April Showers

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.

Acceptance Letters

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.

Comparing Offers

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:

  1. Understand college costs and how to pay the bill.
  2. Which college options might be the best for my Student.
  3. Responsibilities, who will do what when.
  4. Defining the Admissions and Financial Aid Strategy
  5. Developing a relationship with a college.
  6. 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.

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Looking Forward….……as of today

Looking Forward….……as of today

Thanksgiving Week, No Time to Pause the College Planning Button

 

The Fall is usually an exciting month for high school & college students as they return to the classroom and campus activities.  This year, life is just a little different. Covid-19 and its domino effects on the education system,  social interaction, and athletics programs have made for a very turbulent and stressful time. As a parent of four, now working adults, I continue to ask myself, what if I was parenting right now. What would I do? Answer- keep to the plan moving forward.

Sticking to the plan, one focused on goals and expectations, is the best medicine for dealing with uncertainty.  High school and college-age students and those who recently entered the workforce are better equipped to pivot and adjust when dealing with the unexpected before, during, and after college. Here are a few time-sensitive tasks and action items that should be part of this month’s plan.

HS Seniors

  • Deadlines – Application deadlines for high school seniors is now upon us. Admissions and financial aid applications are available, ready for completion and submissions. Getting in and paying for college are driven by two essential applications, the Common App and the FAFSA. Each critical, each requiring time and attention to be completed and filed timely.
    • Students electing to apply EARLY should have sent in their Common Application by now. Students who are holding off or still making their final choices are now looking at December 1- through February 1, 2021 deadlines.

NOTE: Colleges are waiting for applications; if ready, don’t wait for future deadlines-file them now.

  • The FAFSA, the Free Application for Student Aid, should be completed and submitted as early as possible. The Application launches the process of determining a student and family’s eligibility for need-based financial aid. Aid provided from sources including colleges and universities, federal and state, and external sources (employers, civic/community/philanthropic organizations).

Note: All students with an eye on attending college in September of 2021 need to complete the FAFSA.

  • Compare and Evaluate – a continuous process that leads to making a final college selection. For some students and their families, it is immediate; for others, additional time to analyze offers before saying yes. The process can include revisiting a campus, the academic curriculum, and the student life scene, which might change one’s perception and impact one’s goals and expectations over time. Evaluating and questioning is common and can be healthy. A life change event like enrolling in college should answer the question, is this the right one for me? Academic, social, emotional, and financial. Will the college I select set me on my path? Deposit Day is May 1, 2021.

HS Juniors

  • Prequalification before Shopping – the college lists are ready, but how many students and families have evaluated the cost. College is expensive, ranging from $116,000 to $215,000, public and private in-state. Such a big-ticket purchase should first begin with a simple prequalification. Sticker price minus tuition assistance equals the net cost to the student and their family. Dreaming I can get in and hoping I can pay is a recipe for trouble, financial trouble.
  • Evaluating during a pandemic – traditional meet and greet and campus tours are out. Virtual tours, self-guided campus visits are now the play of the day. However, we will return to actual campus visits sometime this Spring, and current juniors and their parents need to be ready. Ready with their top options and the hardcore questions to be asking when finally meeting with college representatives.
  • Standing Out – Never has it been more critical for students to build relationships and raise awareness on college campuses. In these current times of canceled high school visits and college fairs, relationship building between students and college representatives is not happening. To stand out, students need to become a marketer, communicating, and engaging college. Texting, email, and phone calls are three ways a student and college representatives can connect. Waiting for college could result in lost opportunities for acceptance and financial offers. Raise your hand and say hello today!

Workforce November Checklist

  • Returning to School – COVID-19 might have dusted off the idea of returning to college to complete a degree, start a new one (BS/MS/MD) or add a professional skill. Institutions are looking to your interest and can get you started quickly. Consider your eligibility for employee reimbursement benefits, federal and institutional financial aid, or use of programs offered through MassHire and the Career Centers in Salem and Woburn.
  • Managing Educational Debt – federal student loans and some private education loan programs have been on hold during the CV-19 pandemic. But come December 31 and no additional offerings from Washington, loan payments will once again be due. Now is the time to evaluate the use of education loan refinancing to help stabilize budgets and loan payments, lock in all-time loan rates and help with the overall management of education loan debt post-CV-19. Resources are available to help with best practice decisions, including those through AAA Northeast.

CALMING THE WATERS – Are you feeling anxious? Have questions? Everything starts with a Conversation – Text, phone [617-240-7350], or email at tom@getcollegegoing.com  Follow me on FB/getcollegegoing  – Learn more at www.getcollegegoing.com

Looking for quality virtual (college planning) support during these uncertain times, Pivotal College Years, an affiliated partner of Get College Going,  and is making the College Planning Portal for Families FREE to EVERYONE until December 31, 2020. EVERYTHING college before, during, and after, in one place.

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

September Brief

September Brief

September 2022 – today’s high school Juniors – the pause button might be on as your student adjusts to the new classroom setting and class schedules. Still, I encourage you to provide time to talk about your student’s educational pathway after high school. If the conversation leans towards college after high school, click the button, and start the college planning process. Building and refining college lists, learning your family’s prequalified financing numbers, visiting college campuses (virtually now), and engage college representatives can be time-consuming. Providing time to plan and complete tasks will bring harmony to our already stressful days.

September 2021 –  there is no pause button for high school seniors considering college next September. College lists, campus conversations, and evaluation should be entering their final checklist stages. Here are three pressing assignments:

  • October 1 – The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is available for completion. All students (and families) considering enrolling in college in September of 2021 and interested in applying for financial aid must complete the FAFSA. Whether the student begins at Traditional Four-Year, Community College, and approved Technical and Professional Program, obtaining financial aid starts with the FAFSA. Read these helpful tips before starting.
  • Common Application, Essay, and Recommendations – All admissions application documentation and supporting material (art portfolios) should be nearing completion for HS Seniors at this time. Application submission for many schools will begin as early as November 1 (Early Action) and run right through to January 1 of 2021. Read important tips shared by Shelly Honeycutt, co-creator of Pivotal College Years.
  • Word on Test Score– if a student had the chance to sit for the exam, excellent. Consider including the score if it supports the student. If there is an opportunity to sit for October/November test, sign up and take the exam. If you can’t, don’t panic, colleges and universities know of the enormous challenges experienced by students this year. Press forward with GPA, rank, the other essential student differentiators!!

Today, September 2020 – If the current pandemic has caused a pause and the thought of returning to college is now top of mind, many options are available. Complete the degree started, tackle the Masters, or increase professional certifications through a single course.

Student Loan Repayment – lurching in the path of another storm is December 31, 2020. Unless there are other rulings from Washington, federal student loans placed on hold due to the pandemic will begin new or return on December 31. Student loan borrowers need to prepare for this change and if needed, investigate education loan consolidation or refinancing, especially if high-interest private loans are part of the picture.

September welcomes in the Fall and so much more…

CALMING THE WATERS – Are you feeling anxious? Have questions? Feel free to reach by text or telephone [617-240-7350], email at tom@getcollegegoing.com, or follow me on Facebook /getcollegegoing

Looking for a quality virtual (college planning) support during these uncertain times, Pivotal College Years, an affiliated partner of Get College Going,  is making the College Planning Portal for Families FREE to EVERYONE until December 31, 2020. EVERYTHING college before, during, and after, in one place.

Join the Student to College Networking Community

Join the Student to College Networking Community

Unprecedented. One word describing the perils of COVID-19 and being felt by many, including high school students and their parents. College planning, the experiencing of finding, selecting, and paying for college can raise the anxiety level for individuals working on the post-high school educational goals.

Placed on temporary holds are many of the events, activities, and ways that students and colleges traditionally connect. College fairs, high school visits, and in-person campus tours have all moved virtually. The Student to College Networking Community (S2C), fosters a new philosophy emphasizing the need for students to be proactive in marketing their interests and talents to college options.

Your Homework

Understanding Enrollment Goals & Needs– Matching student applicants is an art but more of business—the business of attracting students (families) who can meet specific enrollment needs and goals. Schools work to address their Needs that include majors, housing, academic profiles, extra-curricular programs, and socio-economic households. Goals look at the big picture; long term needs affecting revenue, alumni fundraising, and keeping the doors open. Knowing a school’s objectives are critical to the recruitment game.

Who is Recruiting Whom – The college enrollment game is 90% organic, with the majority of the schools relying on the submission of an application to gauge a student’s interest. There is relatively little recruitment. So why do students and parents think it’s the opposite? Glossy viewbooks, brochures, timed campus tours, and limited access to decision-makers fuel anxiety drive consumer behavior. COVID-19 has changed the game. The new playbook is now all about becoming one’s own marketing representative.

Simple Starting Points

  1. Build a Strong HS Resume – The accomplishments and activities of a student during their high school years are those to be showcased in the resume and communicated during the S2C process. In-school, community-based, academic, personal achievements from 9th grade on are vital. Individual wow factors that define a student are essential to showcase student talents and treasures.
  2. Engage and Be Authentic – Everything begins with a conversation. It starts through an email, text, or phone call, but centers on a discussion. People exchange pleasantries, get to know each other, build a relationship, and then discuss needs and solutions. As students and their parents work the college list evaluating possibilities, options, and choices, contacts across campus need to be determined and engaged as part of this new S2C initiative.
  3. 90 Second – When the call comes, when the email or text arrives, be ready. Every student should be able to answer three questions:
    1. WHY- Attend College?
    2. Who are You- Accomplish and Personal Characteristics; What Sets You Apart?
    3. WHAT is the Desired Outcome-Career, Job, Financial Security
  4. The Fit – Search for colleges and universities that match you. Academic, personality and financial.have a range but be realistic with expectations of competing to get in and affordability. There are over 35oo schools in the US, but everyone chases less than 20%. Be a different consumer and look for the unknowns. They might surprise you!!
  5. Virtual Communications – School administrators, faculty, and coaches are working like the rest of the workforce, remotely. COVID-19 will dictate how fast they return; its clear things will remain different for a while. Virtual communication, mobile applications, plus the use of texting, email, and phone calls, need to be part of a student’s college plan.

Checking a box on a card (in-person or virtually), registering on a colleges’ Admissions page is important but alone will limit the exposure a student has with a college. A new section of the college planning guide/checklist should include steps on how to stand out to a college or university. Differentiating oneself through their HS Resume and the way they communicate their value to a college or university can be the difference between getting in and earning valuable tuition assistance.

Whether you are a Student, Parent, or Educator looking for quality virtual (college planning) support in uncertain times, Pivotal College Years is making the College Planning Portal for Families FREE to EVERYONE. EVERYTHING you need for college planning in one place. COVID-19 Community Commitment: FREE Until 2021

Mid-Year Check-up

Mid-Year Check-up

We double-check triple-check our lists. We visit the doctor and dentist for annual exams. When the “check maintenance light,” the car goes to the garage.

As parents of high school and college-aged students approach the mid-year of their student’s journey, consider a few checkup items for a healthy second half!

Meet College Costs – The sticker price of college is now an investment that rivals buying home. Understanding the direct and indirect costs is an essential part of knowing how to pay. Can we, as a family, afford a net tuition cost of $10K, $20K, or higher? What is our debt tolerance? Parents of high school students should know their spending capability before students go shopping.

Parents of students enrolling or enrolled, are you able to meet and keep up with the costs? As a four-year financing process, anticipating payment costs in years two, three, and four is critical.

  • Applying for financial aid, completing the FAFSA is vital whether you’re going to a traditional, community college or part-time program. Don’t leave money on the table!

Hunting for Private Scholarship – Supplement one’s resources to pay for college—undergraduate, graduate, or professional studies. One might say it is time-consuming, but one will never know until they search. Email us to obtain a free Scholarship Guide full of tips and ideas to enhance the search.

Essay, Common Application, and Recommendations – All are an essential part of the application documentation needed when applying. Right now, it is a perfect time to write the essay and personal statements and start the Common Application. The new school year is going to be very hectic for high school seniors. Taking a few items off the list can make for a calmer senior year.

Searching and Raising Your Hand – Where will I go? How will I get in? Are you asking these questions? If so, you’re not alone. Campus tours and visits will return by the end of the summer. Is the college list complete, well rounded, and are you scheduling appointments that were missed this spring or forced to virtual? Do the colleges know you are interested? I bet not. If you’re not calling, texting, or emailing, they don’t!

Gap Year – 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!

Managing Education Loan Debt – Not to be forgotten is the recent core of graduates and individuals already in the workplace and managing the repayment of their education loan debt. The mid-point in the calendar is a perfect time to evaluate one’s ability to manage its debt. Federal loans will be coming out of their temporary hold in September, and refinancing of private loans continue to offer relief. Current loan holders should prepare for the return of monthly loan payments.

  • Employers can now be a great assistance to their workforce. New changes to IRS Business Tax Codes allow employers to use education reimbursement funding to assist employees in repaying their education loan debt.

Reopening???? – COVID-19 throws a significant curveball during this first half of the year. Now it is a process of monitoring how schools will be reopening their campuses. Modified academic schedules and dorm living arrangements are being analyzed, questioned, and reviewed, to bring students back to campus. Colleges want and need students back. Plan to return!!

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 complexing 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.

Looking for a quality virtual (college planning) support during these uncertain times, Pivotal College Years, an affiliated partner of Get College Going, is making the College Planning Portal for Families available to parents, students, educators, EVERYONE, FREE until December 31, 2020. EVERYTHING college before, during, and after-one place, one-click!!