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.
- 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.
- 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 email@example.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.