Many families with high school seniors have started and will begin to compare financial aid packages. Unfortunately, the early returns for aid now are not looking as generous as in past years.
Some believe that colleges are nervous about major changes regarding federal aid and the way it is distributed. Colleges may be concerned that in future years, they may have to dig into their endowments.
When financial aid letters do arrive, the different kinds of aid that make up the package can be confusing. There will be many questions, such as "What has to be repaid? What are the interest rates and terms for loans? Which items are renewable? What is the true cost with all the fees and living expenses?" And before families make their final decision, there are some critical things they need to know:
What is the TOTAL Cost?
Families need to look closely at the total cost of each college (tuition, room, board, fees, books, travel). They then need to subtract the amount of financial aid awarded to determine what the out of pocket expenses will be. Most schools will not include fees and living expenses on their award letters, thus the overall cost looks lower than it is.
What Has to be Repaid?
Families should not only worry about the total amount of their award. They need to know how much debt a student will graduate with; this should be a key factor in their assessment. So what steps should be taken?
First separate out money which does not have to be paid back, like grants, scholarships, merit awards and tuition reductions. Then make sure to check the terms of each portion of the package to determine which are renewable for future years. Next, look at the work study and loans. Side note: work study is paid to you throughout the year. Compare the amount of aid that does not have to be repaid across all your colleges. Then, look at the loans as a separate amount.
Appealing the Offer
What? Appeal? Most families don’t realize it, but you can appeal your financial aid offer. Colleges usually reserve 10-15% of their financial aid pool for appeals. Work with our consultants, and wecan guide you on how to appeal and ask for more money. Note: Colleges will offer more money in an appeal, but it will rarely be the full amount requested.
Filling the Gaps
For many students, even after an appeal, there will be a gap between what they can afford and what they receive in aid. In some cases, it can mean looking at outside loans. Ask the financial aid office at your desired college for their recommendations. They may have approved lenders with good interest rates on loans. Private scholarships are another option, but be sure to check the terms of your financial aid package before accepting outside scholarship money. You are required to report all scholarship sources to your college. Also, keep in mind that private scholarships are usually just for one year vs. college-based aid which will often be renewed. Lee Academia Consultants can guide you in scholarship searches and applications.
Yes, we know the 2014-2015 Common Application will not officially be live until August 1st, however, as we have been telling our students, the essay prompts this year have not changed from last year's application.
So, rising seniors, what are you waiting for? Students can (and should!) get started on their essays now.
Common Application Prompts
Do you (the student) need help writing an essay that will improve your admissions odds?
Contact us today! We will guide you through everything you need to know about writing a great college application essay.
Writing a Compelling College Essay in 1-Day!
Our 1-day course (5 hours, with 30 minute break included) will include:
Student Name, High School, Home Address, Phone Number, Email Address
Credit Card Number (MC or Visa)
Name on Card
Early Registration (register before August 1 at 7pm EST): only $450
Regular Registration (begins August 2): $550
*Online courses are available, as well. Contact us for more details.
Questions? Call 646.266.6084
The cost of a college education is one of the second largest financial investment next to purchasing a home. Currently, many private tuitions range between $180,000 and $250,000, and state governments have been decreasing their funding. Your financial decisions will benefit from our professional guidance.
As many students choose a college without adequate investigation and research regarding what the college has to offer them, research shows that one out of three college students leave or transfer to another college and five out of ten students require five or more years to earn a degree. Our objective assessment of the student’s needs at Lee Academia help us to use current research beyond website information to find the right “student-college fit”.
Many colleges have become more selective and Lee Academia's College Consultants understand what is needed for top students to gain admissions. However, finding the right college for the average or learning differences students is just as important. Many less competitive colleges have higher drop out rates and lower graduation rates, therefore it is essential we carefully place average students in appropriate educational settings.
High school counselors – both in public and private institutions – are so overwhelmed with student caseloads, federally mandated paperwork for special needs students, dealing with disciplinary situations, and scheduling courses. There is little time left for quality personal contact between counselor and the student applying to college. Guidance counselors will write a letter of recommendation, assemble a transcript, and include a student profile in the college packet – nothing more.
For more information and to contact us for a consultation: click here.
Some colleges were accused of violating the federal law that bars institutions from requiring student-aid forms other than the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, according to an investigation by Congressional Democrats.
111 institutions were identified that appeared to be establishing additional requirements for students to complete costly additional forms, such as College Board's CSIC/Financial Aid Profile. Of the 111 colleges identified, 58 of them explicitly stated that applicants must submit the Profile form to secure any financial aid. The other schools directed applicants to submit both the FAFSA and the Profile to obtain aid, though they did not specify what each form was used to assess.
While more than 200 institutions use the Profile to evaluate students' eligibility for institutional aid, they also asked for more detailed and complicated financial questions than does the FAFSA and students had to pay a fee to submit it. President of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, said he doubted the colleges were withholding federal aid from students who had failed to complete the Profile, but he acknowledged that some of their websites could be clearer. He also mentioned that if there was a practice where schools would not award federal aid, then the schools should be held accountable. More likely it would need to be more clear on the consumer-information piece.
For more guidance and information about the FAFSA, tuition cost, or financial aid process, contact Lee Academia financial consultants can help. Contact us now.
By 2018, 63% of all job openings will require a post-secondary education.
In other words, almost 2 in every 3 jobs will be COMPLETELY CLOSED to you if you don’t have a college degree.
And considering that those with a college education make an average of 64% more than those who don’t...This fact should really freak you out.
If you haven’t started earning college degree, or if you took classes but never finished, the time to take action is NOW.
Lee Academia experts can guide you through choosing degree programs available, and help you qualify for government grants or scholarships.
With approximately 450 boarding schools in 2012 and tuition at these schools ranging from free (yes, free!) to well over $50,000 per year, many parents and students choose to go to boarding schools.
There are plenty of reasons why attending an independent school is a great idea. With boarding school experiences adding another dimension because it involves the student 24/7 for weeks at a time; the academics, athletics and extracurricular activities are interwoven into a student's schedule in a remarkably balanced way. So whether a coed school or a boys' school or girls' school is chosen, you will find a boarding school which meets your requirements. Additionally, you can find boarding schools that offer military training, educating students with learning differences and special needs.
Financial aid is given at several boarding schools with general financial aid packages.
Everyone boarding school is unique so ranks do not matter there. What does matter is finding the school which best fits the child. Find the right boarding school for a child is one of the most important and expensive decisions you will ever have to make, similar to the college process.
Parents and students can research thoroughly on their own, only to find that most websites look alike and very few give information on the profile of typical accepted students. Families who want the guidance often turn to independent educational consultants, like Lee Academia's Educational Consultants, who have worked with over 50 students and parents this past admissions cycle.
These professionals are paid by the families to advise them on the boarding school search and admissions process. Many offer full service comprehensive packages that span over a year’s time, and others have shorter packages or an hourly rate. A typical consultation will start with a focus on the student’s background and interest in boarding school; this includes a review of his transcript, testing, activities, interests, and academic successes and challenges of the past. Lee Academia's professional consultant will talk with the student and parents about goals for the future and what they hope to get out of the boarding school experience. We have given examples of schools that are nurturing or offer learning support, or those which give extra help to students when they need it. We discuss the pros and cons of the more rigorous schools, or might help a family decide whether to repeat a year. Lee Academia's professionals know the inside scoop on boarding schools, and they get this through their campus visits, meetings with admissions officers, and by seeing the successes of the students who they place at schools. We help families determine a list of schools to apply to, and this discussion customarily takes many months, but in certain cases can be done within one meeting.
For information or a consultation to see if boarding schools are right for you or your child, contact us.
Stay tuned to our success and admissions results, as they will be posted up on the website as we receive them.
Student loan rate hike stopped, but that doesn't make college affordable. The lower interest rates on student loans don't do much to reduce the spiraling cost of a college education.
Congress has finally agreed on legislation to keep interest rates on federal student loans from doubling to 6.8 percent this school year. The Senate passed a compromise bill last week that ties federal student loan rates to the yield on 10-year Treasury notes. That means undergraduates will pay an interest rate of 3.86 percent on loans taken out this year; grad students will pay 5.41 percent.
These interest rates will increase as the economy improves, but the legislation caps interest rates for undergrads at 8.25 percent.
Keeping interest rates on student loans from rising won't do much to make a college education affordable. In fact, it may make it worse, some conservatives argue. Some believe that the federal government is contributing to the rapid increase in college tuition.
Student loan debt accounts for 36 percent of Americans' total non-housing debt, a bigger share than auto loans or credit card debt.
According to the College Board, it cost an average of $22,261 for students to attend an in-state public college last year; the "moderate" budget for a private college averaged $43,289. With prices like that, it's no wonder student loan debt is exploding. And it's no wonder that politicians vow to do something about it.
In his economic speech last week, President Barack Obama promised to "lay out an aggressive strategy to shake up the system, tackle rising costs, and improve value for middle-class students and their families. It is critical that we make sure that college is affordable for every single American who’s willing to work for it."
For ways to start saving for college tuition, start planning with expert, Ms. Elisa Cheung, at FAConsultant_Elisa@gmail.com.
Why engage the services of a private college consultant?
Independent college consultants are
Rising High school Seniors...You're running out of time. Avoid the time crunch in the fall.
Here's what you should start to do:
1. Check deadlines: Get a calendar and start keeping track of deadlines for applications and financial aid. You'll to decide whether to apply early decision, early action or regular decision, if given those choices. When you apply early, the school might require that you submit your financial aid application far in advance, so check deadlines.
2. Get started on the essay: Writing the college essay is nerve-wracking. If you start now, you're more likely to be able to devote the time to do a great job.
If you are applying to a school that uses the Common Application, you can obtain a list of the new essay questions that was released in February.
While you can often use the same essay for multiple schools, be prepared to answer a college's supplemental questions.
3. Don't forget the supplemental materials: If you are an artist, musician, or actor, applying to colleges can be even more time consuming. You typically will have to send a résumé noting your artistic background and accomplishments, as well as a portfolio that can be captured on a CD or DVD. Start and finish your portfolio now.
4. Research: If you haven't begun researching schools, get started now. Start requesting admission materials from school websites. In addition, spend time on the college's admission website. You can find academic profiles of the freshmen class, notable facts about the school, information on financial aid and scholarships. There are many schools that will offer virtual tours and opportunities for online chats, so why not check it out?
Also, start looking online at a school's relevant academic departments.
5. Get Help: Whether you know it or not, most collegebound students are getting help from private educational consultants. Why? Getting into college has become more and more fierce, with thousands of students applying each year. Ask an Educational Consultant for help. Lee Academia's expert consultants are affordable and are certified in College counseling with over 10 years of experience and a successful track record of getting their students into their top choice matching colleges. So get guidance and help early.
Contributed by Douglas Lee, Case Western Reserve (Class of 2016)
Finding a job is easier than you may think. Across the campus, there are many departments, labs, and other outlets looking for students for work. Try to find a job that suits you and one you can work up to 10-12 hours a week. It is awfully grueling to work 20+ hours a week while also handling a full course load.
Also, remember to be a good employee. Work hard in your position, and especially in internships/research jobs. These first experiences may lead to full time jobs after graduation. Later on, it’s often who you know, not what you know.
Now, with all your hard earned money from your campus job, what are you going to do with it? You should open a banking account with a debit card to store all that money so you don’t have those Benjamins just lying around! Having a debit card may help curb your temptations and impulses because you can only spend what’s in your account.
Try opening a bank that is local to your college town. You may have already opened a bank account back home, but if there aren’t many branches or ATMs around your campus, that account won’t do you much good.
Great, with a well-paying campus job and a bank account to store those $9.50/hour wages, the next step is to set up a monthly budget for yourself. Set up a monthly and weekly budget and keep track of your spending. It is very easy to lose track of your spending, with weekend outings with friends, local concerts, and great restaurants tempting you to empty your wallet.
You don’t necessarily have to spend money to have fun in college. Be on the lookout for campus activities / economical outings that your school provides.
Remember to keep track of deadlines and paperwork to hand in. Your financial aid may decrease substantially if you miss those important due dates. You don’t want to lose your chance at those tens of thousands of dollars that you have already been awarded just because you forgot about a deadline. Also, you may not get to register for classes in time, which only leads to disaster.
You never want to be in a rush for these financial aid matters because mistakes can be made in these situations, so make sure to be prepared.
This last tip may seem the most intimidating for students who have never applied for scholarships before. There are thousands of scholarships out there and they can range from a couple hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. Don’t disregard the scholarships with smaller awards, as those will be easier to attain since they have a smaller applicant pool.
Hey, getting $500 for writing an essay about a random topic, or spending a little time to fill out an application and including a resume to earn a thousand big ones sounds
*For any Financial Aid Assistance, contact FAConsultant_Elisa@gmail.com.
Stephenie, having been a tutor/instructor/mentor since 1996, discovered her passion and founded Lee Academia Educational Consulting, LLC. after she left the dental and medical field. She loves teaching/mentoring and counseling her students. Her passion lies in educating others and helping them pursue their educational path. Today, certified in College Counseling and with more than 10 years of experience, Stephenie and her team continues to blog about current updated educational news and events.
Lee Academia Educational Consulting, LLC