Example - College Ed Xpress monthly e-newsletter.
Do you have children that are college-bound high school juniors or seniors?
Date: April, 2015
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!
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.
Finally, now your student is coming to you for help. Ask questions like:
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.
Like-able qualities that a college or university should have:
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?).
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...
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.
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.
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:
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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