Wednesday’s Parent: 5 questions to ask about financial aid front loading

Front loading financial aid awards. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Front loading financial aid awards. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

If you think your washing machine is the only front loader, watch out because your college may be taking you to the cleaners. Front loading happens when colleges make their most generous financial aid award offers to applicants as a lure to attend. When students return the following year they may find their school has dropped their previously awarded grants and scholarships. Thousands of dollars may have been lost to the common practice of front loading.

“About half of all colleges front-load their grants, according to financial aid expert Mark Kantrowitz, who analyzed data from the National Center for Education Statistic’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System,” according to DailyFinance.

The lesson for parents and their college-bound students is to carefully scrutinize, analyze and question each item in their financial aid awards before bothering to compare one college’s offer to another. It may turn out that freshman year is a best deal at one place but if the total years until graduation are tallied, another choice may be the better bargain. Here are five questions to ask the college financial aid officer:

Is the grant/scholarship renewable and if so for how many years? What you want is the money to continue until the student graduates. Bear in mind it is taking longer, four to six years, for those who graduate to do so. Find out the maximum number of times the award will be made.

What are the strings attached to keeping the grant/scholarship? It’s important to understand the terms of receiving free money awards before acceptance to make sure the student can and will perform them. He may have to keep his grades up, play an instrument, or be a member on a team. Find out the eligibility requirements each year including any additional paperwork necessary to keep them.

If the grant/scholarship is lost, what will replace it? Often student loans are the college’s substitution plan. However, there may be other grants/scholarships available. Ask about them and the application process. Be prepared to continue searching for these and have a college finance Plan B.

Will the college bill increase in following years and if so, by how much? Those renewable grants/scholarships may no longer cover the same portion of college costs if tuition rises. See what if any cost components like tuition/fees and room/board are capped or held at the freshmen level.

Will the grant/scholarship be increased to keep pace with any raised college costs? Be aware most colleges will not match tuition increases or increase free money aid when tuition rates increase. However, the college bill must continue to be paid.

Read Suzanne’s post: It’s Financial Aid Award Season

READ MORE:

Finding and winning scholarships hiding in plain sight

3 Flavors of FREE College Money

Wednesday’s Parent: Cost, loan-fearsome four-letter college words

Wednesday’s Parent: 4 strings attached to FREE financial aid

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Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

The bonus is on the fourth Wednesday of each month when Suzanne and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound.

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from www.pocsmom.com to http://www.parentscountdowntocollegecoach.com/ and vice versa.

Scholarship Mom Alert: Life Lessons College Scholarship Program

Scholarship Mom Alert, Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Scholarship Mom Alert, Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

College prep is about opening a teen’s eyes to future possibilities. The last thing the college-bound want to think about is human mortality. Sadly, there are college-bound students who are preparing for higher education after the loss of a parent. They encounter another layer of stresses and issues on top of the usual college prep anxiety.

College Scholarship Expert Monica L. Matthews has found a scholarship that can can alleviate some of their financial pressures. She says, “A total of $225,000 in scholarship money is available.”

Read Monica’s post:

 Life Lessons College Scholarship Program

for details about eligibility and the application. Pay close attention to her Winning Tips. Fortunately, most students do not qualify for this scholarship. If you are one of these, please share this info with someone who does.

Good Luck to all applicants!!!

Wednesday’s Parent: Getting the best out of college visits

Campus this way. Pjhoto by Wendy David-Gaines

Campus this way. Pjhoto by Wendy David-Gaines

The purpose of a college visit is to decide whether or not to attend if given the opportunity. It can help refine the college list, determine whether to submit an admission application, and choose to accept an admission offer. It can improve chances for admission by demonstrating interest in a school and provide fodder for essays asking students to explain why they want to attend. It’s also why college visits are best when students and parents linger longer and go back to revisit.

Such plans often go awry because students can react emotionally. They may want to leave the college tour after the first stop or announce the school is off the list before you have a chance to park the car. They may change their mind later and want to go back because they re-researched after they chose a different major or decide their original second choice college is now number one after Admitted Student open houses.

Don’t expect a reasonable explanation. Ask your student why and he’ll probably just shrug. How does a teen tell mom that the campus gave him the creeps or dad there was not one current student who shared her views that a fave campus activity was lame? Or that firmly voiced beliefs did a 180 in a matter of months?

Smooth this bumpy ride with a frank parent-student team college visit talk. Each family member can describe expectations and brainstorm ground rules. Here are some more helpful tips:

A better way to visit colleges

Top 10 nonacademic reasons why parents and students visit colleges

Top 10 questions to ask on college visits

Wednesday’s Parent: Parent role in college visits

Wednesday’s Parent: Collegecations

Read Suzanne’s post: My College Visit Experiences

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Tonight is Wednesday’s Parent night (the fourth Wednesday of each month) on #CampusChat, Wednesday, February 25, 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will talk with Z. Kelly Queijo, Founder and President of Smart College Visit and #CampusChat and our team of college parent experts. Please join @SuzanneShaffer @collegevisit and me-@pocsmom and bring your questions and comments.

RECAP: Don’t worry if you missed any college visit pointers from our chat. Read our transcript: #CampusChat Recap 2/25/15: Planning the Perfect College Visit.

Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from http://www.pocsmom.com to http://www.parentscountdowntocollegecoach.com/ and vice versa.

Scholarship Mom Alert: Nordstrom College Scholarship Program

Department stores can sponsor scholarships. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Department stores can sponsor scholarships. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Clothing, bedding, appliances, and school supplies are commonly found on a college-bound student’s shopping list. But your favorite department store may offer more than goods for sale. Some sponsor college scholarships, too.

College Scholarship Expert Monica L. Matthews has done the research and found a scholarship sponsored by the company that includes Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack stores. The $10,000 Nordstrom Scholarship program is open to 80 high school juniors. Monica describes the other eligibility retirements and her DON’T MISS Winning Tips in her post:

Nordstrom College Scholarship for High School Juniors

Since this scholarship is limited to high school juniors, there is less competition. Further increase your chances of winning by following Monica’s Winning Tips. They will help make your scholarship application stand out.

Good Luck!!!

Wednesday’s Parent: 5 surprising uses of a college prep resume

Resume for college prep. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Resume for college prep. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Many parents and students understand the importance of a resume for job applications but few use it as a major college prep tool. If your college-bound child hasn’t composed one yet, suggest he do it now. Then read the following five tips to use a resume for college preparation. Go back and reread the curriculum vitae. You will never look at a resume in the same way again.

Use a resume for planning. It is a great grounding tool for assessing where you are and where you want to be. Find the gaps on your resume that need to be filled. Think about what academic and extracurricular experiences when added would make a reader take positive notice. Check the school, college and local newspaper for community service, club, and activity ideas. Bring the resume to consult with your school counselor, teachers and mentors for course selection, test preparation, college and scholarship searches. Match your future goals and current interests when choosing.

Use a resume as a quick college sorting tool. A resume has a factual record of qualifications via accomplishments. Measure them objectively against college requirements. Do you meet, exceed or fall short as compared to the average admitted student? The answer becomes a list of target/match, safety and reach schools (see 4 steps to create a personal college ranking list and Wednesday’s Parent: 2 phases, 3 points of the forming a college list Part 1).

Use a resume to be objective. Be honest, would you pick you? Does the resume convince you that you are an overall great match for what you are seeking (see above: planning)? If not, it may not be the substance that is lacking but the form in which it is presented. Are there too many bullet points, too few action or descriptive words, missing hyperlinks, or grammar/spelling errors? Read it out loud to ensure the font is easily read and it captures the spirit of your achievements. Then check your attitude, social media and appearance. All of these and your resume should be on the same page.

Use a resume for college and scholarship applications. In addition to academic records and essays, college applications and many private outside scholarship sponsors want to know about work experience, clubs, activities, honors, memberships and offices held. It will be easier to complete your applications because all of this info is contained in a resume.

Use a resume to network. Ask a teacher, potential employer, local community leader, professional association president and government representative for feedback on your resume. Write a thank you note for his time and suggestions. Well done, you have an important contact, helpful info, and added to your own network!

If your student hasn’t started a resume, recommend she whip one up ASAP and continue to update it. You don’t want to forget to include something meaningful and you want to continue to maintain perspective.

Read Suzanne’s post: The High School Resume-Getting to the Point 

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Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

The bonus is on the fourth Wednesday of each month when Suzanne and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound.

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from www.pocsmom.com to http://www.parentscountdowntocollegecoach.com/ and vice versa.

Scholarship Mom Alert: Quick, easy money college scholarships

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 11.30.22 AMScholarship searches can take a lot of time, especially to find those that don’t demand a lot of effort to complete. College Scholarship Expert Monica L. Matthews is featuring a cool Infographic that lists 14 easy money and quick college scholarship contests and busts 6 common scholarship myths. You will want to read her post and the Infographic, then dive right into the college scholarship money pool.

Read Monica’s Quick and Easy College Scholarships

To make sure you can fit scholarship and college searches and the rest of the college prep to-do list into your busy schedule, read my Wednesday’s Parent: Best ways to manage college prep time.

Good Luck!!!

Wednesday’s Parent: Best ways to manage college prep time

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 5.37.30 PM“If you want something done, ask a busy person.” This famous Benjamin Franklin quote was paraphrased by Lucille Ball. “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. The more things you do, the more you can do,” she explained. However, this doesn’t always work out so well when it comes to the college prep to-do list.

Many parents and students are already overloaded. Adding college prep chores can overwhelm, leading to burnout and seniorities. Fortunately, there is a solution for families who are ready to make hard choices, get organized, and stick with a time management plan.

I wrote a 3 easy step college-bound time management addressing the specific issues the college-bound face. Here’s the plan outline and some examples of what a student can do given an extra hour for college-prep. The specifics of how to carry out the 3 step plan is here. Here are my five keys to successful time management of an ultra busy college prep schedule.

I’m a big proponent of good organizational and time management skills becoming part of a healthy life-style now, in college and beyond. Finding moments of joy every day to make you smile is a great stress reliever and motivator for personal and business success. Prioritize some downtime to laugh, relax and refresh each day.

Having trouble getting started? Read my college prep action plan.

Here are my 6 ways to prevent college-bound burnout.

Still having trouble getting motivated? Here are my 6 great examples to cure Senioritis.

Read Suzanne’s post: Time Management and Your Teen 

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Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

The bonus is on the fourth Wednesday of each month when Suzanne and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound.

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from www.pocsmom.com to http://www.parentscountdowntocollegecoach.com/ and vice versa.

Scholarship Mom Alert: Heroes’ Legacy College Scholarship

Heroes' Legacy College Scholarship. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Heroes’ Legacy College Scholarship. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Here’s a scholarship that honors heroes via awards to their dependent unmarried children under age 23. Heroes include those fallen in battle and all who died or become disabled through their active military service since September 11, 2001.

The Heroes’ Legacy College Scholarship has specific qualifying requirements. College Scholarship Expert Monica L. Matthews explains what applicants should do in her Winning Tips.

Read her detailed post and tips here:

Heroes’ Legacy College Scholarship

Monica has thoroughly reviewed and researched this scholarship so interested students can benefit greatly from her extensive scholarship knowledge.

Good Luck!!!

Wednesday’s Parent: 6 reasons to think grad school in college search

Adding grad school to college list. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Adding grad school to college list. Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

There are many factors students consider when composing a college list or choosing a college to attend but graduate school is often not one of them. That omission can be costly for students who decide to continue their higher education beyond a bachelor’s degree (B.A.). Here are six reasons why your college-bound student should think grad school before saying yes to a college:

  1. Careers Certain careers require advanced degrees beyond a B.A. If a student is considering such a field, checking graduate school applicant qualifications makes sense. Students can discover right away if a college has the courses, majors and internships necessary to best prepare for the next admission process.
  2. Grad school acceptance Graduating from college is not an automatic admission into graduate school. It can be even more competitive than undergraduate programs. Students can check a college’s stats for number of students attending graduate/professional schools to gauge how successful past grads have been to gain admittance into graduate schools and programs.
  3. Undergrad/Grad school programs Many undergrad schools offer postbaccalaureate programs. Students can take a look at graduate curricula while researching undergrad academic programs. They can also find out the acceptance rate of undergrad students gaining admission to their own school’s grad programs.
  4. Combined undergrad/grad programs Some schools offer combined degree programs that put students on the fast track to obtain their advanced degree. This is a great deal for students sure of their career goals because they achieve their college and career dreams in less time thereby shaving college expenses.
  5. Costs Graduate degrees can be much more expensive than the dollars shelled out to earn an undergrad diploma. When considering college costs, students can tally what they expect by combining the number of years necessary to earn the desired undergrad and grad degrees. Students can decide to make it all affordable and to lower costs by setting priorities when apportioning dollars between college and graduate school choices. Read Planning a Budget for Grad School for tips on preparing financially for grad school.
  6. Financial aid Students shouldn’t expect need-based and merit-based aid to be the same offered to those studying for a B.A. Federal financial aid programs for graduate students consist of student loans with hardly any exceptions unless limited to certain occupations or work/study programs. Some states and schools may offer a few fellowships and the latter may have research or teaching assistant positions for grad students. Some professional, scholarly and other organizations may sponsor scholarship contests but the majority of such programs are solely for undergrads. A few universities discount their grad tuition for their own undergrads under certain circumstances. it can pay in the future to investigate these options now.

Graduate school is very different from college. It’s no longer about gaining knowledge via a major, minor and general graduation requirements but concentrating on a selected field of study. The college-bound can prepare for both at the start of the college process.

Read Suzanne’s postIs Grad School in Your Teen’s Future?

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Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

The bonus is on the fourth Wednesday of each month when Suzanne and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound. 

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from www.pocsmom.com to http://www.parentscountdowntocollegecoach.com/ and vice versa.

Scholarship Mom Alert: Buick Achievers College Scholarship

Gain financial speed with a renewable scholarship Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

Gain financial speed with a renewable scholarship Photo by Wendy David-Gaines

When most students think about winning a college scholarship, they expect a one-time award. However, some scholarships are renewable. That means the award is a gift that keeps on giving!

College Scholarship Expert Monica L. Matthews did the research and found a renewable scholarship called the Buick Achievers College Scholarship. All winners have to do is maintain a cumulative 3.0 grade point average (GPA on a 4.0 scale), full-time enrollment and continue to major in an eligible field of study, and their scholarship will be renewed up to 4 years plus one additional year if entering a qualified five-year engineering program.

For scholarship details, including a list of eligible fields of study, and Monica’s exclusive “Winning Tips” read her post ASAP:

Buick Achievers College Scholarship

Have fun using Monica’s suggestions when applying and

Good Luck!!!