Ready – Set – FAFSA

Determining how to pay for college, all post-high school education programs is critical. Savings, scholarships, need-based aid, and other tuition assistance all play a role in determining how to meet educational costs. Financial aid is available to help supplement a family’s ability to meet the cost of attending a four-year, two-year community college, trade and professional school, full-time or part-time.

October marks the start of the application filing period and the completion of the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). This vital process is part of determining a family’s eligibility for need-based financial aid, including grants, loans, work-study, and many private scholarships.

Financial Need

Complete the form, hit submit, and the FAFSA® process calculates the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is an amount of money estimated that a family could contribute to the cost of college.

Cost of Education minus Expected Family Contribution = Demonstrated Financial Need

Many families may feel that the EFC does not represent their ability to finance the cost of college, financial resources available. For many, it does help illustrate the initial cost to a family and is an essential step in finding an affordable educational path after high school.

Affordable College Choice

As illustrated below, three schools with different or similar costs offer varying tuition assistance packages, including scholarships and need-based financial aid.  The EFC remains the same; however, the final net price may be different.

It’s essential to consider a range of college options. Each will evaluate a student’s interest and potential compared to their enrollment needs. If interested will offer their investment of tuition assistance in the hopes, a family will select them. The broader the range, the greater the options.

Determining affordability begins with filing the FAFSA

Download the FAFSA Checklist

Clues and Cues to College Planning

FINDING THE RIGHT EDUCATION TO CAREER CHOICE

The Fall has arrived, school is in full gear, and student activities are filling up the house calendar. It is the time for college planning. Parents of high school juniors and seniors begin the countless hours of managing their student’s journey of selecting the education to career path after high school. Stressful and overwhelming for many, especially for first-time families. Here are some thoughts that might help with the experience:

Create a college plan – dream location, academic, and personal fit, cost, budget, and affordability are just a few of the many areas of the plan. Financing, expectations, goals, and capabilities are fundamental to finding the right college choice.

Turn to resources – schedule and meet with your School Counselor – their role, expertise, and knowledge are valuable parts in determining options and how they will assist through ongoing one-to-one counseling and coaching meetings.

What’s expected – understand the rules, deadlines, admissions requirements, financial aid eligibility, and everything in between. How does a 4-year school differ from a 2-year, community college, or technical school? Be a sponge asking questions and inquiring why.

Learn about college cost – education after high school should be considered an investment. It is critical to understand how college costs differ, private ($56,000) versus public ($29,000), in-state,  out-of-state, and what it means to a graduating student’s ROI.

Cast a broad search of potential schools that match a student’s profile and aspirations. Draw on academic strengths, talent (athletic and performing arts), and personal desires to create a list of schools that challenge your student. Use online resources to build a list of college options that can be evaluated by visiting campuses, speaking with admission representatives, and learning about possibilities.

Seek out financial aid – should I apply, make too much money, I’ll never qualify are myths and misunderstandings—everyone tuition assistance, including the possibility of need-based financial aid. Designed to help supplement a family’s ability to meet college costs, need-based financial aid, when added to savings, scholarships, and other resources can lessen the financial burden. But one will never know until they complete and file the FAFSA – Free Application for Student Aid

Finally, communication is vital – as the parent of four and worked with countless other parents; communication is the key to finding the right education to career choice. Everyone involved needs to be on the same page, understanding expectations, deadlines, tasks, and the PLAN.

Download your free College Planning Overview and get a start on finding the right education match after high school!

Never Ends – Always Planning

Love July …. Although we have had a few warm days already, you have to love July. Time to kick back, grab some vacation time, walk the beach, or sit poolside. For families of high school and college-aged students, the summer offers no rest from the critical tasks and activities associated with post-high school and college-related activities.

Top Nine Summer Tasks Not to Miss

1 – Learn the Admissions and Financial Aid Process – whether your oldest and first or fourth like me, learn the rules, terminology, and your parent of four like me. The pandemic changed the landscape, but it is coming back fast; rules, and processes

2 – Map Out the Timeline – digitalize the checklist of activities, tasks, responsibilities within the household – keep everyone accountable; it’s not just mom’s job!

3 – Don’t Waste the Junior to Senior Summer – colleges are open for businesses, sign up, and attend tours. Get out on the road. Investigate, explore, ask questions and learn.

4 – Raising Your Hand – register, text, email, and call. Let your schools know you are interested in them. The college hasn’t had time to find you!

5- Start the Essay and Common Application – senior year will be hectic – start now!!

6 – Gap Year – if you were one of the many students who elected to delay entering college this year, make it a good year. But read the fine print. Be cautious. Each school has its own rules and policies regarding deferring, taking a semester or year off. Contact your school and learn the rules!

7 – Keep the Pedal Down on Scholarships – Every dollar earned is a dollar not borrowed.

8 – Be Independent – learn to drive, volunteer, talk to college students, get a job, stay active – middle, high school, or college-age, pick one and join your community.

9 – Increasing Tuition Assistance – two important factors guide this, your student, and the needs of a college. Understanding the dynamics of a school and why they award scholarships, need-based aid, tuition discounts, and other resources is key. Not the two programs administered by the Feds or even your state and local providers. Moving this and moving that, prior to understanding the college-student matching game can lead to unwise changes.

Social Media – love it or hate it, it’s part of our framework and many daily lives. For colleges and universities, it is another item on their admission checklist – post offer to attend. Right now, many institutions across the county are examining Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter pages of their incoming class of 2021. They are reviewing social media pages to ensure that individuals who have accepted an offer to attend have not crossed the social media line. I advise all of my families to be cautious. Don’t let eighteen years of building a solid image and personal character get tainted by one social media post.

Remember – No Planning is Poor Planning 

CALMING THE WATERS – Are you feeling anxious? Have questions? As a parent of four, I understand the complexing of planning a student’s journey after high school. If you’re looking for clarity and insights to your questions reach out. . No Pitch!

Find us, follow up and learn more at https://linktr.ee/getcollegegoing – 617-240-7350 or email at tom@getcollegegoing.com.

Not ready for an adviser in your life, consider the online college planning portal Pivotal College Years. A low-cost, robust subscription resource center at the click of a mouse or palm your hand. EVERYTHING college before, during, and after, in one place.- College Planning Portal for Families 

 

Planning Saves…

Planning Saves…

Planning saves time, reduces stress, and creates harmony within a household.

 

College planning is now upon us. When high school juniors and their parents begin the journey, they ultimately find the student joining the incoming class 2022 at the college of their choice. This is an exciting time, occasionally a nerve-racking time culminating with a student opening the door to their next educational experience.

When asked how to start, my answer is always, create a college plan, a comprehensive plan.  A college plan provides peace of mind to all participating in the student’s journey to find their right match. A plan provides clarity, aids with communication, and keeps everyone moving forward, supporting students in reaching their educational goals after high school.

A Good Plan Should Include?
  1. Tools to assist a student and their family determine their college financing capabilities and financial needs. College is an expensive investment, so students and their parents must be under costs, financing, and debt tolerance.  Information essential to the search and selection process, a process well known for every who has purchased their first home.
  2. A process to create a broad view of colleges and universities options that, when narrowed, becomes the student’s pool of right-fit schools. A group of schools checks the boxes for goals and needs and challenges students to exceed their high school accomplishments and achievements.
  3. Structure to help keep students, their parents, and other family members organized and accountable.  The college experience can be complicated and overwhelming, and for busy households, the structure offered through a college plan is essential.  Important for students with heavy in and out of school commitments, parents who travel, and divorced or separated parents. Surprises typically lead to heightened anxiety and frequently miss opportunities.
  4. Provide resources and tools to navigate the journey during unprecedented times. Resources and tools are both conventional and new to support a student and their family through the search, selection, and financing processes. Students and parents today need help with alternative methods to accomplish critical tasks in the absence of college high school visits, college fairs, and virtual worlds.
  5. The guidance and direction need to connect multiple components, and stages into one efficiently managed holistic college enrollment experience.

A college plan is not merely a checklist managed through software. It is an ever-changing process that must be easily adapted based on external forces, unpredicted changes, and the student and their family’s underlining needs. It requires open, two-way communication with participation at all levels. A college plan should spark questions and helps dismay myths.

Consult an Independent College Counselor

An experienced college counselor (can’t fault me for banging my own horn) can help a student and their family develops and manage a customized college plan. A plan that meets individual needs, expectations, and capabilities. A college counselor can cut the stress of the process considerably by layout clear timelines and ensuring the student and parents invest in submitting the strongest application possible. Using a holistic lens, a good counselor will connect all aspects of the college experience, finding, enrolling, and financing the right college to career choice.

Schedule a free consultation and receive a customized plan for your student and family!

Knowing How the Industry Works

Knowing How the Industry Works

Rank, GPA, academic rigor, test scores, sports, dance, and part-time work are many of the components that make up a high school student’s resume. As parents, we work hard to guide our students to become their best, authentic selves. We motivate our students with rewards if they work hard academically and become good citizens.

So why does a student with a stellar resume find themselves deferred or waitlisted at their dream college? Do they receive little or no tuition assistance, scholarships, or need-based grants if they are accepted? The answer is, it is not always about the student.

In a previous article, Pre-qualifying For College Costs, we discussed how important it is for students/parents to know their financial numbers before starting their college search. Equally important is knowing that higher education institutions are businesses. Not unlike students and their families, colleges and universities have their needs and wants. As a business, higher educational institution must manage their needs and wants against hundreds of influencers and business factors. Sometimes these are in direct conflict with the consumer group they are trying to serve.

How do these factors affect students/parents and their college choices?

ð       Supply and Demand – selective institutions are reporting dramatic increases in their incoming applications pool while others are down. Changes are partly due to amended admissions policies, heavy brand marketing, and continued societal pressures: But 60K applications for 3100 enrollment seats.  With over 4200 degree-granting colleges and universities in the US, students and parents need to shop as consumers and explore a broad view of all options, offerings, and possibilities.

ð       Revenue – college and universities rely on tuition and fees and indirect revenue from housing, athletic events, and on-campus consumer purchases. Swings in enrollment, on/off-campus learning, and other concerns due to the pandemic may result in belt-tightening. The financial status of an institution should always be on the radar, just like at home.

ð       FIT – is the academic, personal and financial match that all students and parents strive for during the college planning process. As previously noted, college and universities have their fit, which can mirror a student or be very different. Mastering the FIT can depend on how achievements, personal accomplishments, and authentic self-align with the needs. Results can be surprising and very rewarding.

ð       Costs – achieving educational goals within the realm of one’s financial means is the art of affordability.  Knowing how the sticker price becomes the consumer price is every college consumer’s challenge. Understanding the impact of tuition assistance, scholarships, need-based, and self-help aid is essential to the affordability equation.

ð       Emotional Purchasing – investing in one’s education is a personal and monetary commitment, a big one. Relying on information gathered, research, consultation with knowledgeable advisers, and yes, a time-tested pros and cons process a student and family can make a wise personal and financial decision.

The incoming class of 2022 are on their journey now. Students and parents are encouraged to create their college plan on realistic goals and expectations while keeping a keen eye on the needs, the student and higher education institutions.

Father Time

Father Time

If you follow dates on the calendar, here are a few to watch for as of today:

  • 37 days till Christmas
  • 43 Day till new Tax Year
  • 43 Day till the start of Regular College Admissions

We’re all waiting for December 25 with joy and excitement, even if it means Santa drops in through the virtual chimney. If you’re the parent of a high school student, 1/1/2021 is a day to circle on the 2021 calendar.

Christmas comes but once a year. We prepare some beginning before Thanksgiving, others hoping for good deals on Black Friday, while others procrastinate till Christmas eve and rush to find one last gift.

College planning can replicate preparing for a significant holiday or life event with many high school students, and parents are ahead of the game; many have unfortunately been procrastinating.

  • High school seniors who are still evaluating and considering options have time, but the next deadlines are fast approaching. The pandemic has adjusted many premier colleges and universities’ deadlines; meeting early Spring Admission deadlines can only benefit students.
  • Financial aid applications are another story. The timeline is now! Understanding cost, eligibility for financial aid, and the ability to receive timely notification of aid award offer from schools will only happen if the FAFSA, Free Application for Federal Student Aid is submitted now.
  • January 1, 2021, introduces a new tax year that will affect families’ financial aid eligibility for students entering college in September of 2023. That is right; a two-year look back is part of the college financing landscape. Parents of high school juniors, your base year 2020 is closing fast.

Our Thanksgiving feast is right around the corner; 1/1/2021 might seem like tomorrow for many anxious high school parents and students.

Questions? Concerns?

Start a conversation – 617-240-7350 or tom@getcollegegoing.com