We recommend students apply to 10 - 15 colleges. This should be a mix of colleges. Some will be considered 'reach colleges' or colleges that may be more selective, and at which is more difficult to be accepted. Others will be 'peer colleges' or colleges which fall right in line with your GPA, test scores, and community service. The others will be the 'slam dunk colleges' or those colleges to which you are pretty much assured of acceptance. Excellent educational opportunities are available to students who also consider enrolling in schools outside their region.
We utilize a strategy in this application process which has remarkable results increasing the amount of financial aid a student and family receives.
Each college has a COA or 'Cost of Attendance' which is reported to the federal government each year. The increase in cost will continue to play an important role in your total college costs over the years in attendance. However, with the proper college financial strategies, and a professionally designed plan - your college costs can be drastically reduced, and made unbelievably affordable! Most students qualify for 2 types of financial aid: Merit Based Financial Aid and Need Based Financial Aid.
In order to receive either type, a form called the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) must be submitted each and every year to the US Department of Education. Your EFC (Expected Family Contribution) is calculated from your FAFSA form information. This amount is what the Federal Government feels your family should be able to contribute toward paying for college. (*NOTE: The USDE has stated that nearly 80% of these forms are submitted with errors causing the parents to pay Tens, and even Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars more than what they should be paying)
Colleges use your FAFSA information, or 'federal methodology' to determine how much federal air you qualify for, and the CSS profile or 'institutional methodology' which determines the amount of institutional aid you qualify for.
Not all colleges use the CSS profile, but instead use your FAFSA information to determine both how much federal and institutional aid you qualify for
There are a number of things that can be done to lower the EFC. Professional college financial strategies along with college financial aid tax planning can mitigate the family contribution, but the family must understand the responsibility for cost of higher education belongs to the students' parents.
There are seven major sources of money to cover college costs.
- College athletic based awards.
- College academic based awards (some are only given if there is need).
- College need based awards.
- Federal Programs.
- State Programs.
- The family's contribution or EFC.
- Outside scholarships (Local, Public, Private).
There are three major areas which will lower college costs
- The student should do all he/she can to learn during high school and keep their grade point average as high as possible Use of scientific college profiling software is preferable to determine what type of college is best for the student. However, when none is used, research on colleges and college visits should be used to find the college which fits into the student's comfort zone. Some students do better in larger classes with lecture based learning while others do better in smaller classes with more personal interaction with their instructors.
- The single most important area, and the one area parents are least knowledgeable about, proper college financial planning and college financial tax strategies. The rules in these areas differ greatly from the rules CPAs and Tax Consultants use. In fact, using standard tax rules will drastically reduce the amount of financial aid a family receives. A specially trained, professional college funding advisor has the expertise to address this and get you the best possible amount of financial aid.
- There are other ways not listed here which deal with athletic or special abilities. The three above mentioned ways are the answer for the masses and should be planned on, even if the student does have special talents.
Yes! Successfully completing AP courses allow a student to achieve college credit at high school prices. Not all colleges accept AP courses, so check with colleges during your college search period to see if this plan of action will work for you.
Most definitely! The prompter courses appear to help most students, but it depends on the student's participation and attendance. These courses have actually been shown to raise SAT scores by 225 points nationally. Taking the SAT/ACT tests multiple times has also been utilized, but most increases occur with prompter courses.
During your junior year of high school do at least one crossword puzzle a week for at least 6 months prior to your exam.
Maybe. Summer sessions may be less expensive at some colleges, and will allow you to graduate early, thereby getting you in the work place sooner. Overall however, the total cost of your degree will be about the same..
In some cases it can and in others it may not. You much check with the college you are going to transfer to discover if they will accept the Junior College credits which will transfer with your degree. The cost per credit hour at a two-year college will be less than at a four-year college. In some cases, the savings could be in the thousands of dollars depending on the four-year college you transfer to.
It is a very good idea. The amount of income you bring into the household is an important figure to analyze. You will receive an allowance of 35% of the lower wage income up to $2,800. The optimum second wage earner range is six to nine thousand dollars per year. Any income generated from this additional job should be directed to your college financial planning for maximum utilization. Speak with your college financial advisor to learn the best way for this strategy to work.
Debt will however be a reality for almost all college students. Your debt load, as a graduating senior should be 8 - 10% of your total projected income for the job represented by your degree field. Example: You have a degree engineering and your starting wage is $35,000. The budget then is 10%, which is $3,500 per year, or $291 per month starting 6 months after graduation. The cost per thousand per month for 10 years is approximately $11.00 (depending on what interest rate and type of loan you acquire). The amount of money the student can borrow then is approximately $26,500. The rest of the college costs will be from awards, your parents, and other sources. If the combination of your major, grades, community involvement, SAT/ACT scores and ability to pay cannot combine to get you into the college you want, you may need to consider one of your other choices. This is why starting the process with only one college in mind is not a good idea.
- PSAT in your sophomore and junior school years
- SAT/ACT test in Spring of junior year
- MCP Program - or college searches and visits starting in Spring of junior year until the final
- SAT/ACT test in Fall of senior year
- Decisions regarding the colleges you will be applying to
- Application to those colleges during the month of October
- Completion of CSS profile if required in December
- Completion of FAFSA in January
- Complete institutional financial aid forms if necessary in December & January
- In March or April, respond to housing deposits early - as most are refundable if not used
- In March, April & May, respond to award letters as soon as possible and ask questions of the financial aid department. Ask questions which will provide answers for you to understand why your award is what it is
- In May or June, complete all loan applications as if they were necessary.