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!!

NARROWING DOWN YOUR OPTIONS- WORKING YOUR LIST

NARROWING DOWN YOUR OPTIONS- WORKING YOUR LIST

Everything Equal

High school juniors and sophomores looking beyond high school are planning for college or other paths while focusing on their academics and continued personal development. Seniors are finalizing offers, comparing financial aid award letters, and discussing the next steps at the kitchen table. Questions are being answered with visits to the guidance office, attending an accepted student day invitation, and speaking with former students now in attendance. Maybe the path after high school is instead moving into a skilled professional position or pursuing an Associates’s degree or serving our country. The process of elimination is in full swing.

[Insert the sound of screeching tires}

COVID-19 – Now we’re pivoting!

Normalcy may be out the door; however, sticking to the plan should still be the PLAN. Yes, adjusts are now required; the norm is no longer the status quo.  Changes and modifications are the new norms, but sticking with the script should be the climate for every household.  Normalcy will return with a few twists.  On-line and on-campus experience may split the interest scale. More students won’t feel pressured to go just to go, and becoming a skilled professional will again be applauded.

With a Plan in hand, college or not, students and their parents will be able to navigate the current emotional and personal challenges. The key will be how we adapt and seek clarity through the nose. While bobbing and weaving, the key will be for students and their parents to make their modifications but remain on track by executing their plan.

Everyone Needs a Plan

Know YOU’RE Criteria:  Distance, size, location, athletics, performing arts, courses, and affordability are just a few of the want and offers that remain constant when a student builds their college list. Students need to stay committed to their needs and wants in the early stage and when conducting that final review before committing.

Register Your Interest: Visiting a college or university website and drilling down to the Admissions page allows a student to register, acknowledging one’s interest in the specific school.  Welcoming information and other communications will follow. Students can inquire about particular areas of the campus, academics, and student life. You’re now part of the college’s database, step one of showing your interest.

Recordkeeping: Create a way of recording and retaining information: emails, e-viewbooks, contact information, and other documentation from schools under consideration.  When researching a school virtually, keep notes, and maintain them by the school.  As one moves through the process of elimination, one cannot rely on memory!

Your School Counselor: Work with your School Counselor. Today due to the COVID-19 concerns were all at home. So is your School Counselor. Now that you are at home navigating either the beginning, midpoint, or end of your college search, reaching out to your Counselor for assistance is vital. They can provide insights on schools, locate a former student who is enrolled, and generate all to critical documents that are part of the application process.

Use the Eyes of an Insiders: Gaining hands-on feedback from individuals who are attending or are recent graduates is a great way to learn about a school. Former high school classmates, friends, relatives, and alumni are a great source to learn college back story. Don’t know someone, check in with your School Counselor or Admissions Office.

What’s Changed?

Campus Visits & College Fairs: For the time being, Informational Tours, Accepted Students Day, local and regional college fairs are all on hold. The stay home, 6FT of social distancing, and the critical need to protect everyone’s health, the school needed to cancel all events on campus. They’ll be back, but for the time being, virtual is the new tool. Virtual Tours – Webinars – Facetime

Virtual Tours: While nothing can replace walking across the quad, peeking into a classroom or dorm, or sampling the latest culinary delights, technology can be the next best friend. Navigating to a school’s website or through one of a few different third-party providers, students can investigate college options.

 On-Demand Streaming- Along with virtual tours, colleges and universities are offering streaming video, live and taped webinars, and other events. Check their websites for events and schedules.

 Facetime: Chatting, answering questions, and providing specific insights to campuses is available to prospective and accepted students. Students and parents can speak with a current student, Admissions Counselors, Coaches at designated times, or on-demand.

Meeting College Representatives: With the closure of college campuses around the country, Admissions Counselors, Coaches, Performing Arts Advisers, and Faculty are all working remotely. Getting to know these individuals should not be a barrier during these times. They’re just an email and text away! Admissions Representatives who frequently visit high schools and attend college fairs are not traveling. But, they are working to build the next two enrollment classes. So are those looking to field the next team of student-athletes, dancers, and performers? If the contact information is not known, searching a school website or contacting the high school should produce their name and info. Getting to College Representatives are essential to building relationships and communicating why you are the top candidate to accept, this year or next.

 With or Without COVID-19

Where I’m Applying: When it is all said and done, selecting a college or university to attend is a personal choice. A choice based on multiple factors, including educational training and personal development. An institution whose internal structure supports a student’s emotional wellbeing and leads to a career outcome. Through the process of elimination, a student’s final list of choices, schools I want to apply to fall into three categories where the average student is:

  • Above MY Profile – I’d be psyched to get in!
  • Right ON MY Profile –perfect match, and
  • I’m Above the Profile –”I’m the big fish in their small pond!”

 Let’s Not Forget Affordability – Colleges are not free. Attending an institution of my choice is an investment. Today, yes, it is troubling to consider how to finance a college education; however, even in prosperous times, affordability must be a critical consideration. Getting in is one part; paying the bill throughout four-years must is equally essential and should not be ignored while narrowing the list!!

Explore| Evaluate| Refine| Select –  Don’t Let COVID-19 Change the Process; Continue to Work Your Plan

Care Is Needed When Saying Yes to a 2020 College

Care Is Needed When Saying Yes to a 2020 College

Yes, these are unusual times for everyone, including millions of college-bound high school seniors and their families. Within the last two months, everything has turned upside down, affecting even the greatest of plans. Or so, one might think.

Financing one’s college education has become one of the top five most significant financial investments an individual will make in their lifetime and that of their parents. Choosing to go to college should be treated as an investment, one that doesn’t put the student or their parents at a financial risk.

But How?

Depending on where a student and their parents are in the college planning process, multiple strategies can apply. Plans should take into consideration college choices, financial resources, dependency on financial aid, and future goals. Wise steps are needed next today.

Seniors: Unfortunately, you are under the microscope, experiencing the most significant impact. You and your parents may have chosen a college, submitted a deposit, or you have been narrowing the list and were ready to pull the trigger. However, now as you compare financial aid awards and calculate the net cost, the gap has grown. In both cases, filing an appeal is your next step. Deposited or not, if your ability to meet the cost of one or more college on the list, a request is in order. You must convey the new, current financial status of the household and the specific reason (loss of or drop in income). The appeal is sent to the Financial Aid Office and copied to Admissions. Then give them time, monitor emails, and follow up.

Deposited Days Extended:  By now, most college-bound seniors know that the official May 1 Deposit Day is on the move. The vast majority of colleges and universities are moving their deposit date to June and a few even, July. For students and families who are evaluating the cost side of choosing, enrolling this is a helpful sign.

New Recruitment Practices: I’m not referring to athletics, all though they too are affected by the current COVID-19. I am speaking about potentially new recruitment practices coming to the forefront of higher education. The idea of schools reaching out past the deposit date to have a conversation about considering their campus. A practice generally unheard in higher education, but one that this Adviser feels its time has come. Maybe call re-inforces second or third might just be the best fit. A call the student can also make!!

Financing Resources: Traditional funding resources are still here. As is typical for this time of year is the exercise of finalization of payment strategies. What current savings or income as part of the financing plan and what if any future income, loans were going to be needed. Of course, now, for many families,  learn if an adjustment to merit and financial aid awarded will accrue and if it will be enough.

  • Family savings: Potentially hit the hardest due to the COVID-19; families may continue to have resources through 529 Plans, other college savings programs, and investment programs. It may be too early to learn of the overall effect COVID-19 has had on families.
  • Monthly payment plans: A program offered directly through the school, providing 5, 7, 10 installment payments over a semester or year. Most plans require a small application fee and are interest fees, a very cost-effective loan program. The question becomes, what resources within the current budget are available?
  • Federal Direct Student Loans: A loan extended to the student directly as part of the completion and filing of the FAFSA, awarded based on grade level and academic progression. A first-year student may be eligible to receive up to $5,500 with payments are due six months after graduation or early separation from school. The loan carries a fixed interest rate, which, based on current projections, maybe as low as 2.89%* for the coming academic year.
  • Federal PLUS Loan: A credit-based loan available to parents of a dependent student. This fixed-rate loan (projected to be as low as 5.44% for July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021*) allows a parent to borrow a portion of or the entire remaining balance owed to the college or university. Payments begin 30-45 days following the disbursement of the full loan. The loan is repaid monthly between 5-20 years. Although not recommended, loan payments can be postponed during the student’s enrollment period. Interest accrues during the postponement and is either paid or added to the balance at the end.
  • Private Education Loans: A credit-based loan is provided through a small nucleus of lenders and credit unions and may be available to an eligible student and parents. Interest rates are based on the creditworthiness of the borrower and co-borrower if required (90% of undergraduate students require a co-borrower) and whether the loan will is repaid or deferred while the student is in school. The average fixed interest rate today can range from 3.99% to 12%. A private loan has become prevalent resources, but one that can be the most costly. It should only be one’s last resort!

Alternative Decisions: Looks like I will be the one to address the elephant in the room. Students’ first choice may not be their choice today. The decisions to select a top runner from the second or third row may be in the best interest of the student and their family. Shouldering the cost of high-interest private loans, allowing a parent to (never) think of using retirement savings to enroll in a school that yes, is the dream, but an investment risk needs to be studied, evaluated and questioned.  Moving to a top second and third choice may be the wises decision, a new first-year college student will make in their life!!

In such trying times, we are here to serve as a resource and provider of useful content from the college industry. Our team has walked thousands of families through the college process over the last few decades. Please feel free to call, text, or email your questions. We hope you find value in our information and welcome you to join us virtually.

Reference: Mark Kantrowitz March 11, 2020, Savingforcollege.com

Mapping the Journey Through High School and Beyond

Mapping the Journey Through High School and Beyond

I have gone to school for twelve (12) years, and I don’t want to go anymore! I do not know what I want to study or major? I’ll go where everyone else is. I’m only applying to these colleges, and I will get in! I’m going to get an athletic scholarship! I heard you and dad talking, I know we have no money. I told you I’m just going to join the Army.

These and other statements and questions are part of many household conversations in neighborhoods all over the North Shore, Eastern MA, and beyond. Parents and grandparents of middle and high school students are involved in the process of wondering, planning, and for some worrying about the path of a student after high school. Struggle, confusion, and stress are also common around this time of year.

When asked how to manage my student and bring harmony to my house during this daunting and sometimes overwhelming experience, my question is, do you have a plan. We plan for retirement, when taking a vacation, we make to-do lists and restaurant reservation. Managing the journey through high school and beyond calls for a plan, beginning as early as middle school.  A strategy built on the goals wants and abilities of a student and the financial capabilities of the family. A plan that evolves and adjusts due to change but can serve as a foundation to map a student’s journey through high school and beyond.

Historically, March plays a pivotal role in the timeline for college planning. Parents and grandparents of Sophomores and Juniors begin their journey through learning and awareness. Tapping into resources through one’s high school, attending seminars and workshops, and yes, surfing the net and having “heart to heart” conversations around the kitchen table, are many of the starting points. Over the coming months (18-24 months), the plan will guide, direct, and monitor the many tasks and responsibilities. If followed, the plan can bring harmony and joy to any household.

Starting a Plan
  • Step One: Explore the world of possibilities after high school; college, work, skilled professional, military.
  • Step Two: Schedule a family financial checkup early. We do it for our health and wellness, even our car. Learning how much one can afford before we are shopping can be helpful.
  • Step Three: Build a plan that shoots for the stars but is realistic at its core.
  • Step Four:   Work the plan, make modifications, let it evolve, and it will bring harmony to the experience.

March also sees HS seniors approaching their finish line as final Offers of Acceptance and equally important Financial Aid Award Letters arrive at home. These critical documents are evaluated and compared to select one’s final choice, one’s “fit,” the institution that will receive a student’s May 1st  Deposit.

No Idea

For decades the general plan was that everyone needed to go to college. If not, it was work or the military. Now, there is a more significant movement, a greater acceptance to slow the rush for students who are not sure if they want to attend college after high school. Yes, the tendency is to follow society pressures, but sending a student who is not academically prepared, motivated at the idea, or with the financial support will have a negative impact. Use the same concept of the college plan to map out the next steps that can include Community College, work, or a blend of both. If we have learned anything from the recent/ongoing Varsity Blues Scandal, chasings society’s pressures do not always work out best for the student and family. Send up being the best plan!!

Learning and Educational Programs

Before the internet, DIY, chasing millions of hits and website leads, many of us obtained information by attending workshops. Workshops that offered chances to examine timely details, ask questions specific to one’s world, and learn with one’s peers. These types of programs are making a revival through the new Spotlight Connect Program. New venues are now available for students, parents, and extended family members to gain critical information to aid in their college experience.

Pivotal College Years is another resource I would recommend parents to investigate. Yes, we need the internet, but we do not need 335Million hits to research when looking for admissions and financial aid information. Pivotal College years are an online content library supported by a team of experts, including us at Get College Going.