Keep those grades up!

9 Dec

Fight off senioritis!

Fight off senioritis!

About now you are probably getting those wonderful acceptance letters or electronic notices that start “Congratulations!”

There’s no better feeling than knowing that at least ONE college wants you, right?

However, after you’ve gotten a few of these and know you’ll be somewhere on a college campus next fall, the tendency to slip into Senioritis is a huge problem.

What many seniors do not realize is that acceptance they have received is a CONDITIONAL acceptance. You are still expected to achieve at the same level you have been for the other three years of your high school existence. It is possible that a college could revoke your acceptance. So, yes, Virginia, you still need to STUDY and get good grades.

Here are a few motivational strategies:

  • Think of this new semester as the beginning of school. Get organized all over again. Reorganize your notebooks. Get a new stash of 3×5 cards and notebook paper and pens/pencils. 
  • Buy a new calendar if you haven’t yet. Keep tracking important deadlines for your colleges and for scholarships, senior year activities, and AP and other tests.
  • If you haven’t already, organize a study group to prepare for those challenging spring exams, such as the Advanced Placement tests, set for the first two full weeks of May.
  • Check your online college portals DAILY! Announcements will most likely be delivered to you there regarding deadlines and financial aid.
  • As you and your family are able, visit any college campuses to which you have been accepted but have not yet visited. Schedule tour appointments. Some colleges also have spring visitation programs that are very reasonable and very worthwhile. (See my earlier blog about how to make the most of college visits.)Congratulations on your acceptances!

    Remember:

    Keep studying to keep all your options open!

Appealing financial aid offers

2 Dec

uc-berkeley-sproul-hall-sproul-plaza-occupy-uc-berkeley-7d9994-wingsdomain-art-and-photographySome of you may already be getting financial aid offers from the colleges to which you have applied — especially if you did your FAFSA early.

However, some of you may be disappointed with the offers.

Please know you can still plead your case with the financial aid office at those colleges. Do this with a letter addressed to “Financial Aid Officer” and include information that could improve your offer:

  • Information about a parent losing a job or being cut back to part-time.
  • Loss of a job you have had.
  • Information about high and unexpected expenses for situations your family has recently experienced, such as medical care or a car accident.
  • Death of a supporting parent or other close family member — thus creating loss of income or increased expenses.
  • Separation of your parents — so that you now only need report income for the parent with whom you are living (or who provides the greater amount of support).

It is helpful if the school counselor or administrator can write a letter authenticating your case.

Also, the letter may receive quicker attention if the school faxes your letter to the financial aid department(s).

Please don’t delay on this. Some money pots — such as work study — are limited, and colleges can only offer what’s available.

Check into state grant (free!) money

22 Nov

questions_answers_graphic_faid_ay_noticeMany states have grant programs that assist students with college expenses. Grants are money gifts that do not need to be paid back. In California a student who can demonstrate financial need can receive the following: University of California: $12,240; California State University, $5,472; eligible private colleges, $9,084). If you do not live in California, do a search on college grant money in your state by Googling “your state name + financial aid” (example: “Oregon + financial aid).

In California you must do two things to be considered for a Cal Grant, and requirements are similar in other states:

  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) between Oct. 1 and Mar. 2 (www.fafsa,ed.gov) — listing the schools for a Cal Grant FIRST.
  • Make sure your high school has submitted your Cal Grant GPA verification. Verify this with your high school counselor.

The California Student Aid Commission encourages all students to apply for a Cal Grant, even if they think their parents make too much money (for income/asset limits, see http://www.csac.ca.gov/facts/2013-14_income_ceilings_new_apps_renewing_recips.pdf). It is possible that a family’s income picture can drastically change overnight — so it’s good to have the paperwork requirements in place if that happens.

See your counselor today for more information!