What is Metric Parenting?

A Fast Company post on metric parenting, and how it may help parents achieve a better work-life balance: http://tinyurl.com/z727sfw

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What is the CSS Profile… And Do I Need It?

The CSS Profile is a financial aid form used by some colleges to award institutional aid.  It is usually required by private colleges that have more financial aid to award than public universities.  The CSS Profile is processed through CollegeBoard (the same company that administers and processes the SAT so you will log in using the same credentials used to register for the SAT).  The CSS Profile is used to determine your need by the college and asks for much more information regarding the student’s and parents’ financial situations, but not all the information is necessarily used by every college.  Unlike the FAFSA, there is not a standard Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) calculated because each college uses the information provided differently. 

For example, one college will not take the equity of your family home into consideration while another college will. A student whose parents have a significant amount of equity in their home will have a higher EFC at a college that looks at home equity than one that does not.  Unfortunately, most colleges do not publish the methodology they use to establish a student’s EFC using the CSS Profile, so it is impossible to know exactly what your EFC will be at each college.  With that said, College Funding Connection does own software that can calculate what your EFC will be at the average college that requires the CSS Profile, taking into consideration what colleges who have released their methodology use. 

 

Check each college where you applied (or plan to apply) to find out if the CSS Profile is required.  While on the website, be sure to note the deadline to submit the CSS Profile as well as other deadlines (such as to submit the FAFSA and your federal tax information).  Know that unlike the FAFSA, you can (and may be required to) submit the CSS Profile before January 1st.  Missing a financial aid deadline will not hurt your chances of being admitted to a college, but may make it so the cost is not affordable to you or your parents.  A college can choose to not award financial aid if you miss the deadline… so be sure to keep track of these important dates! 

Questions from our families:

 

What does CSS stand for?

CSS stand for College Scholarship Service 

When is the CSS Profile due?

There is no set deadline for the CSS Profile- each college has their own deadline to submit the form.  College Funding Connection recommends you submit all forms at least 10 days prior to the college’s due date to ensure it processes and is sent to the college in time.

 

Do you have a question regarding the CSS Profile or other financial aid form?  Submit your questions to admin@collegefc.com.  We will answer all questions with a personal email and yours may be featured in next week’s email!   

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Admission Applications Submitted… Now What?

The past month we focused on college admissions applications.  Now that most of you have submitted your applications for admission (and those of you who have not will be submitting them very soon…right?) it is time to switch gears to focus on Financial Aid Applications (yes that is plural).  Did you know that while the FAFSA is the applications needed to apply for federal financial aid, your college could require one, two or even three additional applications for institutional financial aid?!?  How do you know which one(s) to submit? How do you find out the deadlines? Where in the world do you get all the information you’ll need to submit the forms? 

First off… Don’t Panic! The Experts at College Funding Connection are here to help!

Through the month of December, our weekly tips and blog posts will focus on the CSS Profile and other institutional financial aid applications- explanation of difficult questions, the different aspects of each form and answers to your questions every week!  In January we’ll switch to focus on the FAFSA, as you may or may not know already, the first day to submit the FAFSA is January 1st… hard to believe that the 2013 is right around the corner!

Get your questions in now (email to admin@collegefc.com), then check out our blog weekly for the answers to your questions and questions submitted by students and parents just like you!

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Thanksgiving… time for family, shopping and College Applications!

As we celebrate this Thanksgiving holiday, most of us are thinking of the time we’ll have off of school or work, preparing to see family or deciding where to start our Black Friday shopping, but not if you are a  high school senior!  You should be in full college application mode.  If you have not already done so, use this holiday break from school to put the final touches on your college applications (or get them started if you haven’t done so already!).

 

While getting your applications submitted should be a priority, it is important not to rush your submission.  Rushing usually leads to mistakes that could hurt your chances of being accepted to a college of your choice.  While your goal should be the end of this week, if you need a couple more days to polish your application or have it looked over by someone else- that’s ok!  Take the time you need, but don’t procrastinate too much- hard deadlines are fast approaching.

 

Looking for additional last minute tips?  Click Here to see Harvard’s tips to complete the Common Application or give us a call!  We’re here to help.

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Is Early Decision Right for You?

We have received several questions from students and parents over the last several weeks regarding submission deadlines for college admissions applications.  The main question is for clarification of the different terms: Early Decision, Early Action, Rolling Admission and just applying early.  The main difference in these three options has to do with the deadline date and if the decision is binding.

The most restrictive option is Early Decision.  This option requires the admission application to be submitted by an early deadline and also is a binding decision; meaning if accepted by the college, the student must withdraw their applications at other colleges and accept admission.  The benefit to applying Early Decision is that you will find out if you are accepted sooner (usually before the end of the calendar year), which many student athletes find beneficial due to commitment deadlines.  The risk in Early Decision is that you will not be able to compare financial aid packages to other colleges to choose the most affordable one in the end and cannot use other college aid packages as leverage when negotiating for additional financial aid.  There have been several studies that have sought to determine if the student has a better chance of admission if they apply Early Decision, but those studies have been largely inconclusive.  There is a smaller pool of applicants under Early Decision so your applications may receive more attention under this option, but if you do not fit the school’s criteria for admission, you will not be accepted.  If your ability to attend a specific college hinges on the amount of financial aid you will receive, we do not recommend this option.  The only way out of this binding option is to prove that you cannot afford to attend the college- this can be difficult to prove.  If you fail and do not attend, you cannot attend another college for one academic year.

The next option is Early Action.  Early Action, like Early Decision, requires the admission application to be submitted early, but is not a binding decision.  The student has the benefit of finding out if they are accepted early, but does not have to make the decision to attend until May 1st.  This grants the student the security of knowing they were accepted, but they can wait to see what other colleges accept them and can compare financial aid packages.  If their top college will cost more, they can appeal for additional aid- using a better aid package as leverage.  This is a great option for students who do not need to take their SAT/ACT again during the winter of their senior year and who have their application ready to submit without rushing to meet the early deadline.

Rolling Admission does not have an early deadline, but means that colleges will start reviewing applications as them come in- a First In, First Out process.  We recommend that all students apply early.  It is a good idea to aim to submit all your college applications before Thanksgiving (next week!).  This ensures you meet all deadlines and gives you time to search for scholarships and enjoy the holiday season with your family.

Questions about these decisions, deadlines or admissions options?  Give us a call!  We’re here to help.

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Let’s Talk About the Cost of College

This election year we have been encouraged by the conversations started by both candidates (and various political interest groups) regarding higher education.  It seems like every other political ad we hear (and in Ohio we hear a lot of them) is addressed at education.  Be it the rising cost of college, student loan debt, education tax credits or who should pay a student’s tuition bill- it is important to get the conversation started.

Regardless of your political views, we can learn a lot from this campaign season.  Talking or even just starting a conversation is so important to reaching your long term goals – leading to a successful outcome.

Do you know how you will pay for your or your child(ren)’s college education? Have you discussed the plan to play with your student/parent(s)?

You’d be amazed how many times we ask this question to families and the student tells us that their parents will pay and the parents say that the student will take on loans.  Then the bill comes and pandemonium breaks! Scrambling for money, accepting loans without doing research for better options… there may be better ways to pay, but you have to start the conversation- and start early.

As you head to the polls today or reflect on the election tomorrow and beyond, keep in mind the lessons that can be learned and the conversations that can be started. Do you know how to start the conversation?  Do you know how much you’ll have to pay for college?  Do you want to talk about it- find out how much you’ll need- listen to our ideas of better ways to pay?

Call or email us today… your consultation is free and we’ll answer all your questions!

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Have You Checked Out The Common Application?

Hey Seniors!  

Did you know the Common Application for the 2013-2014 school year is now available for you to complete online?  Log on today to see if the colleges you plan to apply to accept the Common App (Click Here)!

The Common Application is accepted by over 450 colleges and universities.  It makes no difference if you submit the Common Application or the school’s private application (several colleges that accept the Common App do not have their own).  The beauty of the Common Application is that you only fill out the main portion of the application and it can be sent to multiple colleges- Save Time-and avoid the potential of making a mistake when filling in many different applications!  Remember that some colleges will have individual college supplemental forms- don’t forget to complete those requirements! 

Questions on how to get started using the Common Application?  Click Here to watch this 5 minute video tutorial.

Not a senior?  You should still check out the Common Application to familiarize yourself with the colleges that accept it, required information and (most importantly) the essay prompts!

Have a question about the Common Application, applying to college or for financial aid?  Send us an email!  We are always happy to help! 

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Mid Summer Checkup: Are you on Track? (Part 2)

Last week we covered what students starting their high school senior and college freshman years should be doing between now and the end of summer.  If you missed it, don’t worry, you can find it on our blog (just scroll down).  This week our checklists focus on rising high school freshmen, sophomores and juniors.  Just because you don’t have to apply to college this year, doesn’t mean you don’t need to plan and meet certain goals.  Find your year below and be sure to check off each of the items before the end of summer.

High School Junior

Check your schedule to make sure you are on track to earn the credits needed to graduate and meet college entry requirements.  Challenge yourself.  If you can handle it, take an AP course or two.

Sign up to take the PSAT!  Doing well on this test will qualify you for the National Merit Scholarship Competition.

Look into ACT/SAT prep courses.  You should plan to take the SAT and/or ACT at least once this year and should do some prep work first.  Taking the ACT and/or SAT will put your name on mailing lists for colleges and can help you identify colleges  to visit this fall and spring.

Research colleges to apply to next fall.  You may think that you have plenty of time, but your senior year will be here before you know it. Your goal should be to have your college list finalized before you start your senior year.  This means researching, visiting and narrowing your list this year.

Start looking for scholarships.  Check with your high school college center, local organizations and businesses.  A great free online database of scholarship is www.fastweb.com.

Continue your involvement in your school and community. Plan to run for a leadership positions.  Join groups that have to do with your future goals and take solid electives- don’t waste these credits on a class simply because it will be an easy A.

High School Sophomore

Sign up to take the PSAT and PLAN tests.  This will be great practice for when the PSAT counts (next fall).

Explore colleges through the web and schedule a couple campus visits for the fall.  Take advantage of college fairs in your area.

Get a job, even if you don’t need the money. This is a great way to build your resume and shows great responsibility if you can hold down the same job all through high school.

Stay involved.  Run for office in the clubs you joined last year.  Volunteer every week.  It is important to show that you have been involved all through high school and not just your senior year when you realize you have nothing to put on your college applications!

Continue talking to friends about their plans after college.  Talk to adults you know about what they do and how they got there… where did they go to college, what was their major, what jobs did they have before their current position?

High School Freshman

Ensure your schedule is set up to meet college requirements.  Remember that requirements will differ from one college to the next so make sure you know what is necessary for the colleges you might want to apply to and your intended major.

Explore your interest through your classes and extracurricular activities.  No one expects you to know exactly what you want to do at this point, but if you think you want to be a chemist, take a chemistry class; if you want to be a veterinarian, volunteer at an animal shelter. You may find that you really like it and confirm your interest or you may decide the profession is not for you.  Better to find out before spending tens of thousands of dollars on colleges.

Get involved.  Look at what clubs are available at your high school and plan to sign up for at least 2 this year… and really go to the meetings.

Talk with friends and family about career paths and colleges.  There are a lot of options out there, some you may never know about unless someone tells you about it.  Ask questions.  Learn as much as you can now; you’ll thank yourself later.

Be sure to like us on Facebook  for daily college news, updates, and tips!

Image courtesy of: www.eastern.usu.edu

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Have you Planned to Maximize Financial Aid?

Are you wondering how much financial aid your student will receive (and if it will be enough)?

Now sure how to pick the right colleges? 

Want to ensure you have done all you can to maximize the financial aid your family is eligible for? 

 If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you can’t afford to miss our 

Free 

College Financial Aid Night

We will show you how to calculate your EFC, how to find the right colleges, and how implementing certain financial planning strategies could lower your out of pocket cost of college by thousand of dollars.

 Space is limited so you must register for this free informational webinar right away! Click Here to register and ensure you have a seat at our Free College Financial Aid Night.

 

colleeg facebookBe sure to like us on Facebook for daily college news, updates, and tips!

 

 

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Mid Summer Checkup: Are you on Track? (Part 1)

Recently we’ve talked about volunteering, sports recruitment and staying active in the summer, but as summer starts winding down it is time to get back into college prep mode. Below are a few things you should be doing RIGHT NOW if you are heading to or applying to college this fall … just find your year and check off each item as you complete it over the next month.  By the time school starts back up this fall you will be glad you did!

 

College Freshman

  • Sign on to your account on your college’s webpage and make sure you’ve completed all necessary steps to be able to attend this fall: accepted financial aid awarded, completed loan entrance counseling, signed the Master Promissory Note, arranged tuition payments and have your class schedule finalized.  Sit down or have a phone call with your academic advisor if you have questions about your schedule and apply for private loans now if you will need them- they take time to process.
  • If you plan to live in the dorms, contact your roommate.  Find out what is acceptable to bring with you to college and decide who will bring what so your room is not overfilled with unnecessary doubles.
  • Shop early! If you wait until the last minute, you might not get everything you need or want.  If you live a distance from the campus where you will attend, find out if you can ship to a store closer to campus.  This way you can order online and then pick up your purchase when you get into town.  This is especially useful if you plan to travel by air to your campus.
  • Buy your books.  Again, don’t wait until the last minute; you will likely pay more if you do.  If you plan ahead you can find the ISBN for each book you will need and can shop around online.  Many college and online bookstores now offer textbook rentals and electronic copies of text as well.  These options can be a huge money saver!

High School Senior:

  • Stay (or Get) Focused!  The more you prepare now, the easier your fall will be, this is especially important if you are an athlete and plan to play a fall sport.  Right now your focus should be on narrowing your list of colleges to those where you will apply this fall.  While visiting colleges is best in the spring or fall, you have time now to make some of the far reaching college visits that you may not be able to fit into your schedule once school resumes.
  • Decide where you will apply.  You should have a list of 6-10 colleges where you plan to apply before school starts this fall; you can always made adjustments to this list, but you should be finalizing your list now, not just starting your search!
  • Start gathering and completing college applications.  Some colleges have released their applications, most, including the Common Application, will be released August 1st.  You can print a draft now and fill it in by hand so you know exactly what you will list when the actual application is released.
  • Prep your essay(s).  The essay is usually the most time consuming and intimidating part of the entire application.  Try to have your essay in its final draft before school starts.   All you’ll need to do is have a couple teachers proof the essay, make some small adjustments and submit! Having this out of the way will allow you time to focus on school work and scholarship applications.
  • Pay attention to deadlines; make a spreadsheet or calendar to keep track of all deadlines.  Most seniors will take the SAT or ACT in the fall; you will need to take the September or October test to meet some college deadlines.  You may need to submit your application early, not Early Decision, but early to qualify for honors or certain scholarship programs.  Remember- you might have the best application out there, but if you miss a deadline, you will not be considered at that college.
  • Apply for Scholarships. While your first focus should be the college admissions applications, don’t forget about scholarships.  You don’t want to spend all your time looking and applying for them, but dedicate an hour or two a week to searching online and within your community for scholarship money.  A great free website for scholarships is www.fastweb.com.  Also be sure to check with your school’s office, local organizations and businesses.

Will you be a High School Junior, Sophomore or Freshman this fall?  Check back next week for our checklists for you!

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