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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Scottsdale College Fair 14

August 19, 2014
the Scottsdale College Fair 14 2014 Scottsdale College Fair Saturday, September 27th, 20141:00-3:00pm the day before the Phoenix College Fair at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. This website is easier to use than the NACAC website. (about 100 colleges will be in attendance) Scottsdale College Fair September 27 2014, 1-3PM Scottsdale Center for the Performing […]

the Scottsdale College Fair 14

2014 Scottsdale College Fair 
Saturday, September 27th, 2014
1:00-3:00pm

the day before the Phoenix College Fair at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. This website is easier to use than the NACAC website. (about 100 colleges will be in attendance)

Scottsdale College Fair September 27 2014, 1-3PM Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts 7380 E. 2nd Street Scottsdale, AZ 85281   www.ScottsdaleCollegeFair14.com

Here is a link to the colleges that will be attending... http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.410373392343057.86931.166314886748910&type=1 about 98 colleges are represented...

Go to the fair, see the colleges, meet the recruiters.

 

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Essay Prompts for 2014-2015 Common Application

February 13, 2014
Essay Prompts for 2014 -2015 Common Application Just announced this February 2014: the 2014-2015 essay prompts will remain unchanged from the previous year. The 2014-2015 Common Application, launch date August 1, 2014, will include five “personal statement” essay prompts. The prompts were designed to enable applicants to tell their unique stories as part of a […]

Essay Prompts for 2014 -2015 Common Application

Just announced this February 2014: the 2014-2015 essay prompts will remain unchanged from the previous year.

The 2014-2015 Common Application, launch date August 1, 2014, will include five “personal statement” essay prompts. The prompts were designed to enable applicants to tell their unique stories as part of a holistic selection process.

Carmen Lopez, Executive Director of a non-profit catering to college success of Native American and Native Hawaiian students, believes this is especially true for these types of students and any student "We have found the Common App's new essay prompts to be highly effective. Students are presenting themselves as multi-dimensional, writing with an authentic voice, and writing meaningfully as both students and Native students."

In a recent survey, nearly 70% of Common Application member colleges and 90% of school counselors indicated that the prompts are effective in helping students represent themselves to colleges.

Students are instructed to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic that “helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice” and enables “readers of your application to know you apart from courses, grades, and test scores” using the prompt “to inspire and structure your response”.

The Common Application will be maintaining the word limit of 650 words for the “personal statement” essay. 650 words is the limit, not the goal. The application will not accept a response shorter than 250 words or greater than 650 words.

The following prompts on the 2014 -1015 Common Application:

  1. Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  2. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
  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 place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
  5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

Remember to sign up for the Application Boot Camp Class

Use this link to register for this class http://azcollegeplanning.com/bootcamp/800-application-boot-camp

Here is the article from collegeapp.org 

 

1

One Point = $50,000 Lost!

December 6, 2013
Terminal mistake made by too many families and students: Starting the college process late. I met with a family early October who had a senior.  He was a great kid, good grades, a high PSAT score, great extracurricular activities and leadership – a prime candidate for scholarships.  However, he had never taken the SAT or […]

Terminal mistake made by too many families and students: Starting the college process late.

I met with a family early October who had a senior.  He was a great kid, good grades, a high PSAT score, great extracurricular activities and leadership – a prime candidate for scholarships.  However, he had never taken the SAT or ACT, so we immediately signed him up for October 26 ACT (with the late fee).  As we discussed his college choices, his top choice had a December 1st  deadline for scholarship applications.  I was sure we would have a good shot if we could squeeze in an intensive prep in the few weeks we had.  He worked hard and we got his scores November 11 off the website.  He scored high… but not high enough.  He was ONE POINT short of a FULL SCHOLARSHIP!  We contacted the college before Thanksgiving about another test date.  They were polite but stressed, “We have deadlines for a reason, especially when we are awarding scholarships.” With his scores and resume, he would qualify for a partial scholarship, but not the full scholarship.

The difference is a little over $12,000 a year or $50,000 over four years!

ONE Point!  FOUR MORE correct answers!  $12,000 per answer!

He went ahead and sent in his application.  We still have other options, choices, and opportunities with other colleges, but it is sad that we missed this by ONE POINT.  If he would have come a month or two earlier and we could have gotten another test under his belt and more prep time, I am sure this would have been a “slam dunk!”  He would have had a full scholarship to his first choice in his back pocket before Thanksgiving with no pressure on him or his family the rest of his senior year.  Instead, we go to Plan B.  More work, more time, and more stress.

Time is your enemy.

This happens every year. I meet with a family who has a senior, great kid, tons of potential but TIME is against us. There just isn’t enough time to properly position and market those kids. And the statement “If only… if only we came to you a year or two ago..” is uttered by these parents.

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to start early.

If you know families with sophomores and juniors, please share this with them.

So what should you do?

  1. Attend one of my free workshops, there are two scheduled for December on the 10th or 11th. Use this link to register - http://azcollegeplanning.com/static/workshop.html
  2. If you have attended the free introductory workshop, then call me immediately at 1-888-237-2087 ext 2, and schedule a time to schedule a College Planning Analysis. At this appointment I will evaluate your family specific situation and come up with a strategy. This appointment is $97.00 but I will waive this fee if the appointment is scheduled for December or January. Mention this note.
  3. Share this note on Facebook, forward it to a friend or print it out and give it to a family who has a junior, sophomore or freshman in high school.

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How to increase your Test Scores and Knock It Out of the Park

December 1, 2013
 How to increase your Test Scores and Knock It Out of the Park PDF Version of this page One of my students Matt knocked the ACT score out of the park. This increase in his test score changed his scholarship from good to GREAT! It took effort and you can do it too! Matt specifically […]

 How to increase your Test Scores and Knock It Out of the Park

PDF Version of this page

One of my students Matt knocked the ACT score out of the park. This increase in his test score changed his scholarship from good to GREAT! It took effort and you can do it too! Matt specifically mentions the ACT, however the methodology can be applied to the SAT, P-SAT and even APs!

Here's what I believe bumped up my score:

  1. Taking the ACT 3 times helped me get used to the test format. (*Matt took the SAT and ACT and did better on the ACT. He will supply the college his ACT scores. Matt did not wait until his senior year to start taking the tests, start early. High achieving student should start as early as 7thgrade. When Matt took the ACT his second time, he got the same test score just like the first time he took the test. The reason his score did not change was because he did not do any prep between the first and second tests. Before he took it a third time, he studied the prep book and videos.)
  2. I went to the same testing center almost every time I've taken the ACT or SAT, so I knew where I was driving to and I knew where in the school to go to check in.
  3. Taking the test with people from my school who I am well acquainted with helped relax me before the test. Also talking to them in the morning before the test helped wake me up.
  4. Practice tests from "The Real ACT Prep Guide" book made an authentic test feel where I could time myself and bubble in answers. My improvement in the sections made me more confident in myself. (*Matt reviewed one section from the book areas that he needed to improve in. He reviewed the book 3-4 times a week about 30 minutes each section for two months.*** Use an official Prep Book from CollegeBoard or an official prep book from ACT. Using a prep book from another company or unofficial book will not produce the same results.)
  5. Snack for the break. I felt a significant difference on the second half of the ACT when I didn't have a snack the second time I took it than when I did have a snack the third time. (*Being distracted because of grumbling hunger can cost you points)
  6. Lay everything out that I was bringing for the test the night before. (Pencils, ID, admission ticket, calculator, snack, etc.)
  7. Getting up at 6:00 AM gave me more time to wake up. (Go to bed earlier the night before.
  8. English (1st section) strategy: Mouth the sentences and try each possibility to mentally hear which sounds correct. (Straight from Dr. Beasley’s test strategies, how to beat the test.)
  9. Math (2nd section) strategy: Know all formulas and don't spend more than a minute on a question.
  10. Critical Reading (3rd section) strategy: I find it easier to read the passage and underline key information and not have to look back at the passage when answering the questions. Time is incredibly limited for reading. (*Again straight from Dr. Beasley’s test strategies, how to beat the test.)
  11. Science (4th section) strategy: Look at the question first then answer it using the graphs and possibly skim any paragraph information.

-Matt A. Class of 2013

Numbers 5 through 11 are straight from Dr. Beasley’s test prep videos. Review the Test Prep strategies on AZCollegePlanning.com.

  • Take a real live test for practice, review the videos, review an official prep book, retake. Matt took two months reviewing and studying the official prep book. [Starting review the week before or worse the night before will not produce the results you want.]

A great test score is within your grasp if you implement these ideas.

You can do it! You can craft and create a great score.

 

 

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