April is the gateway to the Spring
April marks a time when parents of high school seniors find themselves coming closer to the end of the journey. It’s time for congratulations and the push for a final decisions-getting to yes. There is also plenty of work still ahead for high school sophomores and juniors with eyes on the class of 2023, 2024. Scrambling seniors, transfer students, and individuals in the workplace considering a September enrollment (or sooner), April is your month too.
I’m In, What’s Next
Two critical documents now sit on the kitchen table in most high school seniors’ homes, the Acceptance and Financial Aid Award Letter. They are both tied to the conversation, I’m In, but each carries different but critical communications.
The letter welcomes a senior to the incoming class of 2021-2022 and congratulates the Student for their hard work. The content acknowledges merit-academic, performing arts, and other talent-related scholarships. Offers to join the honors college or a specific program of study may also be identified. It seals the deal-the ticket to becoming a first-year student.
Financial Aid Award Letter
Here the college or university will communicate their offer to assist with tuition assistance. The Financial Aid Award Letter outlines need-based grants from the college/university, federal and state aid, self-help loans, and work-study. Some external scholarships may also appear on the Award Letter. The Award letter details the net cost, also referred to as the educational cost gap owed to the school.
Eyes focus on the numbers, cost, scholarships, loans, and the gap. Although some offers look the same, many can be slightly different. So, how do they compare? Is one school heavier on scholarships while another has none? Or is there a mixture; free aid, scholarships, need-based grants, or self-help (work and loans) funding? As shown below, how the sticker price becomes the actual price may differ by how much the school can and will invest in you.
Don’t Wait for the Bill – Are you ready to Pay?
They will be arriving in July, if not sooner. What will you use? Will it be a monthly payment plan, alternative private student loan, savings, or a combination. What is the debt tolerance level if borrowing is the only resource? Knowing how to pay the bill is the final step to saying yes.
Getting to Yes
Ultimately choosing a college requires evaluating the Student and their family’s goals, needs, and expectations. The answer lies within five critical fits – academic, personal, emotional, affordable, and career-focused. The school’s educational and social environment must answer these fit questions give a student the right vibe. If the answer is yes, then were off to college. Send the deposit.
Sophomores, Juniors, Transfer, and Returning Students
No, I haven’t forgotten you. Your tasks and activities should be in high gear, working on creating and managing the college plan. A plan outlines who, what, when, and how to navigate the journey. The journey to find the right match for a student. Oh no, plan? Here are six core parts of a successful college plan:
- Understand college costs and how to pay the bill.
- Which college options might be the best for my Student.
- Responsibilities, who will do what when.
- Defining the Admissions and Financial Aid Strategy
- Developing a relationship with a college.
- Uncovering resources and put them to work for my Student.
Whether you’re a family three years away or knocking on the door, creating and executing a college plan is key to being organized, on track, and successfully navigating the journey of making a wise college decision for students and their families.
Consult an Independent College Counselor
Need help calming the waters, getting started, or just answering questions. An experienced independent college counselor can help parents help their students. They listen, focus on needs and expectations, and help students manage a realistic and holistic college plan. Plus, you get the peace of mind that a professional is on the team 100% of the time.