College Board

How Financial Aid Influences Students' Thinking

"To some extent, families and students are engaged in what appears to be naive or wishful thinking not only about how they will pay for college, but the kind and level of financial support they are likely to receive," according to a new poll from the College Board and Art & Science Group, LLC. Despite the federal requirement that colleges include net-price calculators on their websites, the studentPOLL study found that slightly more than half of the 1,461 students surveyed had ruled out colleges on the basis of the sticker price alone without considering their likely financial aid awards. At the same time, the poll found students also hold unrealistic expectations about the likelihood of receiving merit aid. 

Understanding financial aid is crucial for students and their families. Students and their families should start learning about and investigating financial aid as early as possible in the process so that opportunities aren't lost. The studentPoll study may provide some motivation. The poll findings and conclusions can be seen here.

Juniors: Preparing for the SAT or ACT


This marks the first in our weekly reminders for juniors starting the college application process. Each week, we'll be providing information, checklist items and advice on applying --  testing, researching colleges, first college visits and more.

First up?

Keep your eye out for an opportunity to take the PSAT or PLAN. The best preparation for the SAT and ACT is to challenge yourself with rigorous courses in the classroom and read, read, read.  But familiarity with the tests and practice can increase scores up to a point. The PSAT, offered by the College Board, and PLAN, offered by ACT, are practice tests meant to prepare you for the SAT and ACT. Your answers and the correct answers are available with the score report -- good feedback that will show you where you need to improve. The PSAT is offered every October by the College Board, but you register through your high school.  The PLAN is administered at the discretion of the high school or school district. Stay alert for announcements about the PSAT and PLAN and follow up. If you haven't heard of anyone taking these tests at your school, check with your guidance counselor about them. 

Seniors: It's Not Too Late to Test


This marks the first in our weekly reminders for seniors. Each week, we'll be providing information, checklist items and advice on applying to college --  testing, essays, deadlines, college visits, letters of recommendation and more.

First up?

It's not too late to take the SAT or ACT this fall.

SAT Deadlines:

Register by September 7th for the October 6th test

Register by October 4th for the November 3rd test

Register by November 1st for the December 1st test

You can register online for the SAT here

ACT Deadlines:

Register by September 21st for the October 27th test

Register by November 2nd for the December 8th test

You can register online for the ACT here

Or visit your high school college or guidance counselor for registration materials.

Remember, the best preparation for the SAT and ACT is to challenge yourself with rigorous courses in the classroom and read, read, read.  


We'll be posting for Juniors, as well. Look for our first item for the Class of 2014 tomorrow.

Walter Pineda, Miami Country Day School

Walter Pineda is paying it forward. The Associate Director of College Counseling at Miami Country Day School in Miami, Florida, is a first-generation college graduate who attended college through the help of a counselor. When his family emigrated to the United States when he was four years old, “I was at a disadvantage from other students,” says Pineda. “How to apply, what does it take, how to pay for it, what you do to pay for it – it was foreign to all of us. It was the help of a counselor and resources I could find in the library that enabled me to apply.”

After graduating from University of Rochester, Pineda began his own career in college counseling at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. Five years ago, he joined the staff at Miami Country Day, a diverse coeducational K through 12 school with approximately 975 students. The upper school has a strong college preparatory program that includes a commitment to community service — a culture that Pineda says he particularly appreciates.

As our Counselor of the Month, Pineda shares his advice for students and families here in our Q&A:

College Board Releases Guide for Undocumented Students

A guide for high-school students who are also illegal immigrants is now available from the College Board. Organized state-by-state, the 55-page guide provides information on admission, financial aid and scholarships, and support services for undocumented students. According to an article in The Miami Herald, James Montoya, vice president for relationship development at the College Board, the plan is the guide will be a "living document" with constantly updated information.

BigFuture, the College Board's New Website

The College Board, the not-for-profit organization whose programs include the SAT, AP tests, PSAT/NMSQT, and CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE, has launched a new website for high school students that includes a college search function, a scholarship search tool, and an action plan program for the application process. Click on the links to see what the Chronicle of Higher Education and New York Times' The Choice blog are saying about BigFuture. And let us know your thoughts about this new resource...

Things We Like: Free -- Great -- SAT Prep

The Khan Academy is an educational website that lets anyone “learn almost anything—for free.” Khan Academy boasts an online library of more than 3000 video micro-lectures on everything from algebra to venture capital and it now includes an entire section on SAT test prep, using the College Board's Official SAT Study Guide. In 10-minute videos, Khan works through each problem in the math sections of the study guide.  He recommends students take the practice tests on their own, grade them and then use the Academy videos to understand the problems they didn't solve correctly or simply to review their work.  We've been working through these videos ourselves and, while they may not be slick in their presentation, they provide clear, helpful, step-by-step instruction that feels one-on-one.  And, one more time… it's free. File this under "Things We Like."  

Chat Leonard, Metro Academic and Classical High School

Chat Leonard is Director of College Counseling at Metro Academic & Classical High School, a magnet school in the St. Louis University neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri. She joined the administration of the school she calls "one of the gems of the St. Louis public school system" last year, after 13 years as a College Counselor at Clayton High School. Named one of the top 100 public schools in the nation by Newsweek magazine, Metro prides itself on its diverse ethnic and socioeconomic student body, where 50% of the 326 enrolled students are African American who live within the St. Louis city limits. In Ms. Leonard's first year as Director, 100% of her students went on to attend four-year colleges.

Help with Filling Out the FAFSA

The FAFSA is required for any student seeking federal and state financial aid, including grants and loans at all colleges in the country.  And the single biggest mistake students and families make in the college application process is failing to apply for financial aid by filing the FAFSA. It can seem complicated, but there is help available -- and it's free.  One of the best resources is College Goal Sunday, an information program that brings together financial aid professionals from colleges and universities along with other volunteers to assist college-bound students and their families complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).  Calendars for their national programs, as well as state-by-state events can be found at their website here.