Example - College Ed Xpress monthly e-newsletter.

Do you have children that are college-bound high school juniors or seniors?

If so, you’ll want to subscribe to the highly-acclaimed, monthly e-newsletter: College Ed Xpress

Here is why:

Each month College Ed Xpress delivers relevant, actionable and concise information, specifically for parents of high school seniors and juniors.

Unfortunately, virtually all college literature on the topics of college admissions and financial aid are targeted to the student; leaving the parents - who generally paying most of the bills - stumbling in the dark.

College Ed Xpress is perfect for families whether they are just beginning or are in the midst of the complex, confusing, stress-inducing and often-times bizarre college admissions and financial aid process.

College Ed Xpress won’t overwhelm you with irrelevant information. it is the ONLY college admissions and financial aid e-newsletter that delivers what you need to know, in the form of actionable information, when you need to know it - not too soon and not to late!


HIGHLIGHTS:

Date: April, 2015

Dear Parent,

"How does the government/college expect me to pay for this?" I hear this question almost hourly now.

The truth is this: They don't care if you can't afford it. Oh, they may TELL you they care but if you ignore what they say and watch what they do, you will know this is a patent falsehood.

Here are the REAL reasons college is so expensive:

As long as parents are willing to pay, colleges will increase the price.

As long as the government will lend you and your student money, colleges will increase the price.

 

As long as public universities budgets go up, legislators will require parents to pay a larger portion of ever increasing tuition.

As long as colleges continue to increase administrative staff you will pay more. This is one of the primary drivers of rising tuition at colleges and universities over the last 25 years. In this time, Penn State University doubled its administrative staff but only added a handful of instructors. Penn State is not unique in this respect.

Since 1987, universities have also started or expanded departments devoted to marketing, diversity, disability, sustainability, security, environmental health, recruiting, technology, and fundraising, and added new majors and graduate and athletics programs, satellite campuses, and conference centers.

As long as colleges try and keep up with the Jones' with their dormitory "suites" and spas and spend tens of millions on amenities so your student can live better at college than you do at home, the price will increase. Heck, with all the luxuries found on many college campuses, you wonder why anyone would ever want to leave. Perhaps that explains one of the reasons it takes students five and six years to graduate...

As you have no doubt surmised, nothing is going to be done today about the price of college. But you can control how much you spend and how you will pay the bill.

Don't vaporize your retirement before you get there. An administrator from Boston College told parents of prospective students at a recent meeting that saving for retirement was considered discretionary income and they should expect to stop funding their retirement while their kids are in college!

 

SENIORS: What To Do if You Need More Money

You can always appeal a financial aid award. Colleges are required by law to listen to your request. If something wasn't revealed on your financial aid forms that can show you have a special circumstance and need more money, then by all means, visit the financial aid office or write a letter of appeal. However, before you do, first know where you stand.

This includes knowing your Expected Family Contribution (EFC); whether your student's test scores are in the top 20-25% of last year's freshman class; and that school's financial aid history, resources, and financial aid policies.

Even if your student earned high ACT/SAT scores, that isn't always enough to garner more free money. They would have to have taken very challenging classes and received better-than-average grades. Some awards are given to students who had all A's through high school, or had a combination of high test scores and good grades, or who were very active in the community. So knowing what the college offers to what kind of students is the first step to understanding what a fair award for your student actually is.

Even if your student's aid offer was typical, you may still have a basis for a financial aid appeal.

 

Now They Need You

Finally, now your student is coming to you for help. Ask questions like:

  • How did she feel when she was on campus at each college visited?
  • Which colleges best match his list of must-haves?
  • At which colleges can he imagine himself successful and happy?

Help her complete the paperwork to accept a college's offer of admittance. Once she has decided which college to attend, you will mail a tuition deposit and submit other required paperwork.

As an Aside

Love-at-first-sight happens occasionally. If your student wants to enroll at a college because he fell in love with it immediately, or because it feels like home, help him understand that there are reasons more substantial than emotion in selecting a college. It's enough to like it first; love can come later.

Like-able qualities that a college or university should have:

  1. Students who your student can relate to
  2. An academic program that is challenging and taught in a way that he learns best and fits his learning style
  3. Accessible professors and instructors
  4. Stuff to do on weekends - other than partying and drinking
  5. Support services that work
  6. Edible food (although in two months most of it will not be very appealing)
  7. Enthusiastic, supportive and friendly administrators
  8. An environment that promotes learning
  9. Ease of going back and forth from home: planes, trains, buses, and automobiles
  10. Transportation to and from and around the area

If these qualities exist at the college he loves, then, "Louie, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship." (You have seen "Casablanca," haven't you?).

The Waiting Game

Taking an offer of admission from the wait list is usually going to be very expensive. Not only will financial aid be limited, there wont' be much if any in future years.

Now, having said that, there are a few things the stubborn student can do to improve his odds of getting accepted:

 

  • Emphasize recent accomplishments and interests. They should be persistent, not annoying.
     
  • They can try to find out the committee's concerns with the application. Perhaps something was missed or misinterpreted.
     
  • Address any weaknesses in their application in a letter.
     
  • Revisit the campus and tell admissions in a letter why this is the school for him or her.
     
  • Above all, avoid gimmicks like sending cookies, iPhones, or Omaha Steaks.
     

But is all of this really worth it? Most students haven't done much investigating into the colleges they would love to go to. Before going through the wait list game does your student know...

  • What kinds of students really shine there?
     
  • What the students are interested in?
     
  • What the culture of the school is?
     
  • How late do students study on a Fri/Sat night?
     
  • What do they do on weekends?
     
  • How many nights do the students party? Once, twice, every night?
     
  • Do you need lots of money to have a good time?
     
  • What do the study abroad options look like?
     
  • How good is the career center at helping students? Internships?
     
  • How active and helpful is the Alum association?
     
  • What is the administration like? Are they friendly? Helpful? Glad to take your call or unannounced visit?
     
  • Will the professors be accessible to undergraduates?
     
  • Are there opportunities for undergraduate research?
     

All of this should be known before the student even sends in their application but we know most students won't do it. However, knowing some of the above may influence your student to "move on" from colleges that wait-listed them.

The good news is that most students are very happy with where they go to college. Disappointment doesn't last long and this fact is supported objectively by many different sources.

Juniors

If your student is serious about college, this is what you should expect to have done: begun writing an activity resume or 'brag sheet'; asked their core teachers for letters of recommendation; taken their standardized tests seriously by prepping for them; and scheduled the most rigorous courses they can handle their senior year. In addition, they can step up their commitment for an activity they have already shown real interest in. Some scholarships are based not just on grades and test scores alone but on involvement in the community or demonstrated leadership or personal growth. Contact me to generate a scholarship report that will show all the requirements for merit-based scholarships that your student may already qualify for at schools of interets.

Why Pay Retail When You Can Get it Wholesale?

Allow me to be brutally honest (unlike the first few paragraphs?) -  Remember the cartoon at the top of this newsletter? Well, if you will start thinking like a consumer of higher education, rather than like the sucker colleges hope you to be, you're going to have to leave the pack of lemmings behind to jump into a pile of debt and get it wholesale. If you think I'm being harsh or unfair, then I urge you to learn the methods that college and university enrollment managers use! Trust me -- you are no match for them unless you have access to legitimate expertise.

If you don't, you'll join the parade of parents who complain that their student was cheated out of money or a seat by being deferred, gap year'd, wait-listed or outright rejected. Do what everyone else does and you will get what everyone else gets. The money gets thin when passed out to a crowd. Here is what most people do:

  • Count on the guidance counselor for help.
     
  • Attend a financial aid night looking for answers to make a difference in the amount of money you will pay.
     
  • Visit web sites without knowing what to look for.
     
  • Listen to the college carnival (fairs) barkers.
     
  • Go on a college tour during summer and waste time at the info sessions.
     
  • Read the college's junk mail.
     
  • Wait until the last minute to do everything.
     
  • Send in your apps without learning first if you should let the college know you're interested.
     
  • Mess up your financial aid forms. This can be very, very costly.
     
  • Don't be like other parents unless you want the same results!

Many colleges practice what is known as "front loading." This is giving a great financial aid package to an incoming freshman, then have it look like it was in a street-fight 12 months later. Financial aid officers often reserve their best offers for the latest crop of prospective students, making packages stingier for others.

Caution: Here's a clue to whether a college may be jilting sophomores: check its freshmen retention rate. Nationally, the freshmen retention rate is 66 percent, according to ACT, Inc., the testing service. You can find retention rates at the federal College Navigator site. If a four-year college's retention rate is much lower than 66 percent, don't count on a full continuation of aid.

Insider Tip: Chris Hooker-Haring, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa., suggests parents of prospective freshmen ask the admissions or financial aid officer: "If my family's financial circumstances remain the same and my student is a student in good standing, can I count on the integrity of the aid package for four years?"

Until next month...

P.S. If you find this newsletter helpful to you please share it with other parents like yourself!


 

 

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