Tag Archives: financial aid

Money, Money, Money

If you are a senior in High School, you may think it’s time to sit back, relax (or maybe worry), because you are applications are submitted. You may have heard back from “the one” and know where you are attending College. Or, like, most seniors, you are impatiently waiting for April 1st to come, which is the date many Colleges let you know the answer to a very important question. While I admit you may deserve a break, now is not the time…

Applying Early Can be a Good Thing... Unless it's Not

Keep on Top of Scholarship Deadlines

You may have submitted your scholarship application for the Colleges where you applied, but there are THOUSANDS of more scholarships out there, waiting for an enterprising Senior to apply to and win. Even if you don’t have the most stellar grades and/or test scores, you may be more qualified than you think. Need some examples?

How about the Gallery Collection’s 9th annual $10,000 Design-a-Greeting-card scholarship?

Or Sub Pop’s Every Loser’s a Winner scholarship – 3 scholarships totaling $15,000?

If that is too mainstream, how about:

Pixabay Prom Dresses

Design Your Prom Dress out of Duck Tape and You May Win Money

Wear Ducktape to Prom Scholarship?

Write a Fire Sprinkler Essay for the The American Fire Safety Association and maybe win $20,000?

There are also some very specialized scholarships for a relatively small group of qualified applicants:

The International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Scholarship for students who work 13 or more hours a week at a member IDDBA.

If you are bored, check out the Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Scholarship Contest on YouTube.

Yes, the possibilities are endless. Are you tall? Member of Clowns of America International? Have you promoted vegetarianism in your school? Think of ANYTHING that makes you unique, and there just might be a scholarship for that. If you are looking for more generic scholarships, alll you have to do is type “college scholarships” to get a long list of available scholarships, some for big money. Check out Scholarships.com, Cappex.com, FastWeb.com, CollegeBoard.org, EducatorLabs.org, etc., etc. Otherwise, type in whatever comes to mind, such as “ketchup loving college scholarship” and see what you find.

Pixabay Piggy Bank

Scholarships = Money

Make sure to ask your parents if there are any scholarships available through their work. If they belong to a Union, there is a good chance that the answer is yes. The more people you ask, the more likely you will find out about a scholarship that is not well-publicized, and then your chances of winning go up.

If you are trying to figure out whether this is worth your time, I remind my kids that a single $1,000 scholarship equates to over 100 hours at a minimum wage job.

Looking for other ways to get money to pay for College? Check out Finding Colleges with Generous Financial and/or Merit Money, Choosing Where to Apply Based on Your Financial Position and What Parents Can Teach Their Kids About Money for more advice.

Pixabay Sharing InformationHave you found any unique or extraordinary scholarships? Please share them by leaving a post.

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Finding Colleges with Generous Financial and/or Merit Money

If money is an important variable in your College search and you have read Choosing Where to Apply Based On Your Financial Situation, you know that a) a strong academic resume is important b) the the amount of financial and merit aid can vary widely by school, particularly whether or not they are a highly selective College and c) that you should read this post to figure out how to find Colleges with generous aid.

Is it a College or University?

Elite Colleges Offer Generous Financial Aid

Type in the words “Colleges with Generous Financial Aid” or “Colleges with Generous Merit Aid” and you will find many websites to help you in your search. Many websites intended to help you with your College Search will include a searchable database of Colleges, where you can specify all sorts of criteria, whether it’s location, weather, specific course offerings, housing, or even whether a Freshman can have a car on campus. While basic criteria will likely be the same across these websites, you may find that some of the more unique search criteria will vary widely, so it’s worth your time to spend a few minutes comparing criteria to find the best search database for your needs.

While I have not spent a lot of time comparing these websites, I believe a good College Search database can be found on College Boards’s website. Once you are on College Board’s website, click on College Search in the main menu. Here you can specify criteria that is important to you, including Paying, which allows you specify schools that meet a large percentage of financial aid of their students, the tuition, and other variables that will affect your bottom line. If you want to save your search, you can create a log-in account. If you will be soon or have already taken the PSAT, SAT or Subject Tests, you will already have a College Board log-in account.

Pixabay Sharing Information

Share Your Experience

If you have found a College Search database you really like, please comment on this post and indicate why.

 

 

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Choosing Where to Apply Based On Your Financial Situation

If money is in shortage in your household, you need to be strategic on where you choose to apply to College. That’s a simple sentence for a complex process, but I will break it down.

Pixabay JugglingOne thing that you may have had drilled into your head (certainly something I drilled into my kids’ heads) is that you need to get good grades in High School so you can go to a good College. This may be a double-edged sword, if your family can’t afford to pay for your College education, which is why you must consider your financial situation. I will repeat once again, DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN to avoid paying for College with student loans. Those payments will haunt you for YEARS after you graduate and may reek havoc with your credit rating. Students loans now exceed credit card debt in the US, and those loans have an incredibly high default rate, meaning a lot of students are unable to pay back their loans, which is very stressful and hurts their credit rating. A bad credit rating makes it hard to buy your first home or maybe even get a job, as many businesses are now checking applicants’ credit ratings. The double-edged sword is that DEPENDING ON WHERE YOU APPLY, good grades may qualify you for more financial aid and more merit money, but then again, it might qualify you for more financial aid but no merit money, or more merit money, but little-to-no financial aid. In this post, I refer to highly selective Colleges, which is a generic term. When I say highly selective, I mean Colleges who generally accept less than 15% of it’s applicants.

Colleges with Large Endowments

Colleges with Large Endowments

  1. Financial Aid – highly selective Colleges
    1. Highly selective Colleges have large endowments which often mean more generous financial aid.  Many selective Colleges will also emphasize that they consider their applicants “need-blind”. This means that while your application goes to the Admissions Office for consideration, your financial forms are sent to the College’s financial aid office, so that Admissions can decide whether to admit you regardless of your financial need. Here’s the catch – those highly selective Colleges are extremely hard to get into – better grades and test scores help your case, but even exceptional students who apply to a highly selective college have a low chance of acceptance.
      1. The Colleges with Large Endowments spreadsheet illustrates how large endowments often mean not only that more students qualify for financial aid (for example, Stanford University states that most students whose families earn less than $125,000 per year will likely qualify for free tuition), but also that all or most of your financial need will be met. Note that the spreadsheet is ranked in the order of the Endowment Per Student, because large universities may have substantial endowments that don’t add up to much, if you compare the size of the endowment to the number of students. My methodology for finding these Colleges means there may be other Colleges with a large endowment per student that is not included in this spreadsheet.
      2. The consequence of both financial and merit money is that a) some private Colleges may cost you less than public Colleges and b) many students with financial need AND good grades and test scores apply to highly selective Colleges. While it may be hard to get in, if you do get in, you are in a very good financial position. But you have fierce competition.
  2. Financial Aid – less selective Colleges
    1. Pixabay Gold Bars

      Some Colleges Run Out of Financial Aid Money

      Colleges with less money in their coffers often can’t afford to meet all of a student’s financial need; they often make up the difference with student loans.

    2. Their standards for who qualifies for financial aid are often more stringent than more selective Colleges.
    3. This is why it is important to apply as early as you are ready, because as Colleges use up their financial aid budget, they will be less generous with their financial aid. The early bird is more likely to get the worm!
  3. Merit Money – highly Selective Colleges
    Good grades and test scores often mean more merit money, but that is often not the case at highly selective colleges. Merit money is generally used by Colleges to woo exceptional applicants. But if you are a highly selective/desirable College such as Princeton, Yale or Columbia, for example, you don’t need to woo those applicants – they come to you in great numbers. That’s why you will see many selective Colleges offer little to no merit money.
  4. Merit Money – less selective Colleges
    This is where you can really make an impact on the amount of tuition you pay. All students should be considering a wide-range of Colleges, in terms of selectivity. The so-called “Safety” “Target” and “Reach” schools. If you have a strong academic resume, some of those schools will likely be generous in their merit money. They are wooing you to increase their perceived selectivity. How do you find those schools? Check out the post Finding Colleges with Generous Financial and/or Merit Money.
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Yield

Yield (or Admission Rate) is the percentage of students admitted into a College that choose to enroll in that College. Stanford, the most selective College in the country, has a much higher yield than your local State College. Why? Other than lacking funds to pay for it, not too many kids get into a school like Stanford and decide they’d rather go elsewhere. Part of this desire may be due to a deservedly earned reputation for excellence, for the prestige of graduating from a renowned University and part of this desire may be for the ego-boosting feeling of being accepted to a College that is difficult to get into. Does the College accept exceptional students that create an excellent atmosphere? Does the College’s excellent atmosphere create exceptional students? There is something to both, but this is a classic question of the chicken and the egg.

Why is Yield so important?

  1. Admissions is a big-money game for Colleges. Non-subjective factors such as yield, or admission rate, can have a big impact on how Colleges are viewed by prospective students and how they are rated by publications such as the US News & World Report Best Colleges. Colleges want a high yieldHigher admission rates (yield) is considered a reflection on the Colleges desirability/selectivity. In other words, a student is more likely to enroll into a College if they are accepted, if they believe other students are more likely to enroll into that College if they are accepted. They also are more likely to apply to that College if they consider it to be highly selective, which is reflected in both its acceptance and admission rates.
  2. Pixabay Calculator

    Admissions is a Numbers Game

    Colleges must make some educated guesses on how many students to admit into their schools to get the number of students they want enrolled in the schools.  If their historical yield is 35%, they may choose to admit 10,000 Freshman, in the hope of enrolling 3,500 Freshman. But if it happens that 4,000 of those 10,000 admitted students chooses to enroll, the College needs to figure out how to accommodate an unforecasted 500 students, both in terms of teachers/classrooms and housing. Next year, they may decide to lower the number of admitted students, both because the school already has 500 unforecasted students in their total student body and because they are wondering if last year’s 40% yield is their new norm.

Now you know why College Admissions becomes a real-life application of Statistics.

Colleges must determine how many students to admit

Colleges must determine how many students to admit in order to enroll the desired number of incoming Freshman

Furthermore, if a school chooses to change an Admission policy, they have to consider what impact that policy will have on their yield – if they determine their diversity is suffering as their selectivity increases, they may choose to admit more minorities. If they are generous with their financial and/or merit aid for those minorities, than the yield for that sub-group will likely be higher.

Colleges that choose to offer an Early Decision Application Plan are eliminating the guesswork on the yield for a portion of their admitted students, because ED plans are binding – the student must enroll if they are accepted via ED. 

Why do you need to understand yield? It helps you understand the Admission process, which helps you make wiser decisions about applying, and whether to apply early. See Early Decision, Early Action, Restrictive Early Action, Regular Decision and Rolling Admission for more detail to help you understand the potential impact on your admissions chances when you apply early to a College. Furthermore, Colleges with a high yield are less likely to offer merit money, because students clearly value admission into Colleges and may be willing to pay more to attend that College. If you are applying to Colleges with a high yield, you should pay close attention to the percentage of students that receive financial or merit aid, if that is important to you. Keep in mind that student athletes and children of alumni may apply early, and receive special consideration for acceptance. Those students may skew the numbers.

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Early Decision, Early Action, Restrictive Early Action, Regular Decision, Rolling Admission

It’s time to figure out some application strategy, in terms of when and how to apply to a College. You have options for how you apply to a particular College. Those options may include Early Decision, Early Action, Restrictive Early Action, Regular Decision and/or Rolling Admission Application Plans, depending on the College. Before we get into the details, it’s important for you to understand an important factor in the Admissions game, which is Yield.

When and how you apply to College can have a big impact on outcome.  In general, there are five ways (or plans) to apply to College:

  1. Early Decision (ED) – sometimes there is ED1 and ED2

    Applying Early Can be a Good Thing... Unless it's Not

    Applying Early Can be a Good Thing… Unless it’s Not

  2. Early Action (EA) – sometimes there is EA1 and EA2
  3. Restrictive Early Action (REA) – AKA Single-Choice Early Action
  4. Regular Decision (RD)
  5. Rolling Admission (RA)

Colleges don’t offer all of these options; typically they offer RD plus one other application plan, unless they offer RA.

A College’s policy regarding offering financial and/or merit aid for different admission plans (ED vs. RD, for example) are important considerations that should be discussed with the College’s Admission Officer. It is also important to research and discuss admission rates for the different application plans. Finally, ask about early application plans acceptance rates, adjusted for athletes and legacies.

About 450 Colleges have Early Decision or Early Action plans.  To determine which application plans are offered at a particular College, type <school name> undergraduate admissions deadlines in your search engine. Again, a College Counselor can be invaluable in navigating this complex process.

Checkout Deadlines and Timelines for related information.

Pixabay Spreadsheet

Application Plans, Deadlines by College & By Date

See the spreadsheets below for ideas on how to track application deadlines for each Application Plan they offer. You will want to track this information by College and by due date.

Application Plans, Deadlines, by College

Application Deadlines, by Date

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