Let the Games Begin

Are you rested and ready to get into the game?

Yes, fall sports are in full swing, but I am talking about planning for college.

Time to open up the playbook that will guide a family through the process of finding, selecting, applying, and financing college. September can be a busy month as students and families work to get back into the groove, and if working on the college planning process has been left to now, it’s time to scramble.

This month I’m dedicating my column to sharing information that families in 11th and 12th grades should be working on. Knowledge is power; The more you know, the less worry and stress a household will experience.

Every parent of a 12thgrade student going to college in September of 2023 should be finetuning their college planning checklist, identifying what’s completed, and focusing on what needs to be done in the coming weeks to meet deadlines for admission, scholarship, and financial aid.

  • Budget and Costs – first and foremost, if a conversation about cost and affordability has not occurred, stop and have it! What will it cost, how much will we have to pay, and can we swing it, year one and beyond? Don’t finish the shopping experience without a budget number in mind – we can afford $$ on an annual basis. .
  • Refining college choices – have you done the research, visited campuses, understand the who is a reach, highly probable for acceptance, or a so-called financial safety? What’s our best path – 4-years, community college, skilled training?
  • Essay – is it in draft form or completed? Is it authentic, and will it captivate the reader? Grammar and spell check? A well-written essay can be the differentiator and catalyst for acceptance to college.
  • Common Application – deadlines are approaching, what schools require answers to supplemental questions, when to pull the trigger to file, and should  we will report test scores. Some of the many prep actions to get completed.
  • Scholarships – is the hunt on? Many deadlines, especially national, statewide, and regional scholarships, are in the Fall. Don’t be fooled by the deadlines in the Spring, they usually only cover local awards given out at graduation. Download the Scholarship Workbook at Pivotal College Years to get a jump on the hunt.
  • FAFSA – need-based financial aid is an important part of a family’s financing strategy. Completing and filing the Free Application for Student Aid is mandatory.. Resources from schools, Federal and State agencies, and philanthropic donors (scholarships) require the application. The window opens on October 1st.
  • I’m I Known – most colleges do not know students are interested in them. Students need to be the recruiter, emailing, texting, and setting up a virtual meeting to introduce themselves, and their interests, obtain answers to questions and build relationships is critical. Don’t be shy!
  • Credit Worthiness – Finally if a loan may be needed to finance the gap, the net cost to a family, don’t let one’s credit (co-signer) be a deal breaker. Act now!

Footnote to 12th-grade students not planning on going to college. Your 13th-year plan can also carry deadlines, applications, interviews, and mental and physical preparation (military) are a must as part of planning for the 13th year-you need a plan too. Whether your goal is to attend an apprenticeship to learn a skilled trade, enter the workforce, or serve our country, you too should have a plan.

 11th Grade Checklist

It is not a clique when someone says this is the pivotal year. GPA, grades, academic progression, and demonstrating a commitment to activities in and out of school culminate at the end of the 11th Grade. The first semester of the 12th Grade is a bonus, but the magic happens in 11th Grade.

  • Start Early – time is your enemy if you live with the hectic student and household schedules. The months turn quickly, and the clock even faster. Sports, dance, performing arts, volunteering, academics, and testing can overwhelm a student. Busy schedules can jam up the best of plans. October is the kick-off month with all students subscribing to take the National PSATs. Once test scores are returned, most 11th-grade families get the college planning bug.
  • Building A List – but get it started – every student committed to attending college right after high school must pursue their own goals and aspirations, but with an eye on realistic expectations. Schools to consider will offer opportunities that challenge one academically and foster personal growth; yes, we can afford them! Start with crafting a broad list of colleges and universities based on a student’s high school resume/profile and initial preferences.
    • Footnote: consider substituting academic interest when questioning majors, careers, and jobs when running these early lists. It is less intimidating for a student as many schools allow for the selection of a major after the first year.
  • Need Academic Help – first marks tell the tale. Are grades from early tests on par or missing the mark? If so, consider bringing in an academic coach/tutor to supplement classroom and study skills work. Starting extra help in the 9th and 10th can bring even better results!
  • Get Financially Prepared – understanding college costs and a successful financing strategy is equally important as good grades and a student character. Understanding what one can afford is essential to the college selection equation. Scholarships, grants, and federal loans won’t cover the entire cost of education. The gap may be small or large depending on the type of school, average aid awarded, and resources available from a family. Students and families should create a paying-for-college strategy, including determining their costs before shopping. Sounds like the senior year, maybe – but you have more time.
  • Spring comes quickly – drafting a plan, learning the rules, and deadlines (scholarships, auditions, portfolio reviews), and prepping for when the snow melts will make for a successful experience.

College planning may not be considered exciting or sexy, but as the father of four and advisor to many, if you want to minimize stress and maintain harmony in a household, get a move on. Give us a ring or download a grade-level checklist (they begin for Middle School) at www.getcollegegoing.com Join our e-newsletter community, start a conversation or ask questions. No pitch or hock – just the facts.

Going the DIY path…. that’s OK too – consider subscribing to Pivotal College Years*. Designed as a digital portal, Pivotal offers guidance, tips, downloadable PDF documents, special topic workbooks, and more. Information, and assistance at one URL for families, before, during and after college.  http://www.pivotalcolegeyears.com

Let the game begin!!

* Pivotal College Years is an affiliated partner of Get College Going.

Mid-Point

We have reached the mid-point of the summer. We’ve been wearing our PFS 50, working, playing sports, walking trails, and enjoying outdoor dining at our favorite restaurant.
Like all processes in motion, keeping an eye on the college planning process is very important, even in the summer. Before you know we’ll be turning in our bathing suits for sweaters, and we’ll be in the thick of it. Take advantage of this time to make the Fall stress free.

TOP OF MIND

Tuition Bills – if the college tuition bill has not hit the mailbox, it will be there soon. The bill covers tuition, fee, campus housing, and meals for the first fall semester, with payments due by August. Before one can access their dorm, academic schedule, or meal plan, accounts for incoming or returning students must be resolved. Learn your resources, and put your financing strategy into action. Have questions; we’re here to share insights and best practices.
Add a copy of the Practical Funding Workbook from Pivotal College Years to your resource library.

Anxiety Before Departing –  first-time and even returning college-bound students experience changes in their behavior leading up to the start of college. Modes, conversation, and temperament change. Experts stress the importance of keeping students focused on work, sports, friends, and summer hobbies while finetuning the process of hitting the campus. As parents, as excited as we are, it is important to avoid overselling the start or return to college. Watch, listen, and support – read more

2022 HS Seniors – Still Thinking –  if going to college left you thinking of something different post-high school, you’re not alone. On average, up to twenty percent of a graduating class may not have been ready for college or had other plans. Work, defer a year, take on an apprenticeship position in a skilled profession, transfer, or take a few courses at the community college are all outstanding options. If you are unsure, cool, but have a plan on how and when to continue your learning! Need help sorting out the plan? Start a conversation.

10th – 11th and 12th-Grade Students – summer is a great time to explore colleges, participate in enrichment programs and plan for 2023, 2024, and 2025. Campuses may be in their off mode, but they’re open for business, tours, and a chance to speak with school representatives. Can’t get there, evaluate academics and campus life virtually and go in the Fall.
Examining financing strategies, drafting the essay, starting the application, and reviewing the checklist now. Use the time wisely and make the Fall stress free!!

Recent College Graduates  preparing for work and adjusting to life might include managing educational debt; federal and private loans are due to start repayment in November. It’s essential to learn one’s rights and responsibilities and investigate employer-sponsored benefits programs associated with your loan obligations.

 

2021-2022 – Over

We congratulate our graduating seniors, high school and college, as the school year ends. The Class of 2022 and their younger classmates have overcome unprecedented personal and academic challenges. They have championed through and demonstrated resilience and determination. Parents, educators, and members of the family support network, we thank you for the gifts you provide to the lives of your children and students.

Special shout out to Mariana, Hannah, Michael, Franklin, Brooke, Derek, Celeste, Jack, Cameron, Sofia, and Valerie. You are all going to be very successful in September and throughout your four years of college.

Spoiler Alert
The journey is still underway. Take time to break, relax and recharge, but don’t lose the momentum from the spring. Here is my summer 360-degree FAMILY planning checklist:

College Graduates

  • If you do not have a job lined up, look to your resources and network for introductions and help to schedule informational meetings. Relationships and contacts created through the likes of LinkedIn, friends, and relatives can make your job searching process quicker and easier.
  • Leaving college with educational debt means repayment begins in November. Use the early summer months to learn the rules of repayment and your loan benefits to effectively prepare to manage your loan obligations. Don’t forget to create your new financial and lifestyle budget.
  • If the following steps are a graduate school, find your path and start the application process (again).

Returning College Students

  • Take a minute or two to investigate your financing plan for years two, three, or four. Is it set in stone, or are modifications and changes needed? If needed, schedule a meeting with financial aid to discuss changes to your family’s picture and the potential need for more assistance.
  • Spend time researching scholarships. Yes, private philanthropic donors set aside funds for returning college students. Not hundreds, but maybe for you. Sign up for Pivotal College Years and download a copy of their Scholarship Workbook – www.pivotalcollegeyears.com
  • Need help academically? Hire a tutor/coach to boost your academics

Incoming First-Year College Students

  • Complete the tasks and assignments required by your college or university. Many of these responsibilities are explained at the orientation or found in the student portal. Final transcript, immunization records, course selection, and resolving tuition bill payments are some of your to do’s
  • Find a job or continue to work where you were during high school. Spending money will be needed during the years.
  • Tuition bills are coming – step back and review your financing strategy to ensure the resources you plan to use are still possible.
  • Keep reading and learning – especially for young men

High School Students

  • Rising seniors, you should be focused on perfecting your college list, kick-starting your Common Application, continuing your communications with your schools, and brainstorming for your essay.
  • New 8th to 11th-grade students, your focus varies but should include frank and realistic conversations regarding setting goals and expectations, the ability to finance college, and the type of education path ahead.
  • These are challenging discussions but a must. The rules for admissions and financial aid have changed. Understanding the rules and how they apply to a student and a family’s needs is critical.
  • Visit Pivotal College Years or your high school website to download grade-level checklists that outline the college planning process’s over 150 tasks, responsibilities, and activities.
Don’t Wait …. Show Your Interest
Today, college-bound 11th-grade students need to introduce themselves and work to educated schools of their interests and academic and personal talents. It’s no secret that colleges and universities purchase students’ names and information. Part of their sophisticated enrollment management plans to target prospective students. But receiving an email or glossy brochure does not define a relationship. Using digital and traditional communication methods, students need to step forward, build relationships, and raise awareness about their interests. It’s critical in today’s college recruitment environment.
Anything Else

Education Loan (New) Interests Rates
U.S. Department of Education released the 2022-2023 interest rates for the Federal Direct Student Loan Program. The rates are effective as of July 1 for 2022-2023.

  • Direct Student Loan for Undergraduate students – increase from 3.73% to 4.99%
  • Direct Unsubsidized Graduate and Professional students – increase from 5.28% to 6.54%
  • Direct PLUS* Loan for Parents of Dependent Undergraduate and Graduate students increases from 6.28% to 7.54%
  • The Origination Fee charged at first disbursement is 1.05% for Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans and 4.22% for Direct PLUS loans.

Keep in mind that the Federal Direct PLUS Loan is credit-based and not automatically available as it may appear on some college financial aid award letters. Although credit eligibility is considered less stringent, applicants can’t have an adverse credit history.

Add a copy of the Practical Funding Workbook from Pivotal College Years to your resource library.

Check out the robust online library of information covering a wide range of topics, before, during, and after college. Resources include videos, PDF downloads, Workbooks – College Essays, Hunting for Scholarship, and other reference information on everything college. College Planning shouldn’t be complicated, intimidating, or expensive.
Use PCY30 for a free trial – Learn more

For you, your clients, and employees!

You’re In – Now What?

The waiting game is over for many college-bound high school seniors and their families. The holidays brought added excitement as many received acceptances to be part of the incoming class of 2022, including the acknowledgment of scholarships recognizing students for their academic and personal talents.

WORK TO DO
The hard work of investigating and narrowing choices that lead to filing admissions and financial aid applications now turns to work that will ultimately reveal the final choice for September 2022 enrollment. The multiple tasks and activities that lie ahead for families include:

  • Comparing financial offers from schools including merit scholarships, need-based grants, and self-help programs (student loans and work-study).
  • Examining family resources, saving, monthly disposable income and the ability to serve as a co-sign if a private education loan is needed.
  • Scheduling meetings with faculty, academic advisers to confirm a school aligns with student expectations.
  • Conducting campus visits to ensure the campus and its offerings at application hold true today.
  • Hunting for scholarships to fill the gap in resources to cost.
  • Organize legal and medical documents to protect your 18 year-old student and the family

Jack Frost Remains
The Biden Administration once again has extended the deadline for the restart of payments on federal education loans. This pause in payment began back in March of 2020 when the nation began to experience the challenges of the pandemic. To help individuals and families who lost employment, saw their income decrease, the Administration instituted a temporary freeze on payments due from borrowers with Federal Direct and Federal HELP Loans, students, and parents. The freeze also called for a temporary drop in interest rates to zero.  The new projected restart is now May 1, 2022.

  • Private education loans are not subject to these changes and borrowers are expected to continue to make their regular monthly payments.
  • Borrowers with private education loans should use this time to investigate the benefits of education loan refinancing to lower interest rates and modify monthly payments.

How Will I Pay? – Year One, Two and beyond
Twenty percent of first-year college students leave after the first year. Academic readiness and personal needs are two key factors, but finances are the leading cause.

Ensuring that resources will be available for years two, three, and four is critical to ensuring a student remains in school and completes on time.

  • Questions that family’s need to ask:
  • What happens to need-based grants awarded by colleges for year one? Renewed or disappear.
  • How can family savings be stretched to cover four years?
  • If we need a private loan, will parents be able to serve as creditworthy co-signer?
  • Will there be disposable income to assist with incidental on-campus expenses?

January Planning Checklist

 Freshman & Sophomore
The second half of the year can open up major opportunities for the discovery of academic and personal interests.

  • Gamers, dreamers, and problem-solving interests should be explored through robotics, Skills USA, and creative internships.
  • Student-athletes, student-performers, with strong grades and a goal of pursuing their talent (sports, dance, vocal) at the college level should use the Spring to showcase and investigate the college scene.
  • Strengthen time management, organizational, and communication skills. skills and

 Junior Year
Families with an eye on college after high school should be deep into activities and tasks important to the college planning process.

  • Building a college list that reflects the students’ performance and capabilities now and that will allow successful growth and development.
  • Scheduling campus visits for the two hot vacations, February and April, plus weekends and when the schedule will allow.
  • Strategies for courses in senior year, national testing dates (SAT/ACT), and what to do in the summer.
  • Meeting and greeting campus representatives at school, on a campus tour, and through direct communication. 99.9% of all interested high school juniors are unknown to the college

Plans Don’t Call for College
Interests may lie in pursuing a trade, skilled professional after high school. We need your talent, but you too need to have a plan.

  • Community college to learn business management, accounting, marketing, and proposal writing can be learned through low-cost academic programming.
  • Evaluate your approach to transferring your current interest, credentials, and skills required and where to continue the technical learning.
  • The competition is strong and having networking and communication skills can also be a plus.

Turning the Calendar
A new year, 2022, is here. Parents are back to their routine, working, serving as transportation, attending sporting and dance events, and, yes, stressing. We have learned a lot in the past 18-24 months. Help the next generations to understand the importance of education, community, and maintaining a sense of self.  Help them find their WHY?

CALM THE WATERS – Are you feeling a sense of college paralysis? anxious? As a parent of four, having spent a career working with families, college and university administrators, I understand the complexity of planning for life after high school. If you need clarity and insights to your questions, tools to manage your work, or individual one-to-one assistance, reach out. Feel free to reach me by text or telephone at 617-240-7350 or email at tom@getcollegegoing.com.

 

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!

College Planning Paralysis

Over the past few months, I have been reading, updating information, and talking to parents and higher education colleagues. I must confess I am concerned. It appears we are on the doorsteps of another year of College Planning Paralysis (CPP). Coined by Shelley Honeycutt, founder of Pivotal College Years, College Planning Paralysis is a syndrome affecting families of high school and college-aged students. It is discouraging to speak with and learn of the sheer number of parents suffering from CPP.

College Planning Paralysis

Most family’s experience a mild case of College Planning Paralysis (CPP), missing a few deadlines, a campus visit, or a task that generally doesn’t cause an issue. Schools are selected, applications submitted (admission and financial aid), and students ultimately enroll. But in other cases, CPP can throw households into a tailspin. Relationships become tested and the mental and physical well-being of the family. Stress, fatigue, anxiety, and panic become part of one’s daily life. CPP can disrupt school and work performance. CPP plays out in many ways, including:

  • Decisions made on emotions, not based on realistic goals
  • Financing strategies that turn into excessive debt due to borrowing
  • Post-high school goals derailed due to attitude and lack of motivation
  • Enrolling in college because everyone is going

Tips to Avoid College Planning Paralysis

  • Start now – as a family, map out the post-high school goals and needs
  • Conduct an honest review of financial and academic capabilities
  • Draw up an individualized plan to follow; make life easier at home, school, and work
  • Include a checklist to meet deadlines and manage everyday tasks
  • Ignore external distractions that can derail wise personal choices
  • Learn your price point. What can you afford, annually and 4-years?
  • Learn the terminology – Expected Family Contribution, Net Price, Cost of Attendance, Selectivity
  • Look beyond the rankings and consider unknown schools when building a college list
  • Don’t be afraid to stop, ask questions, and seek guidance

As I mentioned in a previous post, the pandemic has changed the game. So STOP the College Planning Paralysis and get moving today. Understand the rules and processes of admissions and financial aid and how decisions can affect family budgets, long-term debt, and sound education choices.

CALM THE WATERS – Are you feeling anxious? Have questions? As a parent of four working college graduates, having spent my career in college and high school enrollment (admissions and financial aid) and marketing positions, I understand the complexity of college planning. I welcome the chance to provide clarity and insights to your questions. Feel free to reach me by text or telephone at 617-240-7350 or email at tom@getcollegegoing.com.