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

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

The Middle to High School Transition

It’s time to move up to the big kids table. Eighth grade is quickly coming to an end with the next level, high school a few months away. Bigger cafeterias, more hallways to navigate and twice as many students. High school is the time when 13-17-year-old students blossom into teenagers.

High school offers a student the chance to explore, learn and develop. Academics, personal talents and authentic personality all come to life during high school. Will it be a traditional college prep setting or maybe vocational technical training? STEM, STEAM curriculum?   about Junior ROTC?  But how do we choose for our Middle School student?

Parents of soon to be high school freshman should talk to them now. Talk about interest, academic paths, desires to learn with one’s hands or a combination of both. Not sure how to determine the high school path for a student. Consider using a career match survey sponsored by the folks at educationplanner.org. A survey that brings talent and interest into the conversation. But most importantly, visit with your 8th grade student all of your high school options.

Consider these areas when investigating all types of high school settings.

  • Will the student be challenged academically? What level of math, science and language will a freshman be taking? Where do they end as seniors?
  • How does the school celebrate and support a student’s authentic self?
  • Are students encouraged to take honors course when success in standard classes comes easy?
  • What is the balance between academic and shop classes?
  • Are students encouraged to find their own identity through clubs and organizations?
  • Is there equal celebration for drama/theater & band as there is for athletics.
  • What is the reputation of the faculty and administration?
  • What type of academic support is offered students? How do you measure its effectiveness?
  • How does the administration address social issues like bullying & drugs; head on or with a naked eye?
  • How will a student be challenged to grow his/her personal character, expand one’s “moral compass”? Are service projects organized?
  • Does the system participate in dual enrollment with area colleges?

Study and time management skills are honed in the 6-7 through projects and activities and by 8th grade one’s self-discipline and moral compass begins to form. As a enters 9th grade they are on their way to formulating their high school resume which will help to identify their path after high school. The experience between 9th and 12th grade defines a student’s readiness to follow their path after high school. For some it will be college, others a professional trade and for many a combination of both. All should be celebrated. No longer do we live in a society where one path is the only direction for high school students.

Four years will be gone in the snap of your fingers. Open your Middle School student’s eyes to their possibilities – options for high school. The next transition will be very successful!!