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Greetings Students & Families
It’s the start of Financial Aid and Scholarship application season- and I want to get you up to speed on that process. This note provides the details you need to understand EVERYTHING you need to know about financial aid and scholarships. Please reach out to schedule your College Admissions Planning Assessment.
Whether you are a parent of a senior or freshman, you’ll find this information invaluable if you have any questions about the process of applying for financial aid and particularly if your potentially unique/odd etc. circumstances requiring guidance in the navigation of the standard FAFSA and CSS Profiles (I’ll tell you all about those two forms below in more detail). If you’re a parent of a freshman- you’ll learn more about how early College Planning impacts your likelihood of scholarship funding. Please ignore misguided information and I want to assure you there is absolutely no increase in your aid package for filing your financial aid forms tomorrow. You aim to file by due dates- mostly January (ED is an exception and some state colleges) and the size of your aid package is completely unrelated to the date you submit your FAFSA. Get it right – don’t rush.  Financial aid and Merit Scholarships are two different beasts- I’ll explain all of this and more in this newsletter.
The Common App and Financial Aid:
If you’re a senior completing your Common App 2021-22 – there’s a question asking if you want to be considered for financial aid. Please indicate “yes” to the question on the Common App regarding “need based aid” – there is no impact on your admissions- we refer to this as “need blind admissions” — also .
WHAT To KNOW ABOUT FINANCIAL AID & SCHOLARSHIPS?
All families have many questions about financial aid and paying for college including:
  • Is our family eligible for financial aid?
  • When and how do we apply for financial aid and what’s a FAFSA or CSS Profile?
  • What Scholarships are available?
  • Under what circumstances should we consider a private college in lieu of our state’s public universities-?(especially if you’ve participated in your state’s college planning 529 plan such as the Florida’s Pre-Pay program.)
  • How does early college planning increase chances of college acceptance and finding internal scholarships?
In this very detailed newsletter, I’ll answer all these questions and we’ll explore how financial aid is an essential part of forming your balanced list of colleges. Early academic planning can be invaluable to positioning each student to realize educational goals that are affordable.
The “fit” between a student and a university is based upon three pillars, including “Academics”, “Social” and “Financial”.
Twice a year I write about Financial Aid and Scholarships. During May I inform families of all that is needed to understand the process as many Juniors are shaping/finalizing their final “balanced” list of colleges heading into the College Application cycle. I also write about this topic during fall when seniors are applying for aid- and when are juniors are just beginning to visit colleges. There’s been a number or changes the past year and this very very very detailed newsletter is a must-read for any middle or high school family.
Early planning will help you shape your balanced college lists, avoid disappointment and underscore for all students what is involved in securing scholarships (vs financial aid). It is absolutely never too earn to build a college plan – preparing for undergraduate study, college applications and increasing your opportunities for scholarships.
*** There’s plenty of money– ignore the sticker price!
YES YOU CAN AFFORD COLLEGE. As you’ll learn today, there are colleges that will cost you less than your state public institution.
Financial Aid, FAFSA & Scholarships-- College Application Help- What to Know!
FINANCIAL AFFORDABILITY
Every family faces unique financial circumstances and we factor those into the choices of where to apply and enroll.
If you’re ineligible for financial aid (determined by each college’s review of your completed FAFSA), the investment of a college education takes on more importance given the substantial cost. Given the economic uncertainty many families faced at the outset of the pandemic, it’s been difficult for some families to fathom the cost of higher education. This past enrollment cycle, more of my seniors than ever — despite outstanding acceptances to highly selective programs in private out-of-state colleges to which they applied –instead decided to enroll in their financial (less selective) safety or a less costly public university.
It is important to have a very honest family conversation about affordability BEFORE the college application process begins. Yes, there’s always employment and medical unforeseen changes– yet, know your budget before you begin your college applications and understand WHICH CAMPUSES are more likely to offer scholarships to “bid” on your student. Let’s talk about all of this!
Seniors are currently finalizing their balanced short list and are ready to submit their financial aid applications. Your eligibility for financial aid for the 2022-23 freshman year is determined by parents’ 2020 tax return and the income reported during that year. If your financial circumstances changed during 2021, please reach out to discuss how to alert colleges of this change.
Whether your family is financially secure or facing serious challenges– the cost of a four-year undergraduate degree is a significant investment. Sadly, the more selective universities with stronger educational programs are the same price as less selective programs. The cost of running a university doesn’t change much – and the quality of an education isn’t reflected in the price tag. That said, this newsletter informs you about how to understand that the price tag isn’t always what you are going to pay. Today, I’ll help you to understand how to access scholarships and financial aid to reduce the stress that results from mis-information and yes, being an easy target for “scholarship and financial aid scamsters!”
THERE ARE MANY CAMPUSES PROVIDING an EXCELLENT EDUCATION offering deep discounts on tuition given your “admissions profile”.
PRIVATE vs. PUBLIC – Pre-funding in state plans?
As my sophomores and juniors are working to research majors and colleges- -my seniors are engaged fully in the 2021-22 college application season (most are actually almost done with their applications). One of the questions most often raised is whether a student should be applying to private colleges if a family has participated in their state’s pre-paid tuition plan?  The short answer to the question is that there are many outstanding universities offering both financial need-based and merit based assistance. Colleges want you!
Universities provide inviting “discounts” on tuition. So don’t have tunnel vision nor rule out private universities before you know if your student would be a likely candidate for merit-based aid.
MISCONCEPTION # 1 –
*** You do NOT receive money from “FAFSA”. This common misconception needs to be addressed straight away. The FAFSA is a federal form – linked to your IRS account. When you complete the form, your student aid report (SAR) will generate your estimated family contribution(EFC) . Colleges use that number as a guide to determining the package you receive.
This algorithm is explained in detailed in this lengthy government publication here and I’ll address this technical content towards the end of this detailed newsletter.

 

Does your student have an Educational & College Admissions Plan? On Target?
Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D.
Personalized Educational & College Admissions Services
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