how to fill out financial aid forms and not get ripped off

January 2, 2011
Filling out financial aid forms can be daunting. Putting the wrong information can cause you and your student to lose thousands of dollars of financial aid. Now get expert help so that you can maximize your financial aid eligibility. The Financial Aid Boot Camp reveals the magic formula that colleges use to determine your financial […]

Filling out financial aid forms can be daunting. Putting the wrong information can cause you and your student to lose thousands of dollars of financial aid.

Now get expert help so that you can maximize your financial aid eligibility.

The Financial Aid Boot Camp reveals the magic formula that colleges use to determine your financial aid package. Now discover the secrets to maximize f using these closely guarded secrets that financial aid offices across the US pray you never find out.

In these informative videos, we will discuss the vital information parents and students need to know to maximize college financial aid regardless of how good of a student he/she is.

<VIDEO>

CSS Profile Student Guide PDF Document

This video is complements of this website.

Order the full version with more tips with over 2 hours of instructional content packed videos.

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I hate the FAFSA!

January 1, 2011
Anyone can fill out the FAFSA form however, filling it out correctly that is another story. According to the Department of Education over 70% of these forms are submitted with some kind of error. Don't be a statistic! If you knew how to answer each question line by line and knew how to answer it […]

Anyone can fill out the FAFSA form however, filling it out correctly that is another story. According to the Department of Education over 70% of these forms are submitted with some kind of error. Don't be a statistic!

If you knew how to answer each question line by line and knew how to answer it so that your student qualifies for the most aid humanly possible, how great would that be?

Errors could cause delays and worst case scenario, lost opportunity for financial aid.

A new website launched just in time for financial aid and FAFSA season explains line by line and step by step how to fill out this form correctly, accurately and to the benefit of the student. AZCollegePlanning.com is just that needed direction, the expertise professional guidance for every family. Check it out you’ll be glad you did.

Check out the other stuff on this website and don't be a DOE statistic!

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It’s time to fill out the FAFSA, Aaaarg!

December 31, 2010
Have you heard of parents who just hate the FAFSA and out of frustration they end up giving up. There is hope!

Have you heard of parents who just hate the FAFSA and out of frustration they end up giving up.

One couple came into my office about a month back and they wanted to know what they did wrong because their EFC was over exaggerated by over $100,000. With an EFC (expected family contribution) over a $100k, this means this family will not get any type of need based scholarships.

Now here’s the stats on this family, they make $98,000 in AGI, have some assets, have over $300k in a 401k and were one of the few people who had equity in their home. When I reviewed their SAR (student aid report) I found a few blatant errors. After correcting these their EFC was reduced to a manageable level and they qualified for need based aid.

Now there is a new source that can help families not make mistakes that could potentially cost them thousands of dollars of aid. The updated website.

This website has videos, PDF documents and line by line instructions on how to fill out these critical forms without making huge mistakes and how to fill it out so that you qualify for the most aid possible!

One of the many tips is to make sure that you are on the correct website fafsa.gov or fafsa.ed.gov. Do not go to any .com or.edu or .org website to file the fafsa!

 

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just in time for FAFSA

December 30, 2010
On http://collegecompass.tv are how to videos that could save you tons of headaches and time so that you are not lost when filling out the most important of all financial aid forms. In the videos and the accompanying book I go over the financial aid form line by line and explain exactly what the question means and how to answer the question so that your student qualifies for the most financial aid possible.

The website is done, live and ready just in time for FAFSA.

On this website there are how to videos that could save you tons of headaches and time so that you are not lost when filling out the most important of all financial aid forms. In the videos and the accompanying book I go over the financial aid form line by line and explain exactly what the question means and how to answer the question so that your student qualifies for the most financial aid possible.

By filling out this critical form correctly your EFC (expected family contribution) will not be overly exaggerated because the wrong numbers where put in the wrong fields.

Check it out. Videos, PDFs, required resources and more!

All this just in time for financial aid season!

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Financial Aid Boot Camp exclusively on this website.

December 29, 2010
AZ College Consulting, LLC presents the Financial Aid Boot Camp exclusively on this website.   Parents & students learn the secrets to maximize financial aid at ANY college.   Dear Parents, students and neighbors, You must view this BOOT CAMP session in its entirety so that you can take full advantage of every financial aid package, […]

AZ College Consulting, LLC presents the Financial Aid Boot Camp exclusively on this website.

 

Parents & students learn the secrets to maximize financial aid
at ANY college.

 

Dear Parents, students and neighbors,

You must view this BOOT CAMP session in its entirety so that you can take full advantage of every financial aid package, know the process and know what happens after you click the submit button. You MUST sit in on this closed door session especially if you have a high school senior. High school underclassmen and parents get a jump start on the financial aid process.

The Financial Aid Boot Camp reveals the magic formula that colleges use to determine your financial aid package and how to maximize it using these closely guarded secrets that financial aid offices across the US pray you never find out.

In these informative financial aid boot camps we will discuss the vital information parents and students need to maximize college financial aid regardless of how good of a student he/she is.

Over 2 hours of video plus downloadable PDF documents and links to required websites.
Topics discussed:

  • The secrets to getting every dollar that your student is entitled to
  • How six figure + income earners can maximize need based aid
  • Financial aid forms explained line by line & how to capitalize
  • The number one website to avoid when filing financial aid.
  • What’s next in the college process, final college selection. Before you decide on a college, you need to know how to get the numbers to benefit you.
  • You may have already got in, now what?
  • FAFSA form, what is it and what needs to be done BEFORE you log into the website.
  • The CSS Profile financial aid form, for some schools if this form is not submitted, your child will not get any aid.
  • If you have money saved for college, having it in the wrong account can cost you 25% to 50% more.
  • The fastest way to file (financial aid is first come first serve) how to be the first ones in line.
  • According to the Department of Education, 75% of the financial aid forms are submitted with some kind of mistakes, avoid these mistakes by knowing the rules.
  • Any questions that you might have
  • Plus more

 

The Financial Aid Boot Camp is presented by J.D. Wyczalek (why-zall-ick) the founder of AZ College Consulting, LLC - Arizona’s premier college consulting and college planning firm. He has been featured on local radio and TV stations as well as speaking events nationwide.

 


Invest in the information presented.

 

Mom who attended the closed door session.

 

 

 

With over two hours of content packed videos and PDF's, links and more, the information on this web site is critical need to know information.

We’ll discuss financial aid forms including the FAFSA, the CSS Profile and all the other information you need to understand in order to maximize the amount of need based financial aid you are eligible to receive!

  • How to pick colleges that will give you the best financial aid packages
  • Which assets are taken into consideration when the U.S. Department of Education calculates your Family Contribution
  • How to lower your “out-of-pocket” costs and get the maximum amount of money from each school
  • The single biggest mistake 9 out of 10 parents make when applying for scholarships that literally cost them thousands of dollars, and how to avoid it
  • How to double or triple your eligibility for free grant money
  • Plus more

 

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THE question

December 21, 2010
The question every future college student must ask is...    Send article as PDF   

The question every future college student must ask is...

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Average national SAT scores

December 7, 2010
By Mary Beth Marklein, USA TODAY original post here Average national SAT scores for the high school class of 2010 fluctuated slightly by section compared with last year, but remained unchanged overall, a report says. Asian students continue to post the greatest average increases among racial and ethnic groups, and blacks score the lowest. Average […]

By Mary Beth Marklein, USA TODAY original post here

Average national SAT scores for the high school class of 2010 fluctuated slightly by section compared with last year, but remained unchanged overall, a report says.

Asian students continue to post the greatest average increases among racial and ethnic groups, and blacks score the lowest. Average scores for students from wealthy families were among the highest of all.

The report also highlights a gap in average scores between students who completed a core academic curriculum, and who took honors or college-level coursework, and those who didn't.

"This report confirms that there are no tricks and there are no shortcuts to college readiness," said Gaston Caperton, president of the non-profit College Board, which released the report Monday. "Students who take more rigorous courses in high school are more prepared to succeed in college and beyond."

Test takers averaged 1,509 points out of a possible 2,400 in three sections, the same as last year.

Nearly 1.6 million members of the class of 2010 took the test, a record. Of those, 41.5% were minorities, up from 40% last year.

College Board officials characterized the flat one-year change as encouraging because average scores typically drop as more students, and a more diverse range of students, take the test. They also noted that, over the last 10 years, as the minority participation rate grew 78.3%, math scores have climbed 2 points while critical reading scores have declined 4 points.

Even so, Caperton urged schools to offer more rigorous courses and said, "Kids have to work harder." The USA, once a world leader in the proportion of adults 25-34 with college credentials, now ranks 12th among industrialized countries, the College Board says.

"America's students are not completing college at a high rate because our education system is not preparing them to succeed in college," he said. "If we want to improve college completion, we have to improve college readiness. If we want to improve readiness we have to measure it."

Critics of standardized testing suggest the federal No Child Left Behind law has contributed to the problem. The law, which went into effect in the 2003-04 academic year, requires states that want to receive federal funding for schools to develop skill assessment for all students in certain grades.

Since then, reading scores have declined from 508 to 501, math from 518 to 516. Writing scores have dropped 5 points since that section was added in 2005, from 497 to 492.

Average composite scores on the ACT college entrance exam have fluctuated between 20.9 and 21.2 (out of 36) since 2003-04; this year's scores, released last month, averaged 21.0.

At the same time, racial and ethnic gaps in test scores are not narrowing; since 2006, average scores for Asian Americans are up 36 points, while scores for blacks are down 14.

Those data "contradict the claim that more high-stakes testing improves educational quality and equity," says Robert Schaeffer, spokesman for the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, a critic of standardized tests. "We keep adding more and more high-stakes tests (but) have left more children further behind."

 You can increase your scores with Dr. Beasley's secret test taking strategies!

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Is the College Debt Bubble Ready to Explode?

December 6, 2010
Is the College Debt Bubble Ready to Explode? by Laura Rowley Friday, December 3, 2010 Kelli Space, 23, graduated from Northeastern University in 2009 with a bachelor's in sociology — and a whopping $200,000 in student loan debt. Space, who lives with her parents and works full-time, put up a Web site called TwoHundredThou.com soliciting […]

Is the College Debt Bubble Ready to Explode?
by Laura Rowley
Friday, December 3, 2010

Kelli Space, 23, graduated from Northeastern University in 2009 with a bachelor's in sociology — and a whopping $200,000 in student loan debt. Space, who lives with her parents and works full-time, put up a Web site called TwoHundredThou.com soliciting donations to help meet her debt obligation, which is $891 a month. That number jumps to $1,600 next November.

In creating the site, Space, of course is hoping to ease her financial burden, but it's "mainly to inform others on the dangers of how quickly student loans add up," she said. So far she's raised $6,671.56, according to her site.

Space is just one example — albeit an extreme one — of a student loan bubble that may be about to burst. Over the last decade, private lenders, abetted by college financial aid offices, eagerly handed young people hundreds of thousands of dollars to earn bachelor's degrees. As a result of easy credit, declining grants and soaring tuitions, more than two-thirds of students graduated with debt in 2008 — up from 45 percent in 1993. The average debt load is $24,000, according to the Project on Student Debt.

In some respects, the student loan crisis looks remarkably like the subprime mortgage crisis. First, outstanding student loan debt has ballooned: It grew roughly four-fold in the last decade to $833 billion as of June — surpassing outstanding credit-card debt for the first time.

Secondly, defaults have soared amid a difficult job market. In 2008, the most recent year for which data are available, nearly 3.4 million borrowers began repayment, and more than 238,000 defaulted on their loans. The number of loans that went into forbearance or deferment (when borrowers receive temporary relief from payments) rose to 22 percent in 2007, from 10 percent a decade earlier, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Over a 15-year period, default rates range from 20 percent for federal loans to 40 percent on loans to students who attend for-profit schools, The Chronicle found.

Just as lenders offered easy no-money-down mortgages to unqualified borrowers during the housing boom, private student loan firms offered instant online approval for up to 100 percent of college costs to students, in some cases for four consecutive years. In early 2007, half of loans made by Sallie Mae, one of the industry's biggest players, were to students with no co-signers, according to Mark Kantrowitz, founder of informational Web site finaid.org.

As tuition costs have outpaced the caps on federal loans, more families have turned to private loans, which carry higher interest rates and stricter repayment rules. Last year private lenders supplied about $10 billion in loans (compared with $100 billion in federal loans). A study by the College Board found about a third of graduates in 2007-2008 had private loans. About two dozen private lenders offer student loans, and their business is growing at 25 percent annually, after a temporary decline amid the recent credit crisis, according to finaid.org.

Space, for instance, took out $12,000 in federal loans and borrowed $189,000 from private lender Sallie Mae. In an email interview, Space said she spent the money on tuition and room and board for four years; two summer semesters; a three-month study abroad program in Ireland; and books for three semesters. Some $20,000 of her debt is accrued interest. (Interest rates on her loans range from 3 percent to 9 percent.)

Space worked throughout high school and college at restaurants, retail stores and a nonprofit firm. But her savings dissipated quickly at Northeastern, where annual costs are $49,452. She's now looking for a second, part-time job. (Northeastern officials did not respond to an interview request.)

You'd think would-be borrowers would understand the impact of borrowing that much for college, but Space says that's not the case. "I think it is essential for young people to have someone sit down and explain how [loans] affect your credit, how much the debt will be with interest, and how this will truly change life later on. Many people say loaded things, like, 'go to the best school you can get into,' or 'student loans are considered good debt.' Solely following this advice led me to the place I'm at today," she said in an email.

A Sallie Mae spokeswoman said she couldn't comment on Space's situation, but called that level of borrowing "extremely rare." Sallie Mae requires its private student loans to be certified by the school's financial aid office to ensure that the amount borrowed is no more than the cost of attendance, less any other financial aid received. She added that Sallie Mae reviews the applicant's and co-signer's financial situation before approving a loan.

But Kantrowitz says Sallie Mae forked over a shocking amount of money. "To borrow $50,000 in the first year of college is already excessive. But where was the (lending) rationality in the second year when the student was borrowing another $50,000?" says Kantrowitz, adding that students who must borrow more than $10,000 a year for an undergraduate education should find a cheaper school, or start at community college.

Zac Bissonnette, a senior at the University of Massachusetts and author of the new book "Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships or Mooching Off My Parents," agrees that there's plenty of blame to go around.

"It's profoundly stupid, but at the same time it takes a village to screw up that bad," he says. "I support the personal responsibility argument, but if you're 18 and the first person in your family to go to college, how can people absolve the college or the lender of responsibility?"

While the housing collapse's impact was wide-ranging — wreaking havoc on a multitude of industries and market participants — the primary losers in this debacle are the borrowers. Lenders can't repossess a college degree, and changes to the bankruptcy law in 1984 and 2005 mean borrowers can't charge off their obligations the way they can shed credit-card, mortgage or even gambling debt when they file for bankruptcy. (Just 29 of the 72,000 borrowers in bankruptcy in 2008 were able to prove "undue hardship" and have their student loans discharged, according to Kantrowitz.)

On the upside, federal student loans carry some consumer protections: lower interest rates; payment forbearance or deferment in the event of unemployment; income-based repayment programs; and forgiveness programs for public service careers. But the government will garnish the wages, income tax refunds and social security and disability checks of defaulters. Private loan terms are more treacherous, with fewer options for payment deferral, and fees and penalties for missing payments. Lenders can also get a court order to garnish wages. For its part, Sallie Mae says it has set up customized workouts for thousands of financially distressed customers.

"With this kind of debt on your credit record, you won't be able to get a car loan or a mortgage, and you'll have difficulty renting an apartment," says Kantrowitz. Some borrowers have lost jobs because the collection agencies called them at work illegally. Indebted grads are also less likely to go to graduate school, and delay getting married, having children and saving for retirement.

Kantrowitz says he doesn't think the student loan industry will implode, but its "cascading effect" on household finances and the U.S. economy will become noticeable by the year 2020. That's why he and educators, as well as some lenders, support legislation to reform bankruptcy laws.

In April, the Private Student Loan Bankruptcy Fairness Act of 2010 was introduced in the House of Representatives and The Fairness for Struggling Students Act was introduced in the Senate. Both would modify the bankruptcy law to allow certain educational debts to be eliminated. (Borrowers would still be on the hook for federal loans, which are funded by taxpayer dollars.)

"There are some people who go to school and live a very high lifestyle and graduate with a lot of debt, who could potentially attempt to get the debt discharged right after they get a job," says Kantrowitz. "But the bankruptcy code has enough anti-abuse provisions, and judges have enough discretion, that they could prevent someone from doing that."

The upshot would likely be tighter borrowing standards and higher interest rates to reflect the additional risk, making loans less accessible to low-income households.

Meanwhile, securitization of student loans throws a twist into potential legislation. In May, Standard & Poor's came out with a report suggesting that restoring bankruptcy protection would have a negative impact on the private loan asset-backed securities market, although it called the magnitude of the impact "uncertain."

Kantrowitz, however, says the effect would be minimal: "In aggregate, we're talking about $1 billion a year — but relative to all the lending that goes on, it's not that much."

As for Space, she says she is determined to pay off her debt and regrets the path she took to get her degree: "Everyone from Barack Obama to Bill Gates keeps pushing a college education as the way to secure one's economic future. That is a view that should be heavily qualified."

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New improved ways to get financial aid for college

November 30, 2010
New, improved ways to get financial aid for college By Linda Stern Thu Nov 18, 2010 2:59am EST (Reuters) - Memo to parents of high school seniors: The new year is no time to relax, just because your child might have filed those college applications. It's time for you to fill out the financial aid […]

New, improved ways to get financial aid for college

By Linda Stern

Thu Nov 18, 2010 2:59am EST

(Reuters) - Memo to parents of high school seniors: The new year is no time to relax, just because your child might have filed those college applications. It's time for you to fill out the financial aid request forms right now - even before you do your taxes and figure out exactly how much you made last year.

That's because early birds tend to get more generous aid packages. Though most financial aid filing deadlines extend all the way into the summer for the fall semester, financial aid administrators do often give out more aid early in the season.

With tuition bills rising and more families needing and qualifying for aid, it's good to get your request in early.

Here's what you need to know.

* The most important form to fill out is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA. You can find it at www.fafsa.gov. Other sites that have .com endings may ask you to pay to submit your form, something you shouldn't have to do. As the Department of Education reminds, "Remember, the first F in ‘FAFSA' stands for ‘free' - so use the official government site to submit your application." The FAFSA is the one form that virtually all financial aid offices require. In addition, you will need to fill out this form if your child wants to take out low-interest federal student loans.

* There are other forms, too. Many private colleges and universities also require the college board's PROFILE form, available here profileonline.collegeboard.com. Some schools require their own form, as well. Contact the financial aid office of every school your child is applying to, to find out exactly which forms they require.

* Don't assume you won't qualify. Even families earning well over six-figure incomes can qualify for financial aid from well-heeled and expensive schools, and you have to ask you get it. You can get a rough estimate of how much federal aid you will qualify for at the Department of Education's forecasting www.fafsa4caster.ed.gov

* It's complex, but less than it used to be. The Obama Administration claims to have simplified the FAFSA in a number of ways. Many low-income students will be able to skip dozens of questions about their family assets. Several other questions have been eliminated or streamlined. Roughly one in five students who doesn't submit a FAFSA drops it because the form is too complicated, says Mark Kantrowitz of finaid.org, an information and research site. Persevere.

* Help is available. The YMCA and other organizations sponsor "College Goal Sunday" (collegegoalsundayusa.org/). It's a day when FAFSA-savvy advisors run free clinics for people who need help filling out their forms. Check the web site to see when they'll be in your state. In North Carolina, the state's financial aid officers choose one day a year as "FAFSA Day" and will be providing free advice and assistance on that day.

* You'll have to guesstimate. You can file your FAFSA now, and update it later, after you get all of the detailed information you'll need from the tax documents you'll be receiving over the next month or so.

* Don't short yourself. Items like retirement plan assets and home equity are exempt from consideration in the federal financial aid formula, so don't include them when you are calculating your net worth.

* Position your family for maximum aid. If you've got money sitting around in a savings account and you've got debts, you'll better qualify for aid if you use the cash to pay off the debts. This works if your family is borderline aid-eligible. If you make so much that you won't qualify for aid anyway, you may need that cash to help pay for college, so do a rough estimate of your aid eligibility, before you move money around.

* Be strategic about divorced family income. Colleges like it when divorced parents who have remarried put all of their household incomes on the financial aid form. That would give a student whose parents have remarried and share joint custody as many as four incomes to report, even if all of those parents and step-parents won't help the child pay for college. But you really only have to report the income of the parent with whom the child lives with most, as well as any child support that parent receives from the non-custodial parent. There are strategies available here, notes Kantrowitz. If either household has additional students in college at the same time, you can usually claim those other students on the form, too. For more about how to handle this, read his advice about the finer points of financial aid for divorced parents here

* Share unusual information. The FAFSA depends on data from the previous tax year. But if you looked good on paper for most of the year but recently had a setback, such as a job loss or expensive illness, let the individual schools' financial aid offices know. They do have the leeway to dole out more than the minimum where they see a special need.

Orignal article on Reuters

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Are you a helicopter parent?

November 4, 2010
Helicopter Parents Reconsidered from CollegeBoard.com Take the Quiz Given all the negative attention they receive in the media, you might expect to find swarms of "helicopter parents" at every high school and college campus across the country. These overly involved parents earned that nickname because they hover over their children, swooping in to fight their […]

Helicopter Parents Reconsidered

from CollegeBoard.com

Take the Quiz

Given all the negative attention they receive in the media, you might expect to find swarms of "helicopter parents" at every high school and college campus across the country. These overly involved parents earned that nickname because they hover over their children, swooping in to fight their battles and make their decisions for them.

But such parents may in fact be rare. What's more, a recent study found that a high level of parental involvement correlates with a positive college experience.

The Benefits of Parental Involvement

There is mounting evidence that parents should take more rather than less interest in their children's education. In a review of research studies, the Harvard Family Research Project found that teens whose parents play an active role do better in school and are more likely to enroll in college. Unfortunately, families tend to become less involved as their children progress through middle and high school.

Your teenager might even welcome your participation. The College Board and the Art & Science Group found that almost 30 percent of college-bound seniors surveyed wished their parents did more to help them look for and apply to colleges. Only 6 percent wanted their parents to do less.

How many parents went to extremes? Not as many as you might think. More than 30 percent of students surveyed said their parents were very involved in the college admissions process. But parents almost always stopped short of doing the work on their own. For example, only 1 percent of students reported that their parents wrote their application essays for them.

What about those students whose parents do get overly involved and continue to hover after they start college? According to the National Survey of Student Engagement, they are more engaged in their studies, taking part in more educational activities, and are more satisfied with their college experience. It’s important to note that the survey defined helicopter parents as those who often meet with campus officials to solve their child's problems.

The study also found that the children of helicopter parents earned lower grades. But the report doesn't blame parental intervention. Rather, it theorizes that parents take action because their children struggle in school.

A Healthy Balance

So is there such a thing as too much parental involvement after all? Yes. While participation in a child's education is encouraged, parents should respect the needs of maturing teens. As children grow, they need to practice making their own decisions—with guidance from their parents. The Harvard report advises that teens need to face challenges that will build skills and self-esteem. They should take advantage of opportunities to shape their identity and speak their mind.

As you strive to maintain a healthy balance, try thinking of yourself as a coach. You're there to provide structure, give advice, and serve as a role model, but it's your child who needs to step up to the plate. Instead of keeping track of college application deadlines yourself, for example, work as a team to set up a calendar or weekly planner and let your child take charge of meeting those deadlines. You can also help by sharing your own strategies for staying organized.

The Quiz

Are you playing too big a role in your child's education? You'll need to take a hard look at yourself to answer that question, but you can also ask your child. The response might surprise you.

To gauge your participation in the college admissions process, consider the following questions. They'll help you determine whether you should get more involved, allow your child more independence, or stay the course.

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