Will Obama’s bill save the financial aid system

July 29, 2009
Obama bill makes financial aid application simpler for college applicants by Nneka Enurah, July 29, 2009 (J.D.'s comments in red) The Obama administration has requested billions of dollars in new scholarships and credit along with a less complicated financial aid application which looks to make a college education more accessible for students. Experts say 16 […]

Obama bill makes financial aid application simpler for college applicants
by Nneka Enurah, July 29, 2009

(J.D.'s comments in red)

The Obama administration has requested billions of dollars in new scholarships and credit along with a less complicated financial aid application which looks to make a college education more accessible for students.

Experts say 16 million families struggle with the application process for federal aid and "an estimated 1.5 million enrolled students who are probably eligible for Pell grants failed to apply." (One reason the myth of ‘we make to much money to qualify for aid' is because a family fills out the FAFSA form incorrectly and they do not get aid. They then talk with a neighbor or friend, telling them they did not get aid so why bother. The second family then NEVER bothers to even try.)

The new bill aims to simplify the current Federal Application for Student Aid, eliminating questions that have no real bearing on a student's eligibility for federal aid. The current form consists of 153 questions, and millions of students and their families find it difficult to complete the application. (The new proposed form eliminates 8 questions only if you are a dependant student.)

The bill also hopes to invest money into historically black colleges and universities as well as hispanic-serving institutions. Additional changes include an increase in the minimum amount of the Pell Grant, which is $490 now and will be raised to $690. It will also put $6 billion into Perkins Loans.

Although some feel the proposed changes will benefit students, Patrick Murphy, the director of Financial Planning at Elon University, said he believes some of the changes presented could be harmful.

One of the first concerns that Murphy has involves the asset cap of $150,000 for students requesting need-based aid. This cap would prohibit students from receiving any need-based grants, loans or work assistance.

"It is not difficult for a family that has low income to acquire assets of up to $150,000," Murphy said. (As an example home equity, company stocks, an inheritance or a combination of these could easily top $150,000.)

The new cap, which would go into effect July 1, 2011, could exclude families that otherwise would qualify for need-based aid. (It is extremely important to shelter assets from the financial aid formula.)

The new bill also calls for drastic changes to the student loan program. Currently there are two ways in which students can get a loan. The school can act as the lender by direct lending, or a bank can lend the funds under the Federal Family Education Loan Program, FFELP.

Another issue that Murphy has with the proposed bill is that it plans to do away with FFELP. "Customer service would decrease if more schools were forced to handle all the loans themselves," Murphy said. "Some institutions might not be able to handle the new work load." (If schools are burdened with this the end result is tuition and fees will yet again increase placing this problem squarely on the shoulders of the consumers, students and parents.)

The bill will also eliminate subsidized Stafford loans to graduate and professional students after July 1, 2015. Murphy said currently, graduate students are eligible for $85,000 in subsidized loans and an additional $12,000 in unsubsidized loans.

Loans the government pays the interest on until a student is out of school are subsidized and are much more affordable in the long run. Eliminating unsubsidized loans as an option for graduate students could be a deterrent to students who would otherwise pursue graduate programs.

There are still a number of changes that must be addressed with the new bill.
"Elon University is going to do whatever it can do to make the transition unnoticeable to students and will continue to serve the students and their families to the best of its ability," Murphy said.

J.D.'s comments: When was the last time the government got it's grubby little paws on something and made it easier? The Higher Education Opportunity Act is a 432 page amendment of a 3,077 page document. How many more pages are they going to add? See it here- http://www.ed.gov/policy/highered/leg/hea08/index.html

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Kids college or build retirement: Have cake & eat it too!

July 8, 2009
Is Paying for Your Kid’s Education Still a Top Priority? In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to rank one financial priority over another. But now, more than ever, Americans are faced with many tough financial trade-offs. Paying off debt or saving for retirement? Raiding the 401(k) to pay the bills or putting them on […]

Is Paying for Your Kid’s Education Still a Top Priority?

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to rank one financial priority over another.

But now, more than ever, Americans are faced with many tough financial trade-offs. Paying off debt or saving for retirement? Raiding the 401(k) to pay the bills or putting them on a credit card? Trying to slog it out with a tough mortgage or walking away from a home?

New survey data from Country Financial highlights some of the tension parents are face when it comes to juggling their stressed retirement accounts and the ballooning cost of higher education for their kids.

Forty-seven percent of the 1,241 surveyed said that their children’s college plans are a higher priority than retirement savings, whereas 41% said that retirement savings came first. A majority (61%) said that the recession was not going to impact their plans for their children’s college education. Considering all of the belt-tightening — both from families and financial-aid offices strained by anemic endowments — we’ve heard about in the last few months, this is particularly astonishing. In spite of one of the worst economies in generations, parents say they’re still willing to shell out a lot for college education.

This is the first time in three years, according to the surveyors, that parents have put financing a child’s college education over saving for retirement. Last year, 47% of those surveyed put retirement over education funding and 42% put education funding as No. 1.

Financial advisers, who are already begging their clients to keep their eyes on the retirement prize, must be frustrated by this news — especially as federal options for student borrowing have expanded in recent months.

The belief is that college is still worth the cost pervades, with 79% saying that it’s a good investment. (Some economists beg to differ.) Interestingly, 65% of the respondents say the cost of college causes more worry than the thought of their child leaving home (24%).

original article here

J.D.’s comments: Have your cake and eat it too. There is a little known way to accumulate wealth, pay for college and build up a sizeable retirement account using a special investment vehicle. All this in a comfortable easy manner. Learn how to recoup the interest payments you are making on cars, credit cards etc. Wanna know how? Call my office for an appointment. 1-888-237-2087 ext. 2

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Student Athlete, who, what, how, when

June 26, 2009
Coming very soon Is available now! the new book by J.D. Wyczalek (why-zall-ick) entitled: The New Student Athlete Handbook. Within it’s pages the secrets of top recruiting coaches are revealed on- How to get a sport scholarship, financial aid, be noticed by college coaches and get recruited to play on a college team. You need the […]

Coming very soon Is available now! the new book by J.D. Wyczalek (why-zall-ick) entitled:
The New Student Athlete Handbook.
Within it’s pages the secrets of top recruiting coaches are revealed on-
How to get a sport scholarship, financial aid, be noticed by college coaches and get recruited to play on a college team.

You need the answers to these questions.

  • Will playing my sport at high school and in summer tournaments get me noticed by the right school for me?
  • Are club or high school sports programs better for being seen and recruited?
  • Does it matter if I play in state or showcase tournaments and events?
  • If I’m not being recruited should I forget about a future in college sports?

The New Student Athlete’s Handbook

click here to order it & get it downloaded instantly!

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How to get a $2,500 tuition rebate

June 24, 2009
It sounds too good to be true, but if you meet income qualifications (and are careful with any 529 savings accounts), Uncle Sam is prepared to help cover college bills. After all we have been paying billions into the tax pool bucket isn't it time to get a piece of that pie back? Millions of […]

It sounds too good to be true, but if you meet income qualifications (and are careful with any 529 savings accounts), Uncle Sam is prepared to help cover college bills.

After all we have been paying billions into the tax pool bucket isn't it time to get a piece of that pie back?

Millions of students and parents struggling to raise cash for college this fall could have a happy surprise early next year: a tax credit of up to $2,500.

The whole key is to properly position yourself to qualify for it.

Download the PDF Special Report here compliments of AZCollegePlanning.com

(you'll need Acrobat Reader to view it.)

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Honk toot beep! I’m tooting my own horn!

June 17, 2009
Private admissions advisers gaining favor By LESLIE BRODY 5-29-09 http://www.montereyherald.com/living/ci_12476014?nclick_check=1 The number of private admission counselors has grown in recent years - especially in hyper-anxious, high-achieving communities - and colleges are more open to talking with them about the students they represent, say counselors and college admission officers. Danielle Toglia, an admissions director at George […]

Private admissions advisers gaining favor
By LESLIE BRODY
5-29-09 http://www.montereyherald.com/living/ci_12476014?nclick_check=1

The number of private admission counselors has grown in recent years - especially in hyper-anxious, high-achieving communities - and colleges are more open to talking with them about the students they represent, say counselors and college admission officers.

Danielle Toglia, an admissions director at George Washington University, recently polled counterparts at 25 colleges and found that most now take calls from independent counselors to discuss specific students or the college's needs for an incoming freshman class.

While about 30 percent of admissions officers won't take calls from private counselors, she said, "The trend has been that the college side sees independent counselors more positively than it used to." She said they're particularly open to those who had experience as high school guidance counselors or college admissions officers, because they know the ins and outs of the process.

Toglia's comments came at a conference of the New Jersey Association for College Admission Counseling in Parsippany this month. Several independent counselors, high school guidance counselors and college admission officers echoed her view.

Private counselors have long been a controversial part of the admissions frenzy. Critics charge they give an unfair leg-up to affluent students who already have extra advantages of expensive test prep classes, enrichment activities and homes in neighborhoods with better schools.

One college that won't communicate with independent counselors is Georgetown. "There's an equity issue here," said Bruce Chamberlin, senior associate director of admissions. "We need to make sure we are as accessible to students across all different socioeconomic diversities." Chamberlin said his office can't always tell whether an independent counselor has helped a student, but sometimes efforts to polish students' applications go too far. "We find ourselves yearning to understand the adolescent in the essay or the interview," he said.

Independent advisers say they help clients choose where to apply, organize visits and give feedback on personal essays but don't actually write them. They say they can give students more individual attention than high school guidance counselors swamped with disciplinary problems and escalating caseloads.

Private advisers also say they calm overwhelmed parents and spare them from the unsavory job of nagging young procrastinators to finish applications.

According to the Independent Educational Consultants Organization, the average cost of a private counselor nationwide runs about $125 per hour, or $3,600 for a three-year package, with rates slightly higher in the northeast. Rates at the high end hover around $7,000 for a three-year package, with a scant handful charging more than $20,000.

The ranks of private advisers have grown rapidly in recent years. IECO claims 750 members, almost triple the count five years ago, and says members helped place more than 40,000 students last year. Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions, College Coach and other firms have also launched private advising services.

Most clients are upper-middle class, but the students have become more diverse, said Mark Sklarow, executive director of IECO. Beyond academic stars, some need help finding schools that work well with the disabled, or English language learners, or those with special interests in the arts, for example.

Claire Cafaro, an independent adviser in Ridgewood who used to be a guidance counselor at Ridgewood High School, said many college officials recognized that independent advisers could help them find qualified students who were a good match for their schools.

Attitudes toward independent counselors "have really changed a lot," said Cafaro, immediate past president of the NJACAC. "Some independent counselors have convinced admission reps that they know what they're doing and are valid people who can be trusted. ... There is an understanding that high school counselors may not have the opportunity to advocate for their students as much."

Dennis Vasquez, a guidance counselor in Livingston, N.J., public schools, lamented that unequal access to private advisers has had a discouraging "psychological impact" on disadvantaged students: "They think rich families have the extra help - 'I can't afford it, so it puts me at the bottom of the totem pole.'"

Cafaro acknowledged the inequity but said private advisers had no magic tricks, and noted that outside of the most highly competitive colleges, most schools accepted most applicants. "There's a notion that independent counselors help kids get in in a secret way**," she said. "I'd be the first to say the majority of students can apply on their own. I could do my taxes without help but would rather hire an accountant."

One of her clients, David Zrike of Ridgewood, N.J., said the money paid off. His daughter Caroline got into her first choice. Ironically, it was Georgetown.

"Since college is one of the most important decisions we will face bringing up children, as well as the most expensive, my wife and I decided that the relatively small investment in an independent counselor was certainly worthwhile," he said. The independent counselor "helped to make what is an extremely stressful process a little less stressful."

J.D.'s Comments: ** If you know how the game is played we can stack the deck legally in your favor

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The Tylenol scholarship program

June 16, 2009
The Tylenol scholarship program helps students who are pursuing careers in the healthcare, life sciences, or related fields, manage the rising costs of education. The program will award $250,000 in scholarships based on leadership qualities and academic performance, including ten $10,000 and thirty $5,000 grants. Qualifications:  1)Must be a resident of the 50 United States, […]

The Tylenol scholarship program helps students who are pursuing careers in the healthcare, life sciences, or related fields, manage the rising costs of education.

The program will award $250,000 in scholarships based on leadership qualities and academic performance, including ten $10,000 and thirty $5,000 grants.

Qualifications: 

1)Must be a resident of the 50 United States, Puerto Rico, or the District of Columbia.

2)Must have completed at least one year of undergraduate or graduate course of study in the Spring of 2009 at an accredited two or four year college, university or vocational - technical school.

3)Must provide proof of enrollment to a public health/health education, medical school, nursing and/or pharmacy degree program.

4)Must have one or more years of school remaining.

5)Past winners are not eligible to apply or win for the 2009/2010 year.

**Employees of McNeil Consumer and Specialty Pharmaceuticals, ISTS, Inc., their affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies and the families of each are not eligible.

http://www.tylenol.com/page.jhtml?id=tylenol/news/subptyschol.inc

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Your in, your out. Sorry our college ran out of money…

June 10, 2009
College in Need Closes a Door to Needy Students By JONATHAN D. GLATER June 10, 2009 PORTLAND, Ore. — The admissions team at Reed College, known for its free-spirited students, learned in March that the prospective freshman class it had so carefully composed after weeks of reviewing essays, scores and recommendations was unworkable. Money was […]

College in Need Closes a Door to Needy Students

By JONATHAN D. GLATER June 10, 2009

PORTLAND, Ore. — The admissions team at Reed College, known for its free-spirited students, learned in March that the prospective freshman class it had so carefully composed after weeks of reviewing essays, scores and recommendations was unworkable.

Money was the problem. Too many of the students needed financial aid, and the college did not have enough. So the director of financial aid gave the team another task: drop more than 100 needy students before sending out acceptances, and substitute those who could pay full freight.

The whole idea of excluding a student simply because of money clashed with the college’s ideals, Leslie Limper, the aid director, acknowledged. “None of us are very happy,” she said, adding that Reed did not strike anyone from its list last year and that never before had it needed to weed out so many worthy students. “Sometimes I wonder why I’m still doing this.”

That decision was one of several agonizing ones for this small private college, celebrated for its combination of academic rigor and a laid-back approach to education that once attracted Steven P. Jobs, the chief executive of Apple, to study on its leafy campus minutes from downtown.

With their endowments ravaged by the financial markets and more students clamoring for assistance, private colleges like Reed are making numerous changes this year in staff, students, tuition and classes that they hope will tide them over without harming their reputations or their educational goals.

Reed and others have admitted more students to bolster revenue with larger classes. Many are cutting costs by freezing or reducing salaries, suspending hiring and postponing building maintenance and construction. And the cost of attendance is rising; in Reed’s case, by 3.8 percent, to nearly $50,000 a year for its 1,300 students. (that’s an amazing $65,000,000.00 Million Dollars!)

But Reed has put off drastic measures like spending more of its endowment, closing some departments or selling some real estate near campus. Instead, college officials are counting on the economy to turn around quickly, as became apparent when they allowed a New York Times reporter to sit in on budget discussions this spring.

So for now, the changes are modest and nearly invisible to students. The impact is mostly in the composition of the student body over the next four years.

Reed has for now cast aside its hopes of accepting students based purely on merit, without regard to wealth, and still meeting their financial need. Only the nation’s richest colleges do that. What’s more, when Reed turned to its waiting list this year, it tapped only students who could pay their way.

This year, the financial aid office put together its own, separate wait list for students whose circumstances had changed or whose financial requests were incomplete. Though Reed had pruned its admissions list for financial reasons before, it always found a way to help the few students with unexpected setbacks. This year, dozens of requests came in. Only a few got extra.

Hannah C. Moser, 17, needed financial help; her father is a paramedic, her mother is ill and her parents are divorcing. Thrilled with the small classes and quirky students, she applied to Reed last fall and was ecstatic when she learned she was admitted — through an informal announcement that came in haikus by e-mail.

But she said she qualified for only $14,000 in aid, far less than any other college offered. She later discovered that she had not sent in a required form. She was placed on the aid wait list, to no avail. This fall, she will enroll at Willamette University in Salem, Ore., not too far from her hometown, Sedro-Woolley, Wash.

“I’ve actually struggled pretty bad with not being able to go to Reed, just because it was my reach school and everything about it was perfect and I impossibly got in,” said Ms. Moser, an aspiring writer. “And then I couldn’t go.”

The board members have approved increases in tuition and fees that bring the total cost of a year at Reed to $49,950. The college will have nearly 400 new first-year and transfer students in the fall, up from 355 last year.

Reed has increased its financial aid budget by 7.8 percent. It aims to use part of the $200 million it hopes to raise in a capital campaign, announced this spring, for financial aid in future years.

The college has cut 5 percent of its spending except on personnel. It has avoided layoffs — unlike some other institutions — though it is not filling vacancies.

Like many colleges, Reed is betting on a quick recovery of the economy and the financial markets to fuel endowment growth of 10 percent annually — including investment returns and gifts — beginning next year.

Asked by a board member what would happen if those assumptions did not pan out, the college’s treasurer, Edwin O. McFarlane, was blunt: “We’ll have to revisit the whole ballgame.”

J.D.’s Comments: Will Obama save us? Or do we need to just grab the bull by the horns and take care of ourselves? I ask all my clients what is the easiest way to get free money for college? Get good grades and test great on the standardized tests (SAT/ACT)! The next order of business is to research (or hire a professional to research) the HGP the historical giving pattern of the college and discover if the college is typically generous or not AND does the college have money to give out? From this important step then and only then can we learn what the true cost of attendance is for your particular family and your child so that we can develop a college financial plan to cover these costs.

Original article appears in NY Times here

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Graduation rates may be tied to state and federal funding

June 9, 2009
This means that colleges that have higher graduation rates would have more money to hand out. States consider basing college funding on graduation rates States fund public colleges primarily based on how many students are enrolled. But a number of legislatures are considering policies that would link funding to whether students graduate. Lawmakers in Ohio […]

This means that colleges that have higher graduation rates would have more money to hand out.

States consider basing college funding on graduation rates

States fund public colleges primarily based on how many students are enrolled. But a number of legislatures are considering policies that would link funding to whether students graduate.

Lawmakers in Ohio appear likely to adopt a plan, introduced this year, that would base 100% of higher education spending on course and degree completion. Indiana is considering a similar but more modest proposal. And in Louisiana, the governor and Legislature have called for plans that tie 25% of higher education funding to student success.

President Obama wants the USA to lead the world in college graduates by 2020 and has proposed $2.5 billion over five years to states that seek to boost college completion rates for low-income students.

J.D.'s comments: Makes sense (or cents) to me, base it on results. Maybe we should do the same with every political office... What do you think?

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What is your student thinking?

June 5, 2009
THE question every future college student must ask is... (give it a second or two for the embeded video to load) Get more great tips LIVE and in-person at a Free No-Holds-Barred, Take No Prisoners Guide to Everything College workshop. Click the Free workshop RSVP button on the right side of this page. *boys and girls please […]

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

(give it a second or two for the embeded video to load)

Get more great tips LIVE and in-person at a Free No-Holds-Barred, Take No Prisoners Guide to Everything College workshop. Click the Free workshop RSVP button on the right side of this page.

*boys and girls please do not attempt to drive and record a video of yourself, profesional driver on closed course... (not really, at least there wasn't a lot of traffic...)
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College offers more aid second time around

May 25, 2009
When Sean Galligan, a senior at Weymouth High School, received his financial aid package from Worcester Polytechnic Institute this spring, he knew right away that he had to apply for more money. Galligan's college savings took a hit when the stock market plunged, and so instead of having a good portion of tuition costs set […]

When Sean Galligan, a senior at Weymouth High School, received his financial aid package from Worcester Polytechnic Institute this spring, he knew right away that he had to apply for more money.

Galligan's college savings took a hit when the stock market plunged, and so instead of having a good portion of tuition costs set aside, Galligan needed extra financial aid.

"Money has been hard to come by and I felt I wanted a little more help going into my freshman year," Galligan said.

After re-evaluating his situation, WPI added a $3,700 scholarship to Galligan's package.

The number of college students seeking additional aid at both private and public institutions is growing rapidly in the face of family layoffs, battered savings accounts and bankruptcies brought on by the deep recession.

"This is going to be a year like none other that we've ever seen," said Clantha McCurdy, vice chancellor at the Massachusetts Office of Student Financial Assistance.

"That's what you get when there's challenging financial times," McCurdy said. "A lot of parents have lost their jobs."

McCurdy said there is no statewide count on re-evaluation applications - requests by students seeking another run at financial aid. But she said she has no doubt financial aid offices are seeing "huge increases" in requests. Financial counselors at the University of Massachusetts-Boston are encountering two petitions per day, up from two per month last year.

Judy Keyes, director of financial aid at UMass-Boston, sent an e-mail this spring telling students there is additional aid available. The e-mail encouraged students facing financial hardship to send the school a letter describing the circumstances, such as unemployment, reduced work hours and or a decreased credit rating.

"We're always concerned about those that might leave without pursuing other options," Keyes said.

Bridgewater State College saw its requests climb to 86 compared to 56 at this point last year, a 65 percent increase. Though re-evaluations involve only a small portion of the 6,000 Bridgewater students receiving help this year, financial aid director Janet Gumbris said the increase is atypical.

One reason for the spike in financial aid re-evaluations may be unemployment. Since September, more than 75,000 Massachusetts workers have lost their jobs, according to the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. The state's 7.8 percent unemployment rate - representing 265,900 people -- is at its highest level since 1993.

McCurdy said her financial aid office is receiving four times the number of calls than previous years. She encourages her staff to spend extra time with parents to explain their options, such as reapplying for more state grants.

Reggie Harge, a program manager at the TERI College Planning Center in Boston, said he's heard more questions about financial aid re-evaluations this year than any time in his 13 years at the Education Resources Institute, a national organization that serves 8,000 Massachusetts students annually at its offices in Boston and Brockton.

"The economy is doing us a favor in one sense, in that it's bringing more clients to us," Harge said. "But it's unfortunate the economy is having that kind of impact on students. It breaks our heart to hear these stories."

Those stories include an older student who came to the center for help after losing his $40,000-a-year job. The man's financial aid award letter included the previous year's income, but he could not afford classes with what the school was offering. Harge told him to call the college right away and explain what happened.

"It's up to the student to be proactive and tell the school 'Here's my situation,"' Harge said.

This year the federal financial aid form includes a question about displaced workers. The question has helped keep colleges informed about hardships, Harge said.

But if a student's financial situation changes after they submit the form, they need to send a letter or e-mail to the school. The school will then ask for more detailed information, such as unemployment checks or court bankruptcy papers.

Students will then be informed of the college's ability to provide more financial aid, usually during the summer, but possibly into the fall as money is freed up when other students who have received aid decide not to attend.

Private colleges have also experienced a spike in re-evaluation requests, though not as drastic as those at public schools. Western New England College spokesman David Stawasz said his institution has seen a big increase from incoming freshman, though the college has yet to compare this year to last because of its rolling admissions process.

"Financial aid forms rely on income for the past year," Stawasz said. "We have seen an increase in the number of people who have experienced a change in employment - losing a job, working fewer hours, etc. - from the previous year, sometimes even since the financial aid form was filed."

Stonehill College, which has experienced an overall 20 percent increase in financial aid requests from incoming freshmen, has also seen a 10 percent hike in the number of requests for re-evaluation compared to fall 2008.

"I believe that while the economy made people more cautious and (they) are therefore asking for additional funding, it was not because they had already lost their jobs," said Eileen O'Leary, Stonehill's director of financial aid.

Only 29 of 3,102 financial aid applicants at Stonehill cited job loss as a reason for seeking more money.

Private schools are seeing smaller percentage increases in such re-evaluation requests because overall they give more aid to students based on their higher tuition costs, said Richard Doherty, president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts.

"Plus most of our schools are residential," Doherty said, "so the conversation between counselors and students is more straightforward, it's a more personal experience."

J.D. comments: Discovering the historical giving pattern (how much aid the school gives out on averge) of each college your child is applying to is critical in developing a financial plan so that you don't have to scramble at the last minute or take on excessive student loans. AND learn the 3 or 4 keys to position yourself to qualify for as much aid as you can.

original link

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