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Financial Matters: Money for College

Money often plays a big factor in the pursuit of a college degree, but hopefully, it will not stop anyone from attending college! Yes, college can be expensive, but there is aid available to help you and your family pay for college. Major sources of financial aid for college include:

Grants – Grants are “gifts” from the government and from individual colleges that reduce college costs. Grants are awarded based on your family’s financial situation. Colleges are the largest source of grants for higher education. The Federal Government and some state governments also offer grants to help students from lower-income families pay for college costs. Grants do not have to be paid back or earned. Grants may be renewed every year you attend college, although if your family’s financial situation changes, the amount you receive may also change.

Merit Scholarships – Merit scholarships are offered by many colleges and private organizations. Scholarships are...

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Making Sense of College Rankings

Uncategorized Jan 08, 2021

Although this article is directed to students just beginning their college search, it will also be useful to seniors in making their final choice of college to attend. This is especially true this year since so many applicants have been unable to make an in-person campus visit.

For many students and parents, one of their many early college research options is to go directly to those famous lists of college rankings. The assumption is that if a college is ‘ranked’ highly by this or that publication, it must therefore be a ‘good’ or even ‘great’ college. International families, especially, often turn to the ‘ratings’ because in many other countries the hierarchy of universities’ reputations is clearly defined and known, and families want their children to study only at renowned American institutions. This phenomenon has often accounted for huge increases in applications to colleges at the top of those rankings from students in Asia....

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11 Pages to Research When Taking a Deep Dive Into a College Website

Uncategorized Nov 12, 2020

Pandemic or no pandemic, researching colleges is imperative for high school students. Typically, it involves many modes of research, including in-person campus visits and tours by students and families, and attending college representatives’ public information sessions and their visits to high schools. Gathering up all this information guides a student towards their shortlist of colleges, ranked in order of preference. Now, in the age of COVID, everything about college research has changed and teens must focus their efforts on online resources, the college website being the primary focus of that research. Fortunately, colleges have been enriching their websites and can provide students with a vast amount of information. Now, let’s dive!

Home Page: Always start with the college's home page. Make sure you are not falling down a rabbit hole by entering sites without the .edu domain name. Typically, the header bar’s navigation menu will quickly link you to About Us,...

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The Language of Financial Aid

financial aid Oct 15, 2020

When you’re searching and applying for college financial aid, it helps to understand the jargon. The FAFSA form (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) employs a bewildering array of acronyms. American students should file a FAFSA as soon as possible after October 1st of senior year. Complete your application online at https://fafsa.ed.gov. To make the process easier, we offer a handy translation guide.

COA stands for Cost of Attendance. This number includes such costs as tuition, room and board, fees, books, a minimal budget for incidental spending, and two round trips yearly between the college and the student’s home.

EFC is the Expected Family Contribution—the amount the student and his family are expected to pay towards the first year of college expenses. The EFC is derived from an analysis of all of the data entered on the FAFSA form.

ESTABLISHED NEED—the difference between the COA and the EFC. This is the amount that the college...

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Financial Matters: The FAFSA

fafsa financial aid Oct 07, 2020

The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the primary form used by colleges to determine eligibility for need-based aid. In some cases, colleges will not consider an applicant for merit aid unless that student has first submitted a FAFSA. The FAFSA should be filed as soon as possible after October 1st of the student’s senior year, and then yearly while attending college.

The FAFSA collects basic information about both the student’s and his/her parents’ incomes and assets and uses this information to determine an expected family contribution (EFC). The EFC is the amount that the student and family are expected to contribute towards that individual’s college expenses during the next academic year. The difference between the EFC and the total cost of attendance at your college of choice is known as demonstrated need. Colleges use this information to prepare a customized financial aid package for each admitted student who qualifies for financial aid....

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How Will Colleges Make Decisions This Year and Next?

Uncategorized Oct 01, 2020

There have been many challenges and disruptions to our everyday lives since the COVID pandemic started – in-home quarantine, required social distancing, no visits with friends or distant family, no travel, and even a shortage of toilet paper. This article addresses the unique circumstances for students engaged in their high school academics and extracurricular activities, college-bound juniors, and seniors in particular. For this group of young people, it's important to remain optimistic that the crisis will bring about change in the world of college admissions, leading to changes for the better in a system that, for many with limited resources, simply doesn't work.

Admission officers review applicants' academic records with a focused eye on both 11th-grade results and coursework rigor. This is also the time for many students to start their standardized testing and build up a healthy resume of extracurricular activities. But in the spring of 2020, most schools closed, and...

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College: Demonstrating Interest—COVID Edition

Uncategorized Sep 24, 2020

Demonstrated interest is a term used by colleges as a way of measuring an individual student’s level of interest in their institution. Traditionally, students have been able to show their interest through personal contact to indicate to a college – hey, I like you! That involved campus tours, classroom visits, and meetings with faculty and admission representatives. Now, most of those options are off the table. If you are interested in a college that considers demonstrated interest as part of their application process, how can you maximize the current situation with COVID putting limits on travel and one-on-one visits?

Mailing-list: Go to your college’s website and sign up on their mailing list. While there, go to the Admission page and re-search the name and contact information for the representative responsible for your geographic area and high school. Send an introductory email to that individual expressing your interest and ask a question. You will build upon...

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Making The Most of Virtual Learning

Uncategorized Sep 16, 2020

In a March 2020 education paper printed in the Harvard Business Review, Vijay Govindarajan and Anup Srivastava, both renowned international business professors, stated the following: “Tectonic shifts in society and business occur when unexpected events force widespread experimentation around a new idea.” The Covid-19 pandemic represents such a tectonic shift and has deeply impacted education from kindergarten to the highest levels of higher education. Everyone now has to experiment with alternate ways of learning, we are questioning traditional teaching methods, and we are taking on the processes by which knowledge is delivered. So, assuming that your fall semester will be either 100% online or a hybrid form of online and in-person classes, how can you make the very best of this new system?

Get good equipment and know how to use it. You’ll need a strong signal, a fast speed, lots of storage, and a printer. Make sure you have the most updated software; learn how to...

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AP Scores and College Credit

Uncategorized Jun 17, 2020

Although this year's AP tests were “non-traditional”, many colleges have said that they will still award AP credit (see this list by Prompt).  AP scores will be available online beginning July 15.  Scores are released over several days based on the state in which you tested.  View the date and location schedule, and your scores, on the College Board website.  

What is the AP exam score scale? 

There is no “pass” or “fail” on the AP tests.  It’s important to understand the definitions of the AP scores. 

5 = extremely well qualified | Many universities award college credit  

4 = well qualified | Some universities award college credit 

3 = qualified | Some universities award college credit 

2 = possibly qualified | No college credit awarded 

1 = no recommendation | No college credit awarded 

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You Can Make A Difference: Student Activism

Uncategorized Jun 03, 2020

It was hard to imagine 2020 being any worse, and then the country erupted over the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.  Communities have watched in horror as protests have boiled over into riots and confrontations with heavily armed police and national guard troops.  In a summer that already felt uncertain, the civil unrest adds a layer of foreboding that may seem almost impossible to bear.  But you can counter that feeling of helplessness with action.       

Student activism has long been the catalyst for political and societal change.  Many movements that have been dramatically advanced by student action.  No matter your political, social, or personal beliefs, college is usually a place where you can find like-minded friends.  It can also be a place where your beliefs are challenged. 

You can advance anti-racism or another cause safely with some of the following...

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