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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! 

Contests are money-makers

10 Oct

How long would it take you to earn $500? Sixty hours after deducting taxes and such?

High school students often overlook a great moneymaker — writing contests and other kinds of writing competitions. Counselors and teachers frequently get flyers and email notifications about essay contests, but it’s the rare student who enters them. With a little research and a focused essay, you can win $500 or $1,000 or more for the effort of an hour or so — nice pay for a relatively short investment of time.

Here are some tips about writing contest essays:

  • As you research contests choose topics about which you can write passionately, so that you are vested in your essay.
  • Read all the material provided by the organization. “Listen” to what the organization is telling you about how the essay will be judged.
  • Make sure you understand the actual topic.
  • Outline the question. Often there are several areas of focus the organization would like you to address. Make sure you — as the illustration above indicates — hit the mark of what the contest creators want.
  • Research the issue thoroughly, choosing reliable sources. Make sure you have the latest information, as often these are news driven. For example, if you are being asked to discuss solutions to solve a university system’s budget crisis, you need to know the current issues. Go to creditable sources, such as several news organizations that will give you varied perspectives about the issues.
  • Organize your essay appropriately, according to the essay type. For example, a reflective essay is organized differently than a persuasive essay.
  • Get feedback from a trusted adult, and revise your essay carefully.
  • Proofread meticulously — make sure there are no errors.
  • Follow all the specific directions for submission. It would be sad if your entry was thrown out simply because you didn’t, for example, put your contact information in the correct spot.

One current example is the annual John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage Essay Contest. Each year the JFK Library challenges high school students to write a focused essay about an elected official who has risked his or her career to demonstrate political courage. The website offers many links to help students about the elements of a strong essay, guidelines for citations, and other information. This is a very prestigious contest — one that could provide you with $10,000, as well as an exciting trip to Boston.

At the time my oldest child was applying to colleges, affirmative action was an issue regarding college admission. Colleges had been admitting quotas of minority students, relaxing standards at times so as to achieve ethnic diversity on their campuses. One statewide organization sponsored an essay about this topic, and my daughter entered the contest. She worked hard to get the latest news information — which was breaking almost daily — and wrote a strong persuasive essay arguing against quotas.

She was one of a half dozen students who won a $400 award, which the organizers presented to her and the other winners at a stunning reception at the top of the Transamerica building in San Francisco. Winning that award was a huge confidence builder for her–it helped her believe that she would be able to compete with others at the college level.

Research contests (make sure they’re legit) and choose a couple that have topics that interest you. Pay particular attention to local ones, as the odds for winning are greater. Then give them a try. It’s nice pay for a short investment of time.

 

I’m super-excited that my book, 50 Life Lessons for Grads, will be released in April 2018. Pre-orders for the book will be available soon. Look here or at your favorite book store site for more information 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.