Greetings Seniors and Families,

About a month ago I wrote a series of blogs to help you understand some of the mechanics of the FAFSA and CSS Profile- two forms that are typically required to apply for financial aid.

student with his miami acceptance letter

In those blogs you learned about the two required forms and also the importance of having a balanced list of colleges. My conversations with families on selecting colleges, including whether to apply ED/EA and the discussion over public vs. private universities have shaped each student’s final list of colleges– a balance between academics, social and financial considerations.  Every student should have a healthy mix of reach colleges and financial-safeties.    No student should apply to any university that they wouldn’t be absolutely thrilled to attend.  Your college list is strategic – creating opportunities to leverage up your financial aid awards later this spring.


When  I meet families, I often compare the financial/aid and scholarship process to the size of “party favors”.  How you pay for college is very personal- some families are eligible for aid and some families land is a difficult position- earning too much to receive any significant aid, but earning too little to afford the investment of a education – topping in at over $65k at many of some of the most selective and strongest universities.

If you’re eligible for financial aid- determined by your family financial profile – (more below), filing a FAFSA and a CSS Profile is required to help universities determine how your financial need and the size of your financial aid award. But please understand the “party” is being thrown by the university- the ‘party favors” are university grants, student and parent loans (that’s not AID!!), and work study — these forms of financial aid differ across students based on a number of factors that reflect each student’s desirability as a student.

Obviously, the more competitive the student relative to the typical/average academic profile within the applicant pool, the more grant monies are awarded. For example, a student with a 3.8 GPA, impressive extracurricular experiences and high test scores will be attractive to a university where the typical applicant is a 3.3 student with significantly lower test scores. Likewise, gender, major, and even geographics also assume a role in attracting and forming a balanced freshman class.  Please expect– that in highly selective universities- most if not al applicants offered admissions are equally impressive- and the scholarships are far and few between (non-existent at Ivy League) – in this setting- financial assistance is strictly need based.  That leaves many middle-class families in a difficult space– (more below) Let me help you determine which campuses offering an outstanding education are those where you might be a highly desirable applicant!  Click to connect with college advisor Bonnie Rabin, PhD


In contrast to financial aid, there are numerous “scholarships” -these provided by universities and also available to you from external third party organizations (pun intended).  Scholarships that aren’t related to financial need are awarded based on criteria across all sorts of factors – yet – fundamentally being awarded a scholarship is often based on academic success.  I meet families that seem misguided–3.3 students are rarely awarded scholarships -but it’s not impossible. There are many  factors such as ethnicity, gender, major etc assuming a role.   Helping families select colleges that will find your student WELL ABOVE their average applicant –hence highly desired –increases your chances of receiving some seriously attractive scholarship offers regardless of your financial need (or lack thereof).   For every family, there’s a “price point” – a point at which you”l pay more for a stronger university than your home state public university and likewise, you may be interested in enrolling an at equally or  less-attractive private college (relative to your best public option) given a very enticing financial offer.

Before jumping into scholarship favorites– a quick review on the financial aid process during your college application and college admissions season.

Everything you need to know about financial aid is  found  in my recent blog –


Interested, curious or simply have insomnia-then please pay particular attention to the link to the algorithm page 9 that shows how your EFC is determined – showing the role of both student and parental assets, including any 529 or state-pre-pay tuition monies.  NO WORRIES- Yes, the FAFSA process is changing next year– but it’s not the case that your family is going to see any more money- just an easier approach to the application.

Please schedule a College Admissions & Financial Aid Planning Session to Discuss YOUR SITUATION One-on-one!!  CLICK TO SCHEDULE with Bonnie R. Rabin, PhD In particular- if you have atypical circumstances – I can assist you in making your best presentation on the CSS Profile and in a university-specific appeal to increase your award beyond that which might be determined by at FAFSA.  Such circumstance might include: recent divorce/separation, unusually high medical expenses, supporting other family members, one-time bonus,  proceeds of life insurance/marital assets, impending/recent employment loss– please ask me for guidance.   HOW IS FINANCIAL AID DETERMINED?  FAFSA, CSS Profile, Pre-Pay Plans

Financial Aid and College Planning with Bonnie R. Rabin

Here are just some of my favorite sources of scholarships and scholarship search engines.


At no time should you pay anyone to find you a scholarship or submit your FAFSA for you.

SEARCH ENGINES: Fastweb   is a powerful search engine and you can explore by ethnicity, religion, gender, and combine personal those attributes with intended major, sports, location, community service, etc.  IT IS FREE- -Again, please don’t fall for a scam – no one can find you or guarantee you a scholarship– RUN RUN RUN away from services that say they can help you pay for college.  BOLOGNA!

“Niche” based—Use Google by ethnicity, gender and intended major.  For example, if you are an aspiring finance major, nearly every large national bank and brokerage house offers scholarships.  The same is true for chemists, engineers, computer scientists, journalists, etc.  Many government agencies including the FDA, NASA, NSA and State Department offer undergraduate scholarships!


Hispanic National College Fund

Ron Brown

Society of Women’s Engineers

FIRST Robotics

Charities you/family are active participants over the long term?  Your House of Worship?

Many scholarships are offered to current undergraduates.  If you anticipate a significant amount of AP credits, you may qualify for these awards as your status upon enrolling may be “sophomore”.  CHECK CHECK CHECK the financial aid and scholarship pages of universities that you’ve applied to- they have a really comprehensive listing of external scholarships — for example: University of Michigan

Students can and are encouraged to join professional organizations in their intended field.  For example, the National Society of Black Engineers, Society of Women Engineers, Association for Finance Professionals, etc. all offer student memberships and undergraduate scholarships.


You’ll have been notified if your school nominated you for:


George Snow


Coca Cola Foundation

COLLEGE SPECIFIC  – Miss an email- you’re toast!

Read all emails from all colleges as you may be notified of selection for an internal scholarship that requires additional essays and other supporting materials.

. For example – Here are a range of colleges offering highly competitive merit based scholarships unrelated to financial aid CLICK: Vanderbilt Internal Merit Based Scholarship CLICK Boston University Merit Based Scholarships CLICK WUSTL Merit Based Scholarships CLICK EMORY Scholars Program CLICK Drexel Merit Based Scholarships CLICK University of Maryland Presidential Scholarship

Whether you need guidance in the financial aid process– or If you’re applying for a scholarship or  getting ready for an interview- let’s talk about how I can guide you to paying for college.

Contact Me – LET’S GET STARTED!!

College Planning -
College Application – Planning with College Advisor Bonnie Rabin, PhD

Have a wonderful weekend!


Personalized attention and expert knowledge: academic advising and college application strategies to empower every student for success!

With over thirty years of experience, Professor Emeritus, Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D. provides each of her clients with comprehensive one-on-one educational counseling as well as expert guidance with their college applications at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.  College Admissions Assistance – create your unique plan to realize your goals.SCHEDULE YOUR ASSESSMENT

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Last year we delivered 5 packed days of content and one-on-one personalized writing conferences in a virtual setting- we are prepared to do so again-  and hope you ready to join us in our workshop- where nearly every student in attendance completes their Common App Core College Essay Before Summer Break

Register today:  

College Advisor Bonnie Rabin, PhD
Boca Raton College Consultant Bonnie Rabin, PhD discussion of College Essay

Warm regards,


Bonnie R. Rabin, PhD

Educational & College Admissions Consultant

Professor Emeritus & Cornell University South Florida Alumni Representative

Best wishes for an absolutely meaningful and enriching balance of your school year

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