What is a financial aid appeal?
If you receive a financial aid offer that does not cover your cost of tuition, you may be eligible to file a financial aid appeal for an improved award. However, adjusting your financial aid is a complicated process based on the validity and severity of your need. Read more...
In a recent New York Times article, David Leonhardt explained current SAT analysis that said high-performing, low-income students are choosing not to apply for admission to the country’s most prestigious colleges. Only 34 percent of high-achieving high school seniors in the bottom-fourth of income distribution attended any one of the country’s 238 most selective prestigious colleges, compared to 78 percent of the highest income students. This is a tragedy.
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The most unfortunate part of this study study is that it shows these top students are not using the strategy of applying to college - applying to a "safety" school, a "match" school and at least one "reach or stretch" schools. Because of this, these bright students end up aiming low and miss out on an opportunity to attend more selective or prestigious college or university.
The result of not aiming high enough is that more than half of these students are attending a school that is not challenging enough, or the right fit. These bright minds may have a harder time thriving in college, and may not make the most of their potential.
All students should have access to the best education possible, and I find it troubling that students are not aware of the opportunities at these schools. Many students are not aware of the financial aid options offered by top universities, like Harvard. Though these colleges are some of the most expensive, they also offer the most competitive financial aid packages.
Adjusting Your Strategy for Applying to College
Many students think they can’t afford a 'fancy' college. However, many of these colleges' admissions are "need blind," which means they will accept a student regardless of a student’s ability to pay. In many cases, these colleges will fill the gap between the tuition costs and what the family can afford with grants or other financial aid.
We know on StudentAdvisor.com that one of the top reasons someone chooses a specific college is because they have a friend who attends that school. Students go to colleges that they know about, and these are often the ones close to home. Many of these students have never met anyone who has attended one of the most selective colleges, especially the smaller or less popular colleges.
The highest-performing low-income students are applying to college closer to home, including community colleges and four-year state colleges. These colleges often have fewer resources and lower graduation rates than the more prestigious schools.
Instead of assuming that you can't get in or the school is too far away, or too expensive, it is important to be fearless with your college application strategy.
3 Things students need to consider when applying to college:
- Applying to at least one "safety school" - a school where you have a very high chance of being accepted.
- Applying to a least one "target school", where you can both get in, and succeed.
- Applying to a "stretch, or reach", school – a school that may be far away or exclusive, but could award you more opportunities, and may have more generous financial aid packages.
In college applications, it's important to be responsible, but it's also important to dream big. Apply to at least one school that is out of your comfort zone. You will never know if you don’t apply.
Finding Out More
We live in the age of information – search/research online. Think about looking for a college as seriously as finding a job. Many websites and magazines discuss some of the best schools in the country. Students should take this information seriously and should be considering applying to these colleges.
If students are lost on where to start, StudentAdvisor.com is one of the best places to find accurate and anecdotal information about colleges. Many students don’t apply to certain colleges because they just don’t know that they exist. By using StudentAdvisor, students can determine the qualities they are looking for through college match, and read actual student reviews, and learn more about the financial aid that these colleges provide. They can also compare colleges to one another, and get in touch with admissions advisors from colleges they are most interested in. Applying to college should be about more than just location - it should be about fit.
The brightest minds are not just found in the more affluent suburbs. We need to utilize all the talent the country has to offer.
Writing a scholarship essay was the last thing I wanted to think about throughout my education, especially my senior year in high school. In the midst of SATs, ACTs and college applications, writing another essay outside of school was not high on my to-do list. I never even considered looking for scholarships while in college. Five years later, I wish I had.
The truth is, I was daunted by the task of applying for scholarships. I remember how hectic it was and how much stress I felt over choosing the right college, the right major, the right career. I didn’t have time to seek out scholarships. I didn’t know where to start, or how to start looking. I also thought – wrongly – that I wouldn’t have a good chance of getting one anyway. I wasn’t an athlete, or a woman in engineering. I wasn’t involved in my town government.
Now, there’s an app for that. Meet Scholarship Advisor. (and download it here!)
Scholarship Advisor is an app that I wish I had the capability of using in those stressed-out high school days. It’s the answer to everything I didn’t have time for or was too overwhelmed to do. Thousands of scholarships are sitting, waiting, right at your fingertips. They are even categorized into lists for fast and easy browsing, making it simple to find a scholarship that you’re qualified for.
If you’re like me, you need to immediately write down your tasks and to-do lists as they come up, or the information will get lost in your ever-buzzing mind. My favorite feature of Scholarship Advisor is the ability to add scholarship deadlines right to your personal calendar with one simple tap. Scholarship Advisor takes the stress, the guesswork, the frustration out of searching for scholarships – how could I apply when I didn’t know what was out there? Scholarship Advisor is the answer, boasting an extensive database of regularly updated scholarships.
Today, graduating college without debt is almost unheard of. Every year, I watched my college tuition increase and my student loans get larger. The fact is, college is incredibly expensive, and the cost of tuition continues to rise. According to a new report by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, tuition at public colleges and universities reached an all-time high last year. The average cost of tuition rose by 8.3% (via CNNMoney).
Like many of my peers, I graduated from a four-year university with great grades and a robust resume, yet a tough job market made it difficult to find full-time work. A struggling economy has meant high unemployment rates for recent college graduates, yet in 2012, the average borrower owed over $27,000 in student loans (according to study by FICO, via Forbes).
Instead of graduating with the pressure of paying back student loans (in a timely manner, of course, or risking a bad credit score), I wish I could tell my high school self to just push a little bit harder – take the time to write a few more essays. The effort then would have helped me out now. Now, with Scholarship Advisor, half of the work is done already.
A scholarship is an award, a gift, something that doesn’t need to be paid back. Best of all, it’s free! The only cost on the student’s end is time – and it’s not lost. It’s an investment in your own future. Make it even easier by using Scholarship Advisor, free for download from iTunes.
FAFSA is on the lips of students (and parents) who want to pursue higher education. As the FAFSA (or Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the best way you can get a financial aid package. Now that we’ve past college and university application deadlines, it's time to start applying for financial aid to help fund your education. Even if you don’t think you are qualified you must fill out the FAFSA – many colleges use it as a baseline for all forms of scholarships and financial aid. Follow these simple tips and they will help you avoid some of the most common FAFSA mistakes. Read more...
By Purvi S. Mody
While students are working on their essays and applications, parents are often running the numbers to figure out how to pay for college. Many families are worried that applying for and needing money may actually negative impact their children’s college choices. The answer to many parents' questions is a resounding: "maybe." But before you call the bank to find out how to take a second mortgage on the house, let me explain about financial aid. Read more...
Student loans has become an almost-inevitable part of the college process. However, shopping for student loans is much different than shopping for extra-long bedsheets or mini-fridges. Kevin Walker of SimpleTuition.com offers six smart tips for taking out student loans. Read more...
As seniors send in deposits to their schools of choice, there's still something that they're waiting on: financial aid decisions. Often, your full financial package isn't confirmed until June, and students and parents can be waiting on edge - especially if they have confusing questions about stepparents, loans, and special financial circumstances.
StudentAdvisor talked to Jane Jordan, Associate Director of the Northern Illinois University Financial Aid Office. Jane gives some advice for students and families concerned about college costs. At Northern Illinois University, students have many specific questions about their financial aid situations. In our conversation, Jane breaks down some of the most frequently asked financial aid questions for students of Northern Illinois University and all colleges. Read more...
It's tax season in the US, and for many college students doing taxes, it can be an absolutely nerve wrecking experience. Whether you're making bank or just enough for ramen, knowing how to do your taxes properly in college will save you from a lot of potential headaches in the future. Getting audited is not fun!
Do you have a sizeable savings account? A part-time job? A paid internship? A business you run out of your dorm room? Then it's crucial to understand what parts of your income are taxable. After all, those tax returns play a huge role in determining your eligibility for financial aid! Read more..
Photo: David Reber's Hammer Photography
Did you open your financial aid award letter and feel brutally disappointed? For some, a financial aid appeal may be the best way to get more money for college.
What if something happened to your financial situation since filling out the FAFSA in the Fall? Maybe your family had to deal with rebuilding their home after a natural disaster. Maybe your parent got laid off from their job or had steep medical bills to pay.
These set backs in life happen, however, when making a financial aid appeal it's important to understand how to tactfully approach the financial aid office. That's why StudentAdvisor asked financial aid experts to tell us the do's and don'ts of making a financial aid appeal. Read more...
You've got your big envelope! You've been accepted to your choice school - awesome!
Now comes the the next big step: figuring out your financial aid package. It's important to understand the responsibilities of accepting different types of financial aid such as grants, loans, work-study, and scholarships. However, those financial aid award letters can be downright confusing.
Need a little help figuring out what exactly your letter says? Verified Advisor and financial aid consultant, Justin Munio, gives some insight on what your financial aid award is. Read more...
Photo: Christopher S. Penn