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Free money for college

1 Nov

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 demonstrated financial need according to the guidelines is receiving the following this school year:

  • University of California: $12,630
  • 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 like this: “your state name + financial aid.” For 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, http://www.csac.ca.gov/facts/2018-19_income_and_asset_ceilings.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!

 

Hey, parents! I’m VERY excited that this wonderful gift book for grads will be available this coming spring from Worthy Publishing–just in time for your grad and their friends. More info on ordering will be coming soon! 

It’s time to file your FAFSA

4 Oct

Starting Oct. 1 students and their parents have been able to file their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the U.S. government vehicle for determining how much and the various kinds of financial aid that can be offered, based on financial need–mostly grants (free money), work study (work at a job, usually on campus–nontaxable), and student and parent loans (must be repaid).

The first step in this process is to obtain the Federal Student Aid (FSA) I.D. for both the student who will be attending college in Fall 2018 and the parent(s).The I.D. is needed for both the student and parent to sign the FAFSA electronically. This FSA I.D. is secure because students and their parents will provide a personalized username, password and FIVE security questions of their own design.

Because the process takes some time, financial aid officers at colleges are emphasizing the importance of getting the FSA I.D. for both student and parent(s) done in ADVANCE.

Go to www.fafsa.ed.gov to get the FSA I.D. taken care of and to do the FAFSA, for which you will need your 2016 income information as well as current info of assets.

NOTE: The California deadline for the FAFSA is March 2 for four-year college students (later for others–but keep the first-come-first-served idea in mind!). The FAFSA website indicates each state’s deadline for filing.

NOTE FOR ATHLETES: Colleges will want you to do the FAFSA, so that they see you are being proactive about accessing all kinds of financial aid–not just the sports scholarship.

Hey, reader! I’m super-excited that my book 50 Life Lessons for Grads will be available April 2018 from the good folks at Worthy Publishing. I would love it if you would keep it in mind as you shop for those grad presents for family and friends.

Take advantage of college fairs

21 Sep

 

The Campanile is a familiar landmark at UC Berkeley–where my husband Craig, our daughter Bethany, and I all got our undergrad degrees.

You can get a lot of bang for your zero-cost buck by attending a college fair. These events, held typically in the fall and spring around the country bring college recruiters to cities to talk with prospective students and their parents.

Typically, as many as 200 or more colleges attend these events — and many of my former students found their dream college at one of those fairs. If you do not have the time or money to travel all over the country or even just your own state, you can get some pertinent information in a short couple of hours.

You can find one in your area by talking to your high school counselor. Some of the major ones are sponsored by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), and I have listed a link to its scheduled fairs at the end of this blog. An organization on the West Coast that sponsors college fairs is the Western Association for College Admission Counseling (WACAC), and I’ve listed the link to the two in the West that it sponsors below as well. You should register in advance to save time at the door for these FREE events, so you can save time when you arrive. You will get a bar code that colleges can quickly scan to send you material in the mail after the conference.

(As you search for these college fairs in your area, make sure that as you register online, that you are registering as a STUDENT and not a college rep. These are most always FREE events, so if the online form asks for payment . . . oops, you’ve got the wrong form!)

Look sharp when you go. Often the college reps at these fairs are from the prospective students or outreach office at their university. However, sometimes you might find that admissions officers and perhaps even the head admissions counselor is standing right in front of you.

To make the most of these events, engage with the college representatives. As I’ve taken students to college fairs over many years, I give them a pep talk before we enter the event, saying something silly like this: “You’re happy! You’re smart! You’re friendly!” That gets a smile on their faces and helps them understand that they should be the one most proactive about getting the most from the experience.

Do the following:

1. Smile, extend your hand, and introduce yourself. “Hi, I’m Sally Smart, and I’m a student from Littletown.”

2. Explain what kind of college program you’re interested in. “I’m interested in mechanical engineering. Can you tell me something about your program?”

3. Engage in conversation about those subjects important to you. Here are some other great questions to ask:

  • “How would you characterize the students at your university?”
  • “What do students like most about the college?” “What do they like the least?”
  • “Is the faculty accessible to students other than the traditional office hours?”
  • “Are any departments being cut back or discontinued? If so, why?”
  • “What percentage of students receive merit-based financial aid? And what percentage of students receive need-based financial aid?”

You and your parents might want to make a list of important questions before you attend the college fair — ones that are most important to you.

I coach my students to ask each college rep at least a couple questions. One that can often catch a rep off-guard is “Do you like your job?” You can find out the true answer to that in their face — and that can say volumes about a school, too! If the rep was a student at that college, ask that person to relate some of their best and worst experiences.

Pick up any and all of the freebies: brochures, flyers, pens, and other trinkets. If you can’t use them, your friends and even your high school counselor probably can.

Any exciting news about college acceptances yet?

Here are those links to find college fairs near you:

http://www.nacacnet.org/college-fairs/students-parents/Pages/default.aspx

https://www.wacaccollegefair.com/Registration/EventSelectForState?stateName=All