If your student is a High School Junior this year, then you've probably been on some college tours. It's an exciting time for students and visiting a college will give them an idea of the exciting opportunities that are ahead of them.
Making the most of the time you spend on a college tour is more important than most people realize. Everyone knows to visit the cafeteria; but many people do not find out what the dining plan includes. Is it all you can eat, whenever you want to eat? Is it two meals a day? Do you have an meal allowance? I think you get the idea. Don't just let the college "show" you their school. Be proactive! Ask questions and get details.A few things you should do on your visits:
- Everyone knows to see the dorms. Find out if the dorms they show you are the Freshman dorms! See how far it is from the dorms to the academic building that most of your classes will be in. It may not seem like a big deal while your visiting a college in July; but if the school is in upstate New York ... it will matter in February.
- Locate the Student Health Center. Find out how you receive medical attention if you need it. Is your medical insurance accepted at local hospitals and medical practices. Does the college offer student health insurance if the student is not covered under their parents plan?
- Check out the gym and athletic facilities. If you are a student that enjoys sports; find out if the facilities are open to all students or if they are reserved for their athletes. An example: If there is an indoor swimming pool, are their hours that it is open to the student body, or is it restricted to the swim team, water polo team, etc. during sports seasons? Even if you are not an athlete, the athletic facilities have some great programs. Kent State has a rock climbing wall in their athletic facility. Who doesn't like rock climbing?
- Look for quiet places! When you need to study for a big exam, where can you do it. The dorms are very often, not the best place to study. Check the libraries and student center for "quiet" places where you or your study group can study.
- Talk to students. Ask your parents to meet you in 30 minutes and use that time to get a feel for the college. Walk around like you belong there and talk to people. Let them know that you are considering the school and ask them what their experiences have been.
We have a "Tour Sheet" with dozens of things you should be doing while visiting a college. If you'd like a copy ... contact our office and I'd be happy to email you one.
College Tours are extremely important for your student to get a true feel for the school and to get their questions answered; it's also important for admissions, as it's an opportunity for you to display interest.
For more information ... contact our office!
This is a brand new admissions application with about 90 colleges participating. This list includes some heavy-weights. Every Ivy League university, Stanford University and the University of Chicago; liberal arts colleges such as Amherst, Swarthmore and Williams Colleges; and near-ivy public institutions such as the Universities of Michigan, North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Virginia.
The Coalition app is meant to be a "portfolio" that showcases the accomplishments of the student and gives a better overall picture of who they are.
Get organized and know how many applications you’ll need to complete! Many students have to fill out 4+ applications and write 10+ essays to go with those applications. Probably one of the most important things is to figure out your deadlines early, so you can properly budget your time. This is where an expert consultant is worth their weight in Gold. They can keep you on track, and ensure you’re using your time as efficiently as possible. Our Essay workshops help students with an overall plan to meet the requirements of essay prompts from the schools they are applying to.
Plan Ahead for Success!
Why the new FAFSA? It's a great question. The new FAFSA will launch three months earlier than it used to in the past. It now opens October 1st, 2016 for class of 2017.
High school seniors are applying for financial aid a full year before their first year of college. It also means that they will be dealing with financial aid forms at the same time as admission applications. Plus, the new FAFSA is based off of prior-prior-year tax information, meaning that class of 2017’s financial aid forms will be asking for 2015 tax year numbers. What does this mean for you?
It means that you must plan early! Parents of students who are in the class of 2018, now is the time to make financial decisions that will affect your students financial aid awards.
Keep in mind, the FAFSA is only one part of the financial aid process. To ensure the best outcome financially and academically, you need a comprehensive plan for college. Getting professional help can save you stress, time, and money!
1. American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC): The AOTC, which was called the Hope Scholarship credit in a previous reincarnation, has been extended through 2017. The maximum annual credit is $2,500. Notably, the AOTC may be claimed for every student in the family. For example, if you have two kids in college at the same time, the maximum credit for the family is $5,000. Also, the credit is currently available for four year in college. In the past, it was limited two years.
However, the AOTC for 2015 is phased out for single filers between $80,000 of
$90.000 of MAGI. The phaseout range for joint filers is between $160,000 and $180,000 of MAGI. Note that these amounts are not indexed for inflation.
2. Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC): The tax law provision for LLC is permanent, so extensions aren’t a concern. But the downside is the maximum credit is only $2,000 as opposed to the maximum $2,500 AOTC. Even worse, the maximum LLC credit applies to each taxpayer. Therefore, for those parents with two children in school at the same time, the maximum credit is still $2,000.
What’s more, the LLC is subject to phaseout rules at even lower levels than the AOTC. The phase-out range for 2015 is between $55,000 to $65,000 of MAGI for single filers and $110,000 to $130,000 for joint filers. At least these limits are indexed annually for inflation.
3. Tuition-and-fees deduction: Previously, you could claim an above-the-line deduction of $4,00 or $2,000 for tuition and related fees. (There was no in-between or other deduction amounts allowed.) The $4,000 deduction for single filers was available for a MAGI up to $65,000, while the $2,000 deduction could be claimed for an MAGI between $65,000 and $80,000. The $4,000 deduction for joint filers was limited to those with an MAGI up to $130,000. Joint filers with an MAGI between $130,000 and $160,000 could claim the $2,000 deduction.
I had a family in to see me in the office yesterday and they told me that they were worried. They were talking to some of their friends who sent their students off to college last year, and their friends revealed that their students did not get in to their top picks ... and on top of that ... they did not even get a good aid package at their safety school! "What's the deal with that?", they asked.
It's simple ... their student applied to colleges where they were not a good academic fit
. They were not really qualified to attend the schools they applied to. "But why didn't their safety school give them any aid?", they asked.
Simple again ... their safety school knew they were the safety school. That school knew that the only reason for you attending, was that you didn't get into the other schools. Why should they give you a lucrative aid package when you consider them the school of last resort?
Colleges factor in your "display of interest" in their admissions and aid award decisions. It's also known as Demonstrated interest. It refers to the interactions initiated by college applicants with colleges they apply to. These interactions include:
Contacting the admissions office
Social media interaction
and others things like correspondence by email and phone.
Some colleges use demonstrated interest as a way to gage a student's likelihood of enrolling. Offering admissions to students with demonstrated interest means lower admissions/recruiting costs for the college since they can establish their freshman class sooner and are less likely to lose students to transferring.The Chronicle of Higher Education
reports that from 2003 to 2006, the percentage of colleges rating demonstrated interest as a "considerably important" factor increased to 21 percent from 7 percent, according to an annual survey by the National Association for College Admission Counseling. Since then, that number has held steady (another 27 percent of colleges now deem it "moderately important").
For the parents referenced above; they could have avoided the whole thing by creating a comprehensive college plan. Their students should never have applied to a list of schools where their chance of acceptance was low. Building a good list of viable colleges, that grant good aid packages, and building competition between the schools for the student is crucial to ensuring success in college and making it affordable.
If you'd like to discuss how to create a comprehensive plan for your student, please call us at The College Advisor at 866-244-9971 or go to our website at www.PlanForCollegeAid.com
US News and World Reports names Princeton University in New Jersey, the Number One National University.Total undergraduate enrollment: 5,391
2015-2016 tuition and fees:$43,450
Regular decision application deadline: Jan. 1
More about Princeton University
Colleges want to appear to be very selective. Let's face it, if it's tough to get in .... that just wants us want it more ... RIGHT?
Did you know that if you go on a tour at an Ivy school like Yale or Princeton, they will encourage you to apply ... even if they know that you will not likely be admitted? If you apply it will increase the number of applicants; but they will still admit the same number of students. This will make that school appear to be more selective.
The fact that the competition is keen has more -- if not everything -- to do with the sheer number of students applying than it does with the college’s academic standing. Not many years ago, colleges had to struggle to fill seats. Today, a college looking to welcome a Freshman class of 3,000 may have over 40,000 applicants. You do the math!
If you live in New England, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) offers the Shaw-Worth Memorial Scholarship. It awards $2,500 tuition assistance to the college or university where the student will be attending. The HSUS considers having a humane attitude and desire to be of service more important than academic record or monetary need.Foodies
For those planning on majoring in pastry culinary arts or food sciences, the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA) offers a $1000 scholarship per academic year to member-employees for skill development, professional certifications and other work-related training.Especially for Twins
Twins can get ‘two for the price of one’ funding if they both attend Lake Erie College, of Painesville, Ohio. The full-tuition Lake Erie Twins Scholarship pays for up to 18 hours each semester and is awarded on a 50-50 basis provided both twins are students at Lake Erie and are full-time students, as well as on cumulative GPAs and SAT or ACT scores.Filmmakers
The field of cinematography offers very well-paying jobs for those with the right training and an eye for camera work. Student filmmakers may be interested in applying for the KODAK Student Cinematography Scholarship Award, where they will be judged solely on their film-making skills. Nomination of potential candidates is done by the student’s school and includes cash prizes as well as KODAK Film Product grants for future cinematic projects.Outside the Box
The Davidson Institute for Talent Development offers Davidson Fellows scholarships in the amounts of $10,000, $25,000 and $50,000 for extremely gifted students in the fields of Engineering, Science, Technology, Mathematics, Literature, Music or Philosophy plus an intriguing category: Outside the Box. Visit the links to learn more about application and requirements.Top Shelf
Are any of your prospective students tall? If so, then Tall Clubs International offers up to $1,000 in annual scholarship money for students who meet height requirements (minimum height of 5’10” for women and 6”2” for men) as well as under age 21 when first beginning college in the fall.Trivia Masters
A student who knows a little bit about everything may qualify for a scholarship
from the Common Knowledge Scholarship Foundation. What’s noteworthy is that the awards, which can range from $250 to $2,500, aren’t limited to high schoolers and no high GPA is necessary.
Let your prospective students know that there’s more than one way to find the money for school expenses beyond what federal and state aid might bring. Keeping track of all the choices and ensuring students get the help needed isn’t easy, however. Find out about better ways to track and improve your financial aid department’s compliance rates while saving money (and your staff’s sanity) as you help students march to their own drummer.
Information gathered from CampusLogic blog
Visit our website at www.PlanForCollegeAid.com
to learn more about qualifying for academic and merit scholarships.
Impact of the Decreases in the Asset Protection Allowance
Every $10,000 decrease in the asset protection allowance may cut a student’s financial aid eligibility by as much as $564. So, the $33,700 decrease in the asset protection allowance for a 48-year-old parent from 2009-2010 to 2016-2017 may decrease a student’s eligibility for need-based financial aid by as much as $1,900. For a dependent student whose parent is 65 years old, the $54,400 decrease in the asset protection allowance from 2009-2010 to 2016-2017 may reduce aid eligibility by as much as $3,068.
The decrease in aid eligibility for independent students without dependents other than a spouse is similar. The decrease in aid eligibility for independent students with dependents other than a spouse is not as severe, up to $329 per $10,000 decrease in the asset protection allowance.
The asset protection allowance is now so low that it does not protect basic assets from being assessed by the federal financial aid formula. For example, personal finance experts recommend that people save at least 6 months’ salary in an emergency fund to cover unforeseen expenses and job loss. The asset protection allowance now covers only a portion of the money in the typical parents’ emergency fund.
The asset protection allowance also does not protect money that parents have saved to pay for their children’s college education. The average amount of money in a 529 college savings plan was $20,474 as of December 31, 2014, according to the College Savings Plan Network, an amount greater than the asset protection allowance for most parents of college-age children.
Low-income students may not be affected by the decrease in the asset protection allowance because of the Simplified Needs Test. The Simplified Needs Test disregards all assets on the applicant’s FAFSA if the parents (or the student and spouse, in the case of an independent student) have an adjusted gross income (AGI) less than $50,000 and either were eligible to file IRS Form 1040A or IRS Form 1040EZ or someone in the household qualified for certain federal means-tested benefits during the last two calendar years (e.g., Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families(TANF), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC) or the Free and Reduced Price School Lunch Program). So, the decrease in the asset protection allowance mainly affects middle-income and high-income students who don’t qualify for the Simplified Needs Test.
Cause of the Decreases in the Asset Protection Allowance. The asset protection allowance tables are revised annually according to rules specified by the Higher Education Act of 1965 in 20 USC 1087rr(d). The asset protection allowance depends to a great extent on the difference between the current moderate family income and the current average Social Security retirement benefits, which can change significantly from one year to the next. When average Social Security retirement benefits increase faster than the increase in a moderate family income, the gap is smaller, leading to a smaller asset protection allowance. The moderate family income has been flat or decreasing since 2009-2010, while the average Social Security retirement benefit has continued to increase, causing a sharp decline in the asset protection allowance.
If current trends continue, the asset protection allowance will disappear entirely in just a few more years.
Since the asset protection allowance depends on current income and retirement benefit figures, it can vary significantly from one year to the next. Even college financial aid professionals often find this lack of stability in the asset protection allowance to be confusing. If you do not know your EFC or your families Asset Protection allowance, please contact The College Advisor. We will provide this information to you Free of charge.
In addition, the asset protection allowance is based on a net present value calculation that involves unrealistic assumptions, such as a 6% annual inflation rate, an 8% rate of return on an annuity and a 6% sales commission on an annuity. The annual inflation rate was last at or above 6% in 1982. The average inflation rate was 2.4% over the last 25 years and 3.8% over the last 40 years. The rate of return on an annuity is closer to 2% to 3%.
- this post is an edited version originally published on eadvisors.com