PSAT National Merit Qualifing Frequently Asked Questions

August 28, 2015
So you want to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship competition. The sure fire way to qualify is  to score in the top percentage. While that sounds simple enough it is a good challenge and can be accomplished with preparation and study. Review the test prep material on this website. PSAT National Merit Qualifing Frequently […]

So you want to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship competition. The sure fire way to qualify is  to score in the top percentage. While that sounds simple enough it is a good challenge and can be accomplished with preparation and study. Review the test prep material on this website.

PSAT National Merit Qualifing Frequently Asked Questions

How does a high school student enter the National Merit Scholarship Program?

To enter the competition, a high school student must take the PSAT/NMSQT® at their high school or approved location in the specified year of high school and meet NMSC's published program participation requirements. See "Entering the Competition" for further information.

If a student took the PSAT/NMSQT® as a sophomore, does he/she need to take it again?

Yes, if the student is spending the usual four years in grades 9 through 12. See "Entering the Competition" for further information.

Can a homeschooled student take the PSAT/NMSQT®?

Yes, but the test must be administered at a local high school or approved location. Contact the principal or guidance counselor well in advance of the test day to make arrangements to take the PSAT/NMSQT at that school.

What if a student misses the PSAT/NMSQT®?

A student who misses the PSAT/NMSQT test due to illness, an emergency, or other extenuating circumstance, but meets all other requirements for NMSC program participation, may still be able to enter the competition. See "Entering the Competition"for further information.

What should a student do if his/her PSAT/NMSQT® Score Report Plus has an asterisk next to the Selection Index score, indicating that entry requirements for the National Merit Scholarship Program were not met?

Compare responses to the entry items on the student's score report to the requirements listed on the National Merit® Scholarship Program page. Entry requirements are also listed in the PSAT/NMSQT Official Student Guide. If the student made an error or plans have changed, write immediately to NMSC about it and NMSC will review the student's record.

If the student's PSAT/NMSQT® Score Report Plus does not have an asterisk next to the Selection Index score, indicating that entry requirements for the National Merit Scholarship Program were met, does that mean the student will be recognized in the program?

About 1.5 million students meet entry requirements, but only approximately 50,000 of the highest scoring students receive program recognition. If a student's score qualifies him or her for recognition in the National Merit Program, the student will be notified through his or her high school in September following the PSAT/NMSQT® administration.

How many program participants are honored annually?

A total of about 50,000 participants receive recognition in the National Merit® Program. Approximately 5,000 students were honored in the 2015 National Achievement® Program.

When and how are students notified they are Semifinalists?

Semifinalists are notified through their schools in early September. Semifinalists who are homeschooled are notified at their home addresses. See the National Merit® Scholarship Program page for additional information about the program.

How does a Semifinalist become a Finalist?

Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements, which are provided in the information they receive with their scholarship applications and are also listed in the PSAT/NMSQT® Official Student Guide. These include completing an application, having a consistently very high academic record, writing an essay, being endorsed and recommended by a school official, and taking the SAT® and earning a score that confirms the PSAT/NMSQT performance. Click here to view the Requirements and Instructions for Semifinalists in the 2015 National Merit® Scholarship Program. Click here to view the Requirements and Instructions for Semifinalists in the 2015 National Achievement® Scholarship Program. (Adobe Acrobat Reader is required.) For more information regarding the SAT test, please visit the website of the College Board, which cosponsors the PSAT/NMSQT.

When and how are Semifinalists notified if they have advanced to Finalist standing?

Finalists are notified in early February by mail at their home addresses. See the National Merit® Scholarship Program and National Achievement® Scholarship Program pages for additional details.

How does a Semifinalist/Finalist report a college choice or change?

To report a college choice or change, students must log in to their Online Scholarship Application accounts and click on the “Change College Choice” link. This link is located under Main Menu Item 3, “Maintain Your Personal Information After Your Application is Transmitted to NMSC.” Key dates for college-sponsored award consideration in the National Merit® Program are provided to Semifinalists on page 3 of the Requirements and Instructions for Semifinalists in the 2015 National Merit®Scholarship Program.

 

http://www.nationalmerit.org/prn_faq_competition.php

 

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Redesigned SAT prep book

August 17, 2015
Verify that you are studying from official materials. If you are taking the New Redesigned SAT double check that you have a current prep book and current materials. use this prep book.    Send article as PDF   

Verify that you are studying from official materials.

If you are taking the New Redesigned SAT double check that you have a current prep book and current materials.

use this prep book.

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Redesigned SAT Sample Tests

August 17, 2015
College Board has issued new sample SAT tests for the newly Redesigned SAT test. The new test starts March 2016. Review the SAT question of the day along with practice with sample tests can increase your scores. Also review Module 2. This video shows you how to Beat the Test using specific strategies to arrive […]

College Board has issued new sample SAT tests for the newly Redesigned SAT test. The new test starts March 2016.

Review the SAT question of the day along with practice with sample tests can increase your scores. Also review Module 2. This video shows you how to Beat the Test using specific strategies to arrive at the correct answer faster.

Links to the Redesigned SAT Sample Tests with Answers

  1. http://azcollegeplanning.com/files/redesigned-sat-practice-test-1.pdf
  2. http://azcollegeplanning.com/files/redesigned-sat-practice-test-1-answers.pdf
  3. http://azcollegeplanning.com/files/redesigned-sat-practice-test-1-essay.pdf
  4. http://azcollegeplanning.com/files/redesigned-sat-practice-test-2.pdf
  5. http://azcollegeplanning.com/files/redesigned-sat-practice-test-2-answers.pdf
  6. http://azcollegeplanning.com/files/redesigned-sat-practice-test-2-essay.pdf
  7. http://azcollegeplanning.com/files/redesigned-sat-practice-test-3.pdf
  8. http://azcollegeplanning.com/files/redesigned-sat-practice-test-3-answers.pdf
  9. http://azcollegeplanning.com/files/redesigned-sat-practice-test-3-essay.pdf
  10. http://azcollegeplanning.com/files/redesigned-sat-practice-test-4.pdf
  11. http://azcollegeplanning.com/files/redesigned-sat-practice-test-4-answers.pdf
  12. http://azcollegeplanning.com/files/redesigned-sat-practice-test-4-essay.pdf

College Board link

Let us know how you did.

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Redesigned PSAT Sample Tests

August 17, 2015
Links to the Redesigned PSAT Sample Tests with Answers http://azcollegeplanning.com/files/redesigned-psat-nmsqt-practice-test-1.pdf http://azcollegeplanning.com/files/redesigned-psat-nmsqt-practice-test-1-answers.pdf Review the SAT question of the day along with practice with sample tests can increase your scores. Also review Module 2. This video shows you how to Beat the Test using specific strategies to arrive at the correct answer faster. Let us know how […]

Links to the Redesigned PSAT Sample Tests with Answers

  1. http://azcollegeplanning.com/files/redesigned-psat-nmsqt-practice-test-1.pdf
  2. http://azcollegeplanning.com/files/redesigned-psat-nmsqt-practice-test-1-answers.pdf

Review the SAT question of the day along with practice with sample tests can increase your scores. Also review Module 2. This video shows you how to Beat the Test using specific strategies to arrive at the correct answer faster.

Let us know how you did.

 

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Words to avoid in your college essay

July 8, 2015
Students tend to use vague word when they are writing their essay as well as in the descriptions of the activities. Don’t use vague words. Word to avoid are: Many Numerous Frequently Various Countless or any other vague ambiguous word Be specific. Don’t say “I helped at many carwash fundraising events.” If you helped fund-raise […]

Students tend to use vague word when they are writing their essay as well as in the descriptions of the activities.

Don’t use vague words.

Word to avoid are:

  • Many
  • Numerous
  • Frequently
  • Various
  • Countless
  • or any other vague ambiguous word

Be specific. Don’t say “I helped at many carwash fundraising events.” If you helped fund-raise at five different carwashes, then say that.

 

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how to apply for student loans

July 6, 2015
How to apply for student loans Create a FSA ID and password (double check your password) Use this link to create an account https://fsaid.ed.gov Your username will not expire. Your password must be changed every 18 months. If you log in and your password has expired, you will be required to change your password. Once […]

How to apply for student loans

  1. Create a FSA ID and password (double check your password)
    • Use this link to create an account https://fsaid.ed.gov
    • Your username will not expire. Your password must be changed every 18 months. If you log in and your password has expired, you will be required to change your password. Once you change your password, you will need to log in with your new password.
    • It takes one to three days to confirm your FSA ID information with SSA. You will receive an e-mail when this is complete. Once SSA confirms your information, you will be able to use your FSA ID for all FAFSA tasks, such as starting a FAFSA or making a correction, as well as with other Federal Student Aid Web sites such as StudentLoans.gov, NSLDS.ed.gov, StudentAid.gov and teach-ats.ed.gov.
  2. Go to StudentLoans.gov, click on My Account
  3. Log in with your FSA ID and Password
  4. Click on “Complete Counseling” and follow the prompts.. *note there are several tab that must be filled out to move on to the next section.
  5. On the next page click "Entrance Counseling” then follow the prompts
  6. Add the college you are/will be attending
  7. Click on “Financial Awareness Counseling” and follow the prompt
  8. On the main page click on “Complete a Master Promissory Note” and follow the prompts. (click the “My Account” button to return to the main page, if necessary.
  9. Click “Complete” button and follow prompts
  10. Click the Submit button
  11. Reach out to the college recruiter contact and let them know you have finished Loan counseling and signed the MPN.
  12. Repeat this process for the Parent PLUS Loan

Please note: This is the first step. You will need to accept the loan on the college’s website and specify the dollar amount you need.

 

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Federal Government Reduces Educational Loan Interest Rates

June 29, 2015
Bad News and Good News First the good news: Recently while the media went into a frenzy with their best Chicken Little impersonation selling their doom and gloom claiming that educational loan interest rates would double. The Federal Government just announced that federally backed educational loan interest rates would go down. Over the board all […]

Bad News and Good News

First the good news:

Recently while the media went into a frenzy with their best Chicken Little impersonation selling their doom and gloom claiming that educational loan interest rates would double. The Federal Government just announced that federally backed educational loan interest rates would go down. Over the board all of these loans dropped .37%.

This means parents that use the PLUS loan to borrow for their children will pay 6.84%, instead of 7.21%. Parents that borrow $20,000 loan during the 2015-2016 school year will save around $558 in interest on a 10-year repayment plan.

Loan Type Borrower Type Loans first disbursed on or after 7/1/14 & before 7/1/15 Loans first disbursed on or after 7/1/15 & before 7/1/16
Direct Subsidized Loans Undergraduate 4.66% 4.29%
Direct Unsubsidized Loans Undergraduate 4.66% 4.29%
Direct Unsubsidized Loans Graduate or Professional 6.21% 5.84%
Direct PLUS Loans Parent PLUS Loan Parents and Graduate or Professional Students 7.21% 6.84%

*Perkins Loans (regardless of the first disbursement date) have a fixed interest rate of 5%.

So that is the good news, educational loan interest rates are reduced. Maybe they are anticipating another crash. Time will tell.

On to the Bad News:

While the Feds announced the lower interest rate they have also reduced the Income Asset Protection Allowance by a bewildering 85%. Headlines read: Feds reduced the Financial Aid Asset Protection Allowance by 85%!

Some basics on financial aid, the income protection allowance (IPA) is a modest allowance for basic living expenses( or your emergency funds). The IPA or Asset Protection is a dollar amount of money that is not counted in the financial aid formula. The federal government says that a family of 4 is allowed to have $XXXX. in savings, checking and other exposed assets. Every dollar above this number is calculated into the Expected Family Contribution number thus reducing the aid given.

If a family of 4 has $20,000 above the asset protection allowance, then that $20,000 of exposed money will reduce the amount of aid the student is eligible to receive.

With the age of the older parent at 45 and married; the protection allowance is $6,300. At age 46 the allowance is $6,400, at 50 it is $7,100 at 55 it is $8,100 etc.

Last year the Protection Allowance for a married family with the older parent age 45, it was $30,700. Last year a family that had $30,699 in their checking/saving account was below the protection allowance threshold. This year this same family now has $24,399 of exposed money that will reduce their aid package by 10% to as much as 20%. This family will receive 10% less financial aid and will be forced to take out more educational loans.

It is more important than ever to reduce your exposed assets and move the money into sheltered products just so that you can get what you should have received.

This makes me angry! While diligent families do their best to save for college it only backfires because the money they saved was exposed and counts against them. You must learn how the financial aid system works so that you can legally and ethically take advantage of the system while you stack the deck in your favor. Yes, save money for college but it must be done in such a way that it does not hinder your chances or reduce your overall aid package.

Ask me in person or off line why the federal government is doing this. Without stirring up a hornets’ nest, you’ll be shocked to find out the real reason.

Get your [financial] house in order so that your student qualifies for everything they are entitled and graduate debt free or near debt free. Contact me now.

 

 

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Common Application 2015-2016 Essay Prompts

April 24, 2015
Common Application 2015-2016 Essay Prompts The Common Application Organization announced Essay Prompts for the 2015-2016 Common Application on March 31, 2015. Students will be instructed to select and respond to one prompt with a 650 word limit. 1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application […]

Common Application 2015-2016 Essay Prompts

The Common Application Organization announced Essay Prompts for the 2015-2016 Common Application on March 31, 2015. Students will be instructed to select and respond to one prompt with a 650 word limit.

1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

2. The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?

4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

See you at the Application Boot Camp class!

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Early Decision or Early Action vs Regular Decision

December 29, 2014
Early Decision or Early Action vs Regular Decision If a student has the grades and test scores that match or are in the upper 1/3 bracket of students that are admitted AND the parents do not care about getting financial aid, then apply Early Decision/Early Action. However, if financial aid is needed then apply under […]

Early Decision or Early Action vs Regular Decision

If a student has the grades and test scores that match or are in the upper 1/3 bracket of students that are admitted AND the parents do not care about getting financial aid, then apply Early Decision/Early Action. However, if financial aid is needed then apply under the Regular Decision guidelines (but submit your application well before the Early Decision deadline.
From Harvard’s website.
Harvard does not offer an advantage to students who apply early. Higher Early Action acceptance rates reflect the remarkable strength of Early Action pools. For any individual student, the final decision will be the same whether the student applies Early Action or Regular Decision.
https://college.harvard.edu/admissions/apply/application-timeline/restrictive-early-action

From Forbes website
A New Twist
Something relatively new in the aid world is some public universities and less well-known private colleges are now requiring those students applying for admission early, either through the early decision or early action admission options, to complete the CSS Profile in addition to the FAFSA, while students applying under the regular admission process need only to complete the FAFSA. Applying for admission early is a proven way to boost a student’s chances of being accepted, but if more and more colleges require the CSS Profile when applying early, and a family’s finances look less favorable for aid based on the Profile, the unintended consequence may be a less favorable aid package.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/troyonink/2014/02/14/how-assets-hurt-college-aid-eligibility-on-fafsa-and-css-profile/

To get the most aid, apply under the Regular Decision guidelines and submit the application before the Early Decision deadline.

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Phoenix College Fair 14

August 19, 2014
Phoenix College Fair is September 28 Sunday 11AM-3PM Imagine filling out 100 plus+ forms. I’ve got writers cramps just thinking about it. At the upcoming Phoenix College Fair, almost 200 schools will be represented. Working on your “College Touch Points” is now easier than ever. It used to be that when a student went to […]

Phoenix College Fair is September 28 Sunday 11AM-3PM

Imagine filling out 100 plus+ forms. I’ve got writers cramps just thinking about it. At the upcoming Phoenix College Fair, almost 200 schools will be represented.

Working on your “College Touch Points” is now easier than ever. It used to be that when a student went to a college fair they would take 5 minutes or more filling out contact forms for each college they were interested in. Now a quick scan from a prefilled out form handles all of it electronically.

No need to fill out all the registration cards for dozens of colleges by hand!

New streamlining procedures are now available. Watch the 3 minute video and register on the link below.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qq3sk5nXWJk

Sunday, September 28, 2014

11:00am to 3:00pm

While the College Fair is free to attend, NACAC is encouraging all students to pre-register  online.   After registering, you will have access to a bar-coded page, please print this page and take it to the fair. Each college  and university attending the fair will have a scanner that will retrieve your  information when the barcode is scanned.

Pre-registration is available online at the  following link:

https://www.gotomyncf.com/

Phoenix Convention Center
100 N Third Street
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Fair Hours: Sunday, Sept 28, 11-3PM

Colleges attending

1-Adams State University
2-American University
3-Arcadia University
4-Arizona Christian University
5-Arizona State University
6-Assumption College
7-Augustana College
9-Baylor University
10-Benedictine University at Mesa
11-Berklee College of Music
12-Black Hills State University
13-Boise State University
14-Bradley University
15-Bryant University
16-California Baptist University
17-California Lutheran University
18-California Maritime Academy
19-California Polytechnic State University
20-California State University-Fresno
21-California State University-San Marcos
22-Carleton College
23-Central College
24-Central Washington University
25-Chapman University
26-Coe College
27-Colorado Christian University
28-Colorado School of Mines
29-Colorado State University
30-Colorado State University-Pueblo
31-Columbia College Chicago
32-Concordia University-Irvine
33-Cornell College
34-Creighton University
35-DigiPen Institute of Technology
36-Dominican University of California
37-Drake University
38-Drexel University
39-Earlham College
40-Eastern Washington University
41-Eckerd College
42-Education Management Corporation
43-Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
44-Empire Beauty School
45-FIDM-The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising
46-Florida Institute of Technology
47-Fort Lewis College
48-George Mason University
49-Gonzaga University
50-Grinnell College
51-Hastings College
52-Hawaii Pacific University
53-Hendrix College
54-High Point University
55-Hillsdale College
56-Hofstra University
57-Holy Cross College
58-Humboldt State University
59-Illinois Institute of Technology
60-Illinois Wesleyan University
61-John Cabot University
62-Johnson & Wales University
63-Juniata College
64-Lehigh University
65-Lewis & Clark College
66-LIM College - Where Business Meets Fashion
67-Loyola University Chicago
68-Marquette University
69-Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences
70-Menlo College
71-Michigan State University
72-Mills College
73-Minnesota State University Moorhead
74-Montana State University-Billings
75-Montana Tech of The University of Montana
76-Mount Marty College
77-Mount St. Mary's College
78-New Mexico State University
79-New York Film Academy
80-New York Institute of Technology
81-Northeastern University
82-Northern Arizona University
83-Norwich University
84-Nova Southeastern University
85-Oklahoma City University
86-Oregon Institute of Technology
87-Oregon State University
88-Pacific Lutheran University
89-Pacific University
90-Penn State University
91-Portland State University
92-Prescott College
93-Purdue University
94-Quest University Canada
95-Radford University
96-Regis University
97-Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
98-Rice University
99-Rochester Institute of Technology
100-Rocky Mountain College
101-Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
102-Rutgers
103- The State University of New Jersey
104-Saint John's University
105-Saint Louis University
106-Saint Mary's College of California
107-Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
108-Samford University
109-San Diego State University
110-San Jose State University
111-San Juan College
112-Santa Clara University
113-Sarah Lawrence College
114-Savannah College of Art and Design
115-Seattle Pacific University
116-Seattle University
117-Seton Hall University
118-Simpson College
119-Soka University of America
120-Sonoma State University
121-South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
122-Southern Methodist University
123-Southern Utah University
124-St. Edward's University
125-St. Katherine College
126-St. Mary's University
127-Texas Christian University
128-Texas State University-San Marcos
129-The American University of Paris
130-The Catholic University of America
131-The New School
132-The University of Alabama
133-The University of Arizona
134-The University of Montana Western
135-The University of New Mexico
136-The University of Tampa
137-Trinity University
138-Tulane University
139-Universal Technical Institute
140-University of Advancing Technology
141-University of California Santa Barbara
142-University of California-Davis
143-University of California-Irvine
144-University of California-Merced
145-University of California-San Diego
146-University of California-Santa Cruz
147-University of Central Florida
148-University of Colorado Boulder
149-University of Colorado Colorado Springs
150-University of Hawaii at Manoa
151-University of Kansas
152-University of La Verne
153-University of Mary
154-University of Miami
155-University of New Haven
156-University of North Dakota
157-University of Northern Colorado
158-University of Oklahoma
159-University of Oregon
160-University of Portland
161-University of Redlands
162-University of Rochester
163-University of San Diego
164-University of San Francisco
165-University of Saskatchewan
166-University of St. Andrews
167-University of Utah
168-University of Washington
169-University of Wisconsin-Madison
170-University of Wyoming
171-Utah State University
172-Utah State University- College of Eastern Utah
173-Vanderbilt University
174-Vanguard University of Southern California
175-Virginia Military Institute
176-Wartburg College
177-Washington State University
178-Weber State University
179-Webster University
180-Wentworth Military Academy & College
181-Western State Colorado University
182-Western Washington University
183-Whittier College
184-Whitworth University
185-Willamette University
186-Xavier University School of Medicine in Aruba (XUSOM)
187-Yavapai College

 

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