department would be a significant step toward enhancing the efficient use of federal funds.

But that is not to say this is the overarching goal of this change. Importantly, the change was made not to save the federal government money, but instead to ensure greater equity among aid applicants. Without accurate data on the LGBT community, we simply do not know how many families will be impacted by this change. We therefore do not know how this change will impact the budget in aggregate, since some families are likely to see larger financial-aid packages while others may see smaller ones with this change.

In announcing the change, Secretary Duncan said, “These changes will allow us to more precisely calculate federal student aid eligibility based on what a student’s whole family is able to contribute and ensure taxpayer dollars are better targeted toward those students who have the most need, as well as provide an inclusive form that reflects the diversity of American families.” With this change, if both parents are living together, both of their incomes will be considered when determining eligibility for federal aid. This will be true whether the parents are married or not and whether they are the same sex or opposite sex.

Remaining LGBT issues with the FAFSA
While the department’s proposed change is welcome news for students with same-sex parents, problems still exist for LGBT applicants.

  1. Even with this proposed change, antigay laws will continue to prevent the Department of Education from recognizing same-sex spouses or partners. Passed in 1996 the Defense of Marriage, or DOMA defines marriage for the purposes of federal law as the union between one man and one woman. This law effectively denies more than 1,000 federal benefits and protections to legally married same-sex couples. That includes the ability to name a same-sex partner or spouse—and often their dependents—on the FAFSA. By excluding certain family members, the FAFSA calculates an “expected family contribution” that ultimately distorts the amount of aid these applicants should receive.
  2. Transgender applicants face unique obstacles in obtaining financial aid. Transgender applicants often encounter problems when data mismatches occur, particularly with regards to a changed name or the gender markers on government-issued identification. If financial-aid institutions encounter data mismatches on applicants’ identification markers, this could delay the process of transgender students’ applications for financial aid. These data-mismatch issues can significantly impair these students’ ability to access aid. This is particularly problematic for transgender individuals that were identified at birth as male, as these students are required to register with the Selective Service upon turning 18 years old.
  3. Accessing federal financial aid poses unique problems for LGBT youth coming from unsupportive or hostile families. The FAFSA requires most young applicants to submit their parents’ or legal guardians’ financial information, as well as provide their signatures to successfully submit an application for aid. This requirement may prove difficult for LGBT applicants who come from homes where they are unloved, neglected, abused, or even kicked out because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Luckily, the federal financial-aid system recognizes the difficulties facing youth with uncooperative parents by allowing them to bypass many requirements to submit their application, while asking the aid officer on campus to override the dependency determination. Still, that option is not foolproof. Some aid officers on college campuses are reluctant to do a dependency override in any circumstance and more must be done to ensure all children—estranged or not—receive the aid to which they are entitled.

Federal financial aid represents the gateway to a college education for many students in the United States. Individuals with a college education have higher earnings than those who do not, experience lower rates of unemployment and poverty, and have fewer health issues than those who do not or cannot attain a postsecondary education. Built into the system, however, are inherent biases against families with LGBT members, resulting in the discriminatory misallocation of federal dollars based on sexual orientation or gender identity—and not on an applicant’s financial need. With the upcoming changes to the FAFSA, one of those biases will be removed, which is good news for families headed by same-sex parents.

Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, nearly all government forms fail to recognize the diversity of today’s families. Forms such as the FAFSA continue to use gender-specific language when collecting information about parents and spouses that preclude same-sex couples from being fully recognized.

The U.S. Department of Education’s leadership on this issue, however, shows that even with DOMA, federal agencies can take steps to help families with same-sex parents when the executive branch has the flexibility to modify government forms. It’s an authority that should be leveraged wherever possible.

Interview With Randy Meyer WCCO Midday Show

Listen to my interview with Randy Meyer on the WCCO Midday Show.  I talk about the current state of financial aid for families, new ways to get grants, financial aid and other assistance.

Important College Dates 2013-2014

Make note of the dates that matter to you.

September 2013
3 – LSAT Registration Deadline for 10/5 Test
6 – GRE Registration Deadline for 10/12 Test
13 – GRE Late Registration Deadline for 10/12 Test 13 – LSAT Late Registration Deadline for 10/5 Test 16-18 – NCAN National Conference
19-21 – NACAC’s National Conference
21 – ACT Test (Selected States)
October 2013
4 – GRE Registration Deadline for 11/9 Test
5 – SAT Test
5 – LSAT Test
11 – GRE Late Registration Deadline for 11/19 Test 12 – GRE Test
14-17 – NSPA National Conference 23-25 – College Board National Forum 26 – ACT Test
November 2013
2 – SAT Test
4 – LSAT Registration Deadline for 12/7 Test
9 – GRE Test
11-15 – National Distance Learning Week
15 – LSAT Late Registration Deadline for 12/7 Test
December 2013
7 – SAT Test 7 – LSAT Test 14 – ACT Test
January 2014
Remind students to complete FAFSA and submit ASAP to maximize chances for aid
3 – GRE Registration Deadline for 2/8 Test
7 – LSAT Registration Deadline for 2/8 Test
10 – GRE Late Registration Deadline for 2/8 Test 17 – LSAT Late Registration Deadline for 2/8 Test 25 – SAT Test
February 2014
Financial Aid Awareness Month
Remind students to submit 2013-2014 FAFSA 8 – ACT / LSAT / GRE Test (except in NY)
March 2014
8 – SAT Test
April 2014
National Financial Literacy Month
12 – ACT Test
15 – Federal income tax due for 2013
May 2014
1 – National Candidates’ Reply Date 4 – SAT Test Day
June 2014
7 – SAT Test
14 – ACT Test
30 – Last day to subvmit 2013-2014 FAFSA
Summer 2014
June 29 – July 2 – NASFAA Conference Order materials:
Refer to the GMAT, LSAT and MCAT for more test date information

Important High School Dates 2013-2014

Make note of the date important to you.

September 2013
National College Savings Month
6 – SAT Registration Deadline for 10/5 Test 19 – 21 – NACAC’s National Conference
20 – SAT Registration Deadline for 10/5 Test 21 – ACT Test (Selected States)
27 – ACT Registration Deadline for 10/26 Test
October 2013
Choose AP coordinators if participating
3 – SAT Regular Registration Deadline for 11/2 Test 5 – SAT & Subject Tests
11 – ACT Late Registration Deadline for 10/26 Test 18 – SAT Late Registration Deadline for 11/2 Test 26 – ACT Test
November 2013
2 – SAT & Subject Tests
8 – SAT Registration Deadline for 12/7 Test
8 – ACT Regular Registration Deadline for 12/14 Test 22 – SAT Late Registration Deadline for 12/7 Test
22 – ACT Late Registration Deadline for 12/14 Test
December 2013
7 – SAT & Subject Tests
14 – ACT Test
27 – SAT Registration Deadline for 1/25 Test
January 2014
Remind students to complete FAFSA and submit ASAP to maximize chances for aid
10 – SAT Late Registration Deadline for 1/25 Test 10 – ACT Registration Deadline for 2/8 Test
24 – ACT Late Registration Deadline for 2/8 Test 25 – SAT & Subject Tests
February 2014
Financial Aid Awareness Month
Remind students to submit 2013-2014 FAFSA 7 – SAT Registration Deadline for 3/8 Test
8 – ACT Test (except in NY)
21 – SAT Late Registration Deadline for 3/8 Test
March 2014
7 – ACT Registration Deadline for 4/12 Test
8 – SAT Test (only)
21 – ACT Late Registration Deadline for 4/12 Test
April 2014
National Financial Literacy Month
4 – SAT Registration Deadline for 5/3 Test
12 – ACT Test
18 – SAT Late Registration Deadline for 5/3 Test
May 2014
1 – National Candidates’ Reply Date
3 – SAT & Subject Tests
5 – AP Exams Week 1
9 – SAT Registration Deadline for 6/7 Test 9 – ACT Registration Deadline for 6/14 Test 12 – AP Exams – Week 2
23 – Late Registration Deadline for 6/7 Test
23 – ACT Late Registration Deadline for 6/14 Test
June 2014
7 – SAT & Subject Tests
14 – ACT Test
30 – Last day to submit 2012-2013 FAFSA
Summer 2014
Jul – 1 – AP scores available by phone, AP grades sent Order materials:

College Aid Financial Tips

Parents do not have to disclose certain information on institutional forms like the CSS Profile. Students should apply to at least six schools if not more. Students should apply to both state and private schools. All families should submit the FAFSA for all schools. Families should utilize Federal subsidize loans before considering private sources.

Watch my interview on Fox 9 to learn more.

Paying For College

Parents and students should be proactive in the process of applying for financial aid (FAFSA and CSS Profile). Do not miss deadlines. In pursuing colleges, parents should treat the process as a consumer purchase. They are purchasing an education from a business.

Watch the video below to learn more from my interview.