A new undergraduate scholarship program available to high-performing high school seniors with financial need from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. Check out all the details of this excellent opportunity here. Hat tip: Evan Read via College Admissions Counselors.
Paying for College
Submit a 140 character response about how technology has helped with the education system and you could win one of four $500 scholarships for the upcoming school year. The Tweet For Success Scholarship is sponsored by DialMyCalls, which provides mass notification services to schools. "Hello, snow day!" Find all the info and enter here. And, FYI, while you will need to tweet your message to @DialMyCalls, you do not need to have your own Twitter account to do so or to enter to win. Good luck!
A new study from Sallie Mae, How America Pays for College 2013, evaluates how families view and manage the cost of a college education today. Among the findings:
- Increasing optimism about the value of college. A higher percentage of parents than in previous years — 85% — express an unwavering belief that college is an investment in their child's future.
- A post-recession cost consciousness. Parent out-of-pocket spending has decreased 35% since 2010. Overall, parents now fund approximately one-quarter of college expenses, down from a peak of one-third.
- A growing reliance on grants and scholarships. “Free” money is filling part of the gap left by lower parental contributions.
- Larger student contributions. Students are funding more of the college bill through borrowing and savings/income than they did five years ago.
And for more analysis of the survey, see "Holding the Line" in today's Inside Higher Ed.
As you head off into the summer, here's one last checklist. If you get some of these things done, you will be off to a good start when you return in the fall. And as a little added incentive, we've included links to prior posts with advice on each subject. Have a great vacation and make sure that in addition to researching colleges and writing your essays this summer, you rest, relax and recharge, as well.
We recently asked high school counselor Kelly Dunham what five things juniors should take care of before the school year ends and we thought we'd bring you her great advice here again. BTW, she added a kicker sixth item that is essential for a smooth college admissions process in your senior year!
What are the five most important things for juniors to do before the end of the school year?
Conference with their high school counselor or college counselor
ACT/SAT test prep and take ACT/SAT (hopefully twice)
Ask for teacher letters of recommendation
Have an honest conversation with parents about finances
Online college searches, local college fairs, visit college campuses
And one more:
Be aware of college admission requirements: required high school coursework, GPA, test scores, letters of rec, essays, etc.
For more information about applying to college, see College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step, including the recommendations in "Timeline: The Path to College."
When it comes to financial aid, it’s never too early to start learning about what is a very complex and important topic. All colleges are required by law to have a financial aid calculator (sometimes referred to as a net price calculator) available on their website. Financial aid calculators can provide an early understanding of what you will be asked to pay at individual colleges and what your aid award might look like.
So as you research colleges now and through the summer, check out the financial aid calculator for each school on your list as you’re surfing the colleges’ websites. Use the calculator to help you figure out what the colleges offer, as well as to start thinking about what you will need to do to make your choices work financially. If possible, try out the calculators with your parents.
Your results— the cost to you and the aid you may receive— may differ fairly significantly from calculator to calculator and from college to college. Just to see how things compare, try out the calculators at a few less expensive colleges and some more expensive ones. It can often be at least as affordable to attend a more expensive college that offers a strong financial aid program. Find out now, so you can select the colleges that work best for you while factoring in price, without ruling out options that might initially seem unaffordable.
It's decision time! Your financial aid award letters will usually arrive with your letters of acceptance, or soon thereafter. Even though you will be celebrating and contemplating your choices, you will also need to be focused and diligent about evaluating your financial aid offers. College advisor Alice Kleeman is back with advice for students and families and answers for your questions during this important time.
- You will often receive financial aid offers (also called "financial aid packages" or "financial aid award letters") with your admit letter or shortly thereafter. Review these offers carefully. Ask questions at your College and Career Center or Guidance Office if you don't understand your letters.
- Different colleges cost different amounts, present their costs in different ways, and offer different amounts of financial aid in different combinations. This can make it difficult to understand which combination of price and student aid award is best. Here are some tools for comparing financial aid awards:
Diane Stemper, Executive Director of Financial Aid at The Ohio State University, returns today with the second of a two-part post on comparing financial aid awards so that students and their families can be wise consumers and better understand what they are being offered and signing on for. Yesterday Stemper laid out the vocabulary and content of financial aid award letters along with a step-by-step plan for comparing aid awards. You can see Part One of Stemper's post here. Today, she has more advice for students and families on understanding aid awards as smart consumers, as well as guidance for interacting with financial aid offices and a resource list for tools that can help families in the comparison process.
· Colleges may state they meet “full need” – sounds great, but how much of that is loans?
· Are parent loans listed as part of the financial aid award? If so, it may look like you have sufficient financial aid to meet your costs, but part of this could be debt that your parents are incurring on top of your own student loan debt.
Last week, one of Kelly Dunham's students informed her that he had received notification he was waitlisted at one of the colleges to which he'd applied. He was asked to follow a link to let the university know if he was interested in staying on the waitlist. He selected the link and it took him to a pornography website. "Thank goodness, he is a student with a great sense of humor," says Dunham. "I contacted the university and the link was of course wrong! What are the chances?"
It's all in a day's work for Dunham -- though her days usually revolve around more prosaic problems like academic advising and college lists. As Counseling Department Coordinator for Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village, Colorado, in the Denver metropolitan area, Dunham is head of the department and also acts as one of ten counselors, who spend most of their time advising students on academics, social/emotional issues, and college. The largest high school west of the Mississippi River, Cherry Creek is home to 3500 students, 95% of whom go on to college.
We're pleased to share with you today an excellent piece by W. Kent Barnds, Vice President of Enrollment, Communication and Planning at Augustana College. Barnds sheds always welcome light on the concept and reality of the EFC or Expected Family Contribution, showing how it is possible that a student with an EFC of $15,000 and considering three colleges with the same price might be expected to pay $19,500 at one and $9,500 at another.