Further proof that when you take our advice and follow our system, you get fantastic results…
The College Money Guys is pleased to announce that our final scholarship numbers for our class of 2015 students have just been finalized. We were able to help last year’s Seniors achieve over $10,151,330.00 in free money for college! That’s an average of over $150,000.00 PER STUDENT for 2015. This is grant and scholarship money and does not include any loans (which only make college more expensive).
In addition, we are over the Five Million dollar mark for our class of 2016 Seniors and not even half of our 2016 class have reported yet.
Thanks to our students and their families for another record year!
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I recently had a client approach me with the idea of setting up a trust for their student, hoping that it would disqualify the money from the financial aid formulas. Thank goodness they asked before moving forward. The cold reality is, a trust is one of the worst ways to go if you are hoping for financial aid. Why, you may ask? Let me tell you…
First, trusts are generally considered a tool of the ultra wealthy used to avoid paying taxes. This is a common misconception, but the operating word here is “common”. Many financial aid officers will look at an applicant with a trust and mentally stick a silver spoon in the student’s mouth. Unfair or no, this is going to work against you when you’re competing for grants and scholarships against other students who do not have a trust.
But let’s just say that you have a financial aid officer that understands that not all “trust babies” are wealthy. You’re still fighting an uphill battle from a financial aid standpoint.
This is because the financial aid office considers the the trust to be an asset, and the money contained therein as available for college expenses. This is true regardless of the terms set forth in the trust document. Even if the student can’t access the money until they’re 30, the college is going to consider that money from a financial aid eligibility standpoint. So let’s look at what that means when we run it through the formula.
If your child is the beneficiary of a trust, whether or not the trust is available, the FAFSA will reduce aid eligibility by 20%. There is no Asset Protection Allowance for the student. This means that for every $10,000 put in a trust for your student your EFC will increase by $2000.00. Over four years that’s an $8,000 reduction for every ten grand, which works out to 80%. The same goes for UTMA’s, UGMA’s and (sadly) gifts from grandma and grandpa, if done through typical estate planning strategies.
Bottom line, if your child is the beneficiary of a trust, it’s going to hurt come financial aid time.
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Home for the holidays can be stressful for parents of college students.
Beware of Hidden Landmines
Your college freshman is coming home for the holidays, now what? Having the time to reconnect and visit is very enticing. But this time is filled with lots of hidden landmines. Your child has been on their own with no curfews, no one to report to, enjoying total freedom. The dynamics have changed and whether we as parents want to admit it, so have our children. So, how do you navigate this new twist to your relationship?
Remember the Key Term – Respect
The key term to remember during this time is respect. Once your child has returned and settled in it is time to sit down and discuss the parameters of this new phase of your relationship. By discussing expectations at the beginning of the visit you can set the tone for a very enjoyable break. Keep in mind that the discussion is a two – way talk, your student will also have expectations and requests that need to be heard and honored.
Communication is Highly Important
Prior to the conversation it would be wise to let your child know that you’d like to talk about their time at home and what plans they have. In giving them an opportunity to think about their plans, the discussion will be more productive and they will not feel ambushed. The goal is to tackle this new territory together. Your parenting role has shifted now and getting used to this new role will require you to spend some time determining what you want this new part of the journey to look like. I really encourage you to put thought into this; purposeful parenting should always be your motto!
Don’t leave this visit to chance. Don’t wait until your expectations are not met to talk with your student. Chances are if you do you will be feeling disappointed and angry and this is not a good recipe for building a strong relationship. Together you and your child can determine a level of understanding that will allow both of you to enjoy the holidays and your time together!
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A few days ago, I was talking with one of our clients about their daughter’s Spanish classes. She is struggling (a little… she currently has a “B”) with the class and they wanted to know if she should drop the class and take a different elective, perhaps one in which she could easily get an “A”. Many students (and parents!) struggle with this question. They often wonder if taking two years of one language in high school is enough. Here’s the thing – it’s not just about the grade; it’s about what your transcript is telling the admissions office. It’s about the message you’re sending; the message beyond what any transcript will ever show.
I was on the Texas Classical Society’s website and came across a number of quotes from admissions personnel that specifically address this issue. Any time you can get inside the head of an admissions officer it’s a valuable exercise. Remember, scholarships and grants are greatly influenced by how much interest the college or university has in your son or daughter. Any time you can give yourself a leg up over the competition you not only increase the likelihood of admission, you also increase the likelihood of receiving free money for college. I can’t emphasize this point enough. Financial aid is often used as MARKETING.
So… having said that, here’s what college admissions personnel are saying when they look at the language section of an applicant’s high school transcript.
“[. . .] the student studying for four years has a genuine interest in knowledge and education, not just in fulfilling minimum foreign language requirements.” – Matthew Potts, Admissions Counselor, University of Notre Dame
“We give the most consideration to students who have taken the highest level language available at their school.” – Robert Killion, Office of Admissions, Haverford College
“Our recommendation is that, in terms of high school preparation, students take 4 years of a single language, believing that achieving proficiency in a language is preferable to not quite achieving proficiency in two.” – Steve LeMenager, Director of Admissions, Princeton University
“[. . .] the more years of a language, the better—it shows that the student has gone beyond the minimum requirement.” – Lia Brassord, Assistant Director of Admissions, Smith College
“While most colleges do not require four years of a language or a science for admission, dropping a discipline can be detrimental to a student’s chances of being admitted. Admission Officers are looking for students who have challenged themselves in many areas. At the most competitive colleges in the country, Admission Officers are making distinctions between thousands of overly qualified applicants. In speaking with students about senior year course selection, we encourage students to think carefully before dropping a language.” – Andrea Thomas, Assistant Dean of Admission, Hamilton College
“[. . .] depth and mastery are important in the serious study of any discipline. The student who is willing to do more than the minimum is always more appealing.” – Ray Brown, Dean of Admissions, Texas Christian University
“We look for at least three years of study of the same language for many of our programs. If not completed before admission, it must be made up with a year of college-level study.” – B.J. Ore, Sr. Associate Director of Admissions, University of Pittsburgh
“Ideally a student will present at least 4 years of the same language (classical or modern) if the curriculum allows.” – Terry Cowdrey, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, St. Lawrence University
“The more years in one language the better it shows commitment and desire for proficiency.” – Dennis O’Driscoll, Director of Admissions, Creighton University
“Three to four years of a language shows follow-through and a deeper level of interest.” – Michael C. Behnke, Vice President for Enrollment, University of Chicago
© 2012, Texas Classical Association. This survey was made possible by support from the American Classical League.
Permission to copy and distribute is granted and encouraged.
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Are you the parent of a high school student wondering “How am I going to pay for college?”
You are not alone!
Brannon Lloyd of The College Money Guys in Houston, Texas, recently shared valuable funding tips and myths with high school parents at Fort Bend Christian Academy’s College Financial Aid night. As a parent with one already in college plus a high school junior, I was eager to find out how to maximize the funding I missed the first time and to effectively evaluate college choices! Here are some of the best tips I learned:
Tip #1 Know the Real Cost
Don’t let the college sticker prices scare you! Every college has an average “Cost of Attendance” (COA)which includes tuition, room and board, fees, books, and supplies. Not included on the list are personal expenses and travel costs to and from the college which may impact your family based on the school’s location.
Your “Estimated Family Contribution” (EFC) is the amount colleges expect you to pay based on the numbers calculated on the FAFSA form (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Colleges determine your financial need by subtracting the EFC from the COA.
The real cost, or net price, is the amount you pay out-of-pocket after your unmet financial need, EFC, gift aids (scholarships, grants), and self-help aids (work-study, loans) have been deducted from the COA.
Why is this important to know? By comparing the net price of various colleges, you might discover that the school with the higher sticker price is actually the more affordable option!
Tip #2 Ask Every School This Question
To assist in evaluating and comparing college costs even further, you should ask:
- What is the average time to graduate (ATG) from your school?
In the U.S. the average time to graduate from state schools is 5.7 years. Private schools have a shorter time of 4.1 years. State schools (unlike private schools) have restrictions on class sizes, times offered, etc. which could potentially lengthen the amount of time needed to complete graduation requirements. The ATG could make a significant difference in costs over the long run!
Tip #3 DON’T Do These Things
Mr. Lloyd offered a great list of “Don’ts” when stepping through the college admissions process with your student:
- Don’t procrastinate – start working on your college financial aid planning at the beginning of your student’s junior year to maximize your financial aid eligibility and to start saving!
- Don’t assume the college admissions process is easy – it takes time to write essays, gather your financial information for completing the FAFSA from, visiting campuses, and prepping for the SAT and ACT tests.
- Especially for Parents:
- Don’t write your child’s essay for him! College admissions officers can compare application essays with his SAT exam essay and quickly figure out they don’t match in style and vocabulary.
- Don’t talk to the admissions office. Let your student communicate with them regarding their application, deadlines, or any other important questions.
- Don’t blow off senior year–all semesters in high school are important to college admissions officers!
- Don’t list any colleges (to send scores to) on the SAT or ACT tests. Don’t display your favorite college on your social media channels. It’s in your best financial interest to not let your top college choice be known to admissions!
- Don’t have an unprofessional email address and be sure and check it often. Important information regarding deadlines, financial aid awards, etc. will be sent via email.
Tip #4 The Number One Way to Get More Money!
According to Brannon, the #1 way to get more college money is to…
Apply to 8 schools!
For some reason, this number of applications seems to be the sweet spot when prompting competing offers from colleges. Simple enough, but definitely requires planning and time to complete the process. Mr. Lloyd suggested breaking down the schools into stretch schools, safety schools, and a mix of private and state colleges. When filling out your FAFSA form and listing the schools you have applied to, be sure and list them in alphabetical order so that you’re top college choices won’t be evident at the top of the list!
Planning and paying for college can be a daunting task. Hopefully, some of these tips will make the college admissions process a little less stressful!
Fort Bend Christian Academy, one of the premier private schools in Houston, exists to glorify God through excellence in college preparatory Christian education. We invite you to visit the high school, middle, and/or elementary school campuses of Fort Bend Christian Academy and discover for yourself the FBCA difference!
Article Posted by Kim Rice at Fort Bend Christian Academy’s Website click here to view the entire article
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Mayor Annise Parker and Brannon Lloyd
Following one of our college planning workshops in Clear Lake. Mayor Annise Parker stopped by to talk with Brannon Lloyd, CEO of The College Money Guys, and spent some time discussing the high cost of sending a student to college. If you’d like to come to one of our free workshops and let us show you how to get more free money for college (grants and scholarships, not student loans), click here to get more information.
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