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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 

Send Your...

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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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Should You Take the SAT or ACT This Year?

Uncategorized May 28, 2020
 

You may have heard last week that the University of California system – with 10 campuses enrolling over a quarter million students – announced it would be test-optional for Fall 2021 admission.  The new policy phases in changes over the next four years ending with the university either creating a new admission test or eliminating the standardized test requirements for all students by 2025.  Although many schools have announced test-optional policies for next year in the wake of Covid-19, the University of California announcement was likely the most significant and could represent a turning point for admission test requirements.   

What does this mean for you as an applicant?  Should you plan to take the SAT or the ACT?  The answer still largely depends on the schools you are interested in.  Although more and more schools are choosing test-optional admission policies, the majority still require either the SAT or ACT to be...

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3 Things You Can Do To Remove Your College Admissions Stress

Uncategorized May 20, 2020

Applying to colleges can be a stressful process under the best circumstances.  In 2020, with the education system turned on its ear, the admission process might seem near impossible.  Standardized tests are canceled for the spring, high schools are closed changing the dynamics of grades and extracurriculars, and colleges are shifting application requirements.  From week to week, it can be hard to keep track of the changes.  So, what’s a high school junior to do?   

Focus on what you can control.  Minimize your stress by focusing on the parts of the application process that you can affect.  Here are some suggestions of things you can do now for your college applications.     

  1. Start your Common App Essay.  Haven’t started any college essays? Now is a great time.  Look at the Common App essay topics – the personal statement has a choice of 7 prompts.  Or look at the schools you are...
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10 Little-Known Factors That Could Help Your Teen’s College Admissions. Part 2 of 3

Uncategorized May 20, 2020
 

Enjoy learning some essential tips from Ryan Clark and me about college planning – learn and help your teens apply to college this fall in the most effective way despite so much uncertainty with college applications.

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