Hello September

Hello September

Leaders of many major colleges and universities announced this week, May 18th that their campuses would once again have students attending classes and living in dorms. Ithaca College, Boston College,  Notre Dame, among many, are planning to be open for business this Fall. Modifications will be part of the openings with conditions geared to protect the wellbeing of students while allowing for in-person learning.

For students and families, this is welcoming news. As recent as last week, 64% of incoming and returning college students surveyed by The Chronicle of Higher Education indicated a strong desire to be back on campus. For parents, questions remain, many associated with the health of students as well as the cost to attend. Those related to social distancing and the use of masks will need to be defined; the return to campus will likely mean that cost will remain. Adjustments associated with financial aid appeals tied to COVID-19 and a family’s ability to meet tuition costs should remain ongoing; however, students and families need to prepare for the arrival of the first-semester college bill.

Students attending institutions where online learning will continue through the fall semester should be contacting their college or university to confirm college costs.

Paying the Bill

Due to the current pandemic, students and families should be analyzing their plan to pay the college bill. Parents should investigate all concerns related to changes in employment, income, and other credit-related needs that could affect consumer borrowing.

In 2008, the last time we experienced an economic credit concern, many educational lenders pulled out of the private student loan marketplace.   Many families experienced a ripple effect causing problems over secure critical resources to assist with meeting college costs.

We do not anticipate this happening as a result of COVID-19; Credit criteria, lender access, and overall availability of resources may be subject to change in the coming months.

Students and families who may require financing resources should calculate their net educational costs, gap, and, if needed, complete education loan applications early. Federal and private education loans are common resources used by first-year and returning college students/families. Students and families should consult with their college or universities financial aid website for information on the use of educational loans

Health Insurance: Students who will continue under the family health insurance plan should sign and submit a WAIVER to avoid being charged by the school.  

 COVID-19 Community Commitment: FREE Until 2021

Whether you are a Student, Parent or Educator looking for 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.

Seasons of Change

Seasons of Change

As the summer quickly comes to an end it marks the return to school for high school students and the start of new careers for recent graduates. In this posting we offer some information, guidance and direction for not only high school students excited with the thoughts of starting a new school’s year, fall sports and reconnecting with classmates but also for those enrolled in college and exiting with education loan debt. We break the piece down into three categories, Before, During and After College. A little something for everyone!!


  • Freshman & Sophomores – as the newest to the campus your activities should be geared towards establishing a strong foundation. Study habits and time management are two fundamentals to tackle while getting one’s bearings.
    • Parents – If were talking college post high school it is important at this early junction to begin to learn about college cost and how to finance a 2-4-year college degree.
  • Juniors – this is the pivotal year! Academics, academics and a lot of personal development. Junior year is the time when serious college planning Searching, visiting and evaluating college options need to begin as early as October of the Junior year.
    • Parents – as your prospective college bound student opens up the doors to his/her college panning, you too must begin to evaluate the ability to finance a $30-$50,000 annual cost of education. The conversation, what is realistic based on family financial resources is critical.
  • Seniors – if college after high school is the desired path, seniors need to be on high readiness to begin the semester strong, academically. It is also critical to maintain commitment to athletic and performing art responsibilities and other activities. returning will turn into a scramble as college selections, application deadlines and other parts of the college acceptance and financial aid process will be front and center.
    • Parents – completion of the Student Aid Applications (FAFSA) and other college forms will require 100% of your attention. Calculating and understanding the Net Tuition Costs for the finalist of the college search is a must.

Much is happening on college campuses. New, first year students are arriving with nervousness and eyes wide open to begin their exciting college career. Welcoming parties (students and events) are there to usher in the new class and provide hands on direction. Campuses are alive with new student activities, 1st year student experience programming, sporting events and activities in the dorms.

  • Parents – resist calling and checking in on your recent drop off. Students, new to the college experience need time to adjust, explore the campus, meet new classmates and get past their jitters. Give it a week to 10 days and then text a simple message: How are you doing? How are classes and your new experience going? Parent’s Weekend, held on all college campuses near the end of September and through the first part of October will be the time to take your first pulse check of your new college student.

If you are one of thousands of students who started and stopped attending college, this is the time to consider restarting. Becoming a Transfer Student! Upwards to 20% of a colleges’ 1st/2nd year student population leave school. The good thing is for every college/university that loses a student, that same institution is looking for a transfer student. Transfer students can bounce back to community college, and hit the restart button and/or move to a school on one’s original search list. Transfer students are in high demand. If you have been thinking about hitting the button, you can do it now!!


Upper class students are returning to campus to continue their educational experience. For some fine tuning of majors will be in order and others will be seeking out assistance and guidance to ensuring they’re on track to complete their degree. Degree completion is the goals and 4 years is the target. But if you do not know for certain where one is on the completion track, one could be in for a rude awaking. And the day to pick up one’s graduation packet is not the time to learn you have one/two/a full semester of courses to take to graduate. Find out now!! Don’t get surprised!!!

Returning to campus is also the time to investigate opportunities for internships, study abroad programs and other degree enhancements programs. If you have not been to Career Services why are you waiting. Stimulate your pathway to your job now. Make Career Services your best friend!!


Graduation has been over for months; the excitement is now turned to joining the workforce and seeing what arrives in the mail (email). For many recent graduates it is a message from an education loan servicer, the agent for the Federal Government or a private lender. For it is now time to arrange for the repayment of one’s education debt. Federal Direct and Private Student Loans are about to come due. The glorious six (6) month grace period is about to expire. Check out the links below to learn your rights, responsibilities and repayment options. Then pick up the phone, open the email and say hello.

Then pick up the phone, open the email and say hello – Someone on the other end will be happy to help!!

For more information on these and other admissions, financial aid and managing education debt topics, give us a ring at Get College Going

Before, During & After – Just Thinking

Before, During & After – Just Thinking

The idea of considering college after high school is a process that all students and families will encounter. Learning the paths, a student can explore should begin in middle school and be cultivated during their high school years. Finding one’s path to college, work and financial independence is not a one size fits all quest.


Colleges and universities continue opt out of requiring SAT’s & ACT test scores for admissions. However, most institutions continue to require national testing scores when awarding merit-based scholarships. Students interested in applying for merit aid should check with their school of interest. (Colleges Test Optional/Test Optional for Merit Aid)


Colleges and universities provide more than 70% of all tuition assistance; merit scholarships and need based assistance.  Merit scholarships reward students for their high school performance (academic, athletic and performing arts) and personal character. Need based financial aid attempts to assist students and families who demonstrate financial need.  Colleges use both types of resources to encourage students to consider their institution. It is not uncommon for students and parents to appeal their offers. Tuition assistance is key to making a choice that is not only affordable but the right fit!!


Time invested – Time Rewarded!

Private philanthropic donors, companies and organizations provide scholarships to first year and returning students attending public, private and community colleges. Criteria, eligibility and deadlines vary from program to program. Listed below are several nationally recognized sites to conduct individualized searches.

Sampling of Programs: