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.

FAFSA TIME – 2023-2024 CHANGES

FAFSA TIME – 2023-2024 CHANGES

Leave it to Congress, the Administration, and the U.S. Department of Education to once again introduce changes to the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA).
Note: as we go to press, the DOE has not issued final regulations and guidance, so here is what we know today.

  • Switch in Terminology – moving from the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) to the Student Aid Index (SAI). Methodologies are changing, and to the student’s (family) advantage, the result will be a calculation used by all providers to determine need-based aid.
  • Who Files the Application – today, the parent(s) with whom the student lives 51% complete and file the FAFSA. Beginning with the 2023-2024 academic year (as of October 1, 2022), the parent(s) who claims the student as an exemption on their IRS Tax Return will be (new) required to complete the application. There will be no change for two-parent households; however, the change will have significant implications for divorced and separated families.
  • Elimination of the Multiple Children – families with multiple students in college have received a break in their contribution. This provision ends with the 2023-2024 application. However, schools will be allowed to use their discretion to assist families.
  • Untaxed Income – many areas have been redefined or excluded, including cash support and money paid on behalf of a student—the all-important help from grandparents and relatives.
    • Note: Schools that require the CSS Profile will still be looking for this information.
  • Income Protection Allowance – although the multiple children provision is gone, the percentage used to calculate adjustments to income has increased.

The Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) opens live for the 2023-2024 academic year on October 1, 2022. All students and families interested in applying for need-based financial aid awarded by colleges, universities, the federal, state, and even some private scholarship organizations should apply.

Keep in mind that the greatest factor in the determination of a student/family’s eligibility for need-based aid is income. For the 2023-2024 FAFSA the income reported will come from the 2021 IRS Tax Return. Real-time assets and savings play a role, but significantly less. The second is the school!

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.

 

Excitement of May

The arrival of May 2022 has never been more needed than this year. Longer days and warmer days are upon us as we welcome back the likes of the Red Sox, summer sports, dance recitals, and getting the double-wide family trailer opened at the beach.

In households of soon-to-be graduating seniors, May 1 marked National Deposit Day, the day the Class of 2026 commits to enroll in college. Exciting for students and surreal for parents. The journey to find the right college to start one’s 13th year of learning and personal development is complete. All that’s left is finding a roommate, obtaining medical and legal documents, and finalizing how to pay. Congratulations to all.

If exploring higher education after high school is still being considered, maybe a different path is in order. No longer is it a one-education pathway that fits all. Exploring interests and options to achieve individual expectations and goals is the key.

May is equally important to current 11th-grade students on their threshold, 12-grade. College planning for juniors and even sophomores should be in high gear with scheduled campus visits. Campuses are alive with activities and opportunities. Schedule your on-campus visits now!!

To all the hard-working moms, thank you for your devotion and love. We celebrate you on Mother’s Day and every day!!

Have questions, we’re here to calm the waters.

Schedule a Free Consultation

Congratulations – Graduation is in sight.

But, yes, there are a few more things for parents of college-bound students; one critical – is finalizing how to pay the remaining cost to attend.

  • Step #1: Using the school’s financial aid award letter, calculate the net tuition price
    • Cost – all merit and need-based aid awarded = the net tuition price
  • Step #2: Review the financing options specific to your family’s resources – savings, gifts, investment earnings, home equity
  • Step #3: Add to the help all external scholarships awarded at graduation or from external sources.
  • Step #4: If a balance remains and no other resources are available, families can consider two credit-based loans, the Federal PLUS (Parent) Loan or an Alternative Private Education Loan (student is the borrower; parent is a co-signer).
  • Access my Financing Worksheet, which walks you through the process.

Federal Education Loan Freeze
Once again, the U.S. Department of Education (ED), at the request of the Administration, has extended the student loan payment freeze to August 31, 2022. The extension suspends loan payments, drops the interest to 0%, and offers other benefits to delinquent and defaulted student loan borrowers.
While you wait for the thaw, borrowers with private education should investigate refinancing benefits: fixed interest rate, one account, or liquidating loans faster. It is unclear what the political air will be in September, so stay tone.

National Testing
The on-again, off-again debate goes on. SAT/ACT or not. The pandemic made it almost impossible for students to take the test; high schools stopped offering Test Day, resulting in a nationwide test-optional movement at colleges and universities. Many schools are rethinking their policies and reintroducing the requirement for admission and scholarship awards. What does this mean for 11th-grade students? If you can register and sit for the test, do so. BUT suppress releasing your results. Don’t take the free offer. Tipping one’s hat too early can be a barrier to acceptance!!

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.

Planning Checklists

9th | 10th | 11th Grades  

Five Steps to Planning and Financing 

  • Learn about costs – in/out of state, public or private, and community college.
  • Determine what you can afford – get a pre-assessment of a family’s contribution and financial aid before going shopping.
  • Learn how college makes their decisions, acceptances, waitlists, and financial aid awards
  • Shop broadly – big, small, known, and unknown; avoid the trap of the rankings
  • Create a comprehensive college plan to find the right education, at the right school for the right investment

College-Bound Seniors – 

A few more essential tasks to address to ensure a smooth start to the academic year in September.

  • Activate your NEW College Student email and ID
  • Send in your Dorm Deposit & Find a Roommate
  • Register and attend Orientation
    • Complete Outstanding Forms (Meal Plan Selection, Campus Security Policy)
    • Submit a Student Health Waiver (if the student is covered under a parent’s healthcare plan
    • Submit the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) Waiver (allows parents to retain their right to view student records after the student turns 18 years of age.
    • Health/Immunization Records
    • Submit AP/IB Test Scores (Credits)
    • Take Placement Tests (if required) + Register for Classes
  • Before leaving High School ensure your Final High School Transcript is sent
  • Research extra-curricular on and around campus
  • Work with your insurance carrier/agent if a car is going on campus
  • Shop lightly; pack for the fall
  • Enroll and be successful!

Partners Corner 

Thoughts and Interests from Joanne Light – Parenting Empowerment Coach
Former Vice President of Enrollment Services, North Shore Community College

As parents, tweens, teens, and teachers contemplate a relief from pandemic issues and restrictions, they are also experiencing more stress. Stress is a result of uncertainty and anxiety and right now there is no shortage of causes of that. World unrest, school challenges, financial challenges, relationship challenges – all felt and seen.

However, personal stress is plaguing our tweens and teens in greater proportions. They are facing challenges and worries about identity, social interactions, academic pressure, and future unknowns. So since the world is unpredictable, let’s talk about stress management. First kids need to be aware of their stress and how it makes them physically feel – the racing heart, tightening chest, sweating, and mood changes.

Teenagers’ brains are fast developing, and the fight or flight part of their brain is producing hormones that lead to physical symptoms. They prepare to react to the “danger”. The rational part of their brain is not fully developed, so they may, unless in a calm state, overreact to the “danger” which may be an argument with a parent, an upcoming test, a slight by a friend, an unfinished college application, etc.
Some stress can be a good thing as it motivates planning, practicing, and resilience. Chronic stress, however, for your teen or for you is unsustainable.

There are choices for our kids in coping with their stress, and we parents can model stress management and guide them to make healthy choices. Talk to them openly about healthy vs unhealthy choices. Healthy choices will enable them to gain control and resolve their concerns and minimize some of the stress. The unhealthy choices – drugs, alcohol, poor eating, self-harm, risky sexual behavior, etc. only lead to poor academic performance, regrets, and lower self-esteem. And, of course, more stress.
I will be writing more to suggest creating stress management plans for your kids and for your family. Very important, however, is the example you set in managing your own stress.
Breathe, breathe, breathe…
Visit https://joannehlight.com/ to learn more

This is a new section where we will be featuring information from our colleagues and friends. Individuals who are outside of our lane, but linked through their wonderful work. Trusted partners.

WHAT WE’RE READING & WHO WE’RE FOLLOWING
Trends, changes, and things on the horizon

  • Read about the pros and cons of taking a Gap Year. – Bottom line, have a PLAN Gap Year 
  • Mental health issues on campuses are real – especially for student-athletes
  • SAT changes are coming for 2024 – increased access, digital versus paper,  shorter questions.
  • New FAFSA rules and guidelines will affect 2023-2024, starting Oct 1
  • Always good reading at Grown and Flown; Lessons to learn, conversations before going to college.

 

Events

College Planning Workshop – LIVE & In-Person – Free

Free workshop for parents of high school students

Topics to cover include

  • How the pandemic has changed the way colleges evaluate and recruit students
  • What not to do with retirement savings
  • How to create a plan to find, select, and pay for school.
  • There will be ample time for questions!!

Where: Wakefield Recreation Center
When – Two choices – May 17th and 25th from 7 PM to 8 PM
Sponsored by Pivotal College Years  Register 

SUMMER CLINICS

The PCY Workshop Series is now available! SMALL online classes with the experts. Topics covering Getting Started, Applications, Essays, and MORE…Register today! https://www.eventbrite.com/o/pivotal-college-years-15529534…

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!

 

Get College Going

When you need that one-to-one support. We advise and guide parents; coach and counsel students.  We’re industry experts and parents, just like many of you.

If you are feeling paralyzed or have a sense of anxiety, start a conversation – Follow us, and ask us questions

If you find our newsletter and information helpful, share it within your community and workplace.

 

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Copyright © 2020 Get College Years  All rights reserved.
Schedule a Free Consultation
617-240-7350
tom@getcollegegoing.com

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

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.