Archive | December, 2012

Advantages of Private Colleges

17 Dec


Biola University in southern California has a great new library.

Biola University in southern California has a great new library.

While the window of application opportunity may be closing for some public universities, most private universities are still accepting applications. There are many advantages to attending a private college:

  • Smaller class size
  • Opportunity to get to know your professors better
  • Better chance of getting the classes you need
  • Greater likelihood of being able to design a major of your own
  • Higher chance of graduating in four years — in fact, some four-year private universities guarantee this
  • And even though the tuition costs are significantly higher than those of public universities, often the private colleges have huge endowments from their alumni, so that you can get large scholarships and university grants. Because you can most likely graduate in four years (if you don’t mess around!), the overall cost may be the same as that for a four-year college.

    The oldest of our four children attended Biola University in southern California. There she got a leadership scholarship, was able to live in the form for as many years as she wanted, made wonderful friends, got a great job as an assistant to the English department’s dean, and received an excellent recommendation that got her a job teaching immediately after graduation. Our out-of-pocket was no higher than that for our other three children who attended public universities.

    Give private colleges a chance! Apply and see how the financial aid might play out.

    Any good news out there? Where have you been accepted to college thus far?

How to Access a State Grant for College

10 Dec

Many 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: $12,192; California State University, $5,472; eligible private colleges, $9,708). If you do not live in California, do a search on college grant money in your state by Googling “your state name + college aid” (example: “Oregon + college 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 Jan. 1 and Mar. 2 (www.fafsa, — listing the schools for a Cal Grant first.
  • Submit a verified Cal Grant GPA verification. This form is SIMPLE — name, address, Social Security number, etc. No financial information is related on this form, which can be completed in a couple minutes.

To submit the Cal Grant GPA verification, download the form from or The form needs to be verified by your high school official (typically the counselor). The form is then mailed, or if the school is participating in online verification, then submitted online by the school official by Mar. 2.

The California Student Aid Commission encourages all students to apply for a Cal Grant, even if they think their parents make too much money (see¬† to see current asset limits). 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!



How to Get Financial Aid

3 Dec

Every year I give a financial aid workshop for my school’s seniors and their parents (6:30 p.m., Tues., Dec. 1, Room 100, Loyalton High School, Loyalton, CA). I explain the steps they must take so as to access federal and state financial aid, as well as additional college aid and scholarships.

It’s not that hard, but students and parents must exercise diligence. Make sure you put deadlines on your calendar and stick to them religiously . . . in fact, it’s best if you submit all documents at the earliest possible time, so that you also receive financial aid offers early from colleges to which you have applied. Do NOT assume that you make too much money to receive aid. Do the paperwork — and see what opportunities are made available to you.

1. FAFSA: Submit a complete Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which will request information about your income for 2015, as well as business and liquid assets (cash, savings, etc.). Do this online at starting Jan. 1 and complete it by Mar. 2 (for California students — other states have different deadlines, which you can access on the FAFSA website). Complete the 2015-16 FAFSA for your 2015-16 college year. It will not be available until Jan. 1.

2. Cal Grant: Your high school counselor will complete the Cal Grant GPA Verification online; make sure that the Social Security number that your counselor has is correct, so that information is correctly reported to you and colleges. If you do not live in California, find out from your counselor if your state offers grants and follow that process.

3. Colleges: Go to the financial aid website for the colleges to which you applied and complete any additional financial aid or scholarship applications those schools may require. Colleges also offer scholarships and grants but may have their own particular process.

4. CSS Profile: Some colleges require a CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE instead of or in addition to the FAFSA. Find this out on the colleges’ financial aid pages. Register at There is a fee for this application done through College Board, which is often due earlier than the FAFSA.

5. Financial need: You will need to demonstrate financial need for grants and the lowest interest loans but not for other loans and some scholarships.

6. Requirements: You will need to demonstrate proof of the following:

– High school diploma

– U.S. citizenship (some states including California are providing aid to permanent residents and other eligible noncitizens — application is at

– State residency (for most state aid)

– Enrollment in an eligible degree or certificate program

– Social Security number (

– Satisfactory progress in your college coursework

– For males only: Registration with the U.S. Selective Service at age 18 or aid will be withheld (

Set aside time now to gather your income information so that you can complete the above — and file it at the earliest opportunity.