Rankings and personal student reviews are compiled at www.CollegeGrader.com and aggregated at HowToGetIn.com.
College Reviews and Rankings in 10 Most Populous States
Here is the list for Washington, DC - where I went to school:
Find your state here:
Student Scholarship Search has recently been relaunched!! The new and improved website offers students an open search tool (no registration required), custom lists of scholarships along with articles and blogs with useful advice for students, parents and administrators.
Please spread the word. Add a link from your website to: http://www.studentscholarshipsearch.com
One of my favorite resources is the free scholarship search ebook. Download (link: http://www.studentscholarshipsearch.com/ebook/) this useful resource with tips and advice on how best to find scholarships using the internet.
If you have edits or ideas for improving the site, click on the feedback button along the side of the web page.
Add your comments below!
If you want the easy route, check out ScholarshipPoints - a free student rewards program allowing students to earn points toward scholarships by completing online activities. They are giving away $10,000+ this month alone!
Otherwise, as always, check in with your financial aid office for assistance in finding scholarships and grants.
Edvisors is about creating great sites for students. We are a leading student marketing company operating a portfolio of interactive sites that provide information, tools and resources to help students further their education. Vist our new site to learn more...
Visit: Scholarship Search Mistakes to learn the top mistakes students make when searching for scholarships.
What was your biggest mistake? Share your comments below.
|12 month unduplicated enrollment, 2009|
|1||University of Phoenix||Online Campus||532,672|
|2||Comm College of the Air Force||Multiple Campuses||324,573|
|3||Kaplan University||Multiple Campuses||96,166|
|4||Miami Dade College||Miami, Florida||96,123|
|5||Houston Community College||Houston, Texas||78,780|
|6||Ashford University||Multiple Campuses (Headquarters in Clinton, Iowa)||78,353|
|7||Arizona State University||Phoenix Metropolitan Area, Arizona||75,341|
|8||Strayer University||Washington, DC||74,713|
|9||Lone Star College System||The Woodlands, Texas||69,340|
|10||Northern Va Comm College||Annandale, Virginia||67,175|
|11||University of Minnesota, Twin Cities||Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota||65,006|
|12||Austin Community College District||Austin, Texas||64,276|
|13||Ohio State University||Columbus, Ohio||62,807|
|14||Tarrant County College District||Fort Worth, Texas||62,488|
|15||College of Southern Nevada||Las Vegas, Nevada||59,691|
|16||University of Florida||Gainesville, Florida||59,614|
|17||University of Central Florida||Orlando, Florida||59,360|
|18||American River College||Sacramento, California||57,959|
|19||Pima Community College||Tucson, Arizona||57,924|
|20||East Los Angeles College||Los Angeles, California||57,340|
|Penn State Univ||PA||$14,416|
|Univ of Pitt||PA||$14,154|
|University of Vt||VT||$13,554|
|St. Mary's College of Md||MD||$13,234|
|New Jersey Inst of Technology||NJ||$12,856|
|Penn State University- Altoona||PA||$12,750|
|Penn State University- Berks||PA||$12,750|
|Penn State Erie-Behrend College||PA||$12,750|
|Penn State Harrisburg||PA||$12,750|
|University of New Hampshire||NH||$12,743|
|The College of New Jersey||NJ||$12,722|
|University of Illinoi||IL||$12,528|
|Penn College of Tecy||PA||$12,480|
|Penn State Abington||PA||$12,250|
Keep in mind, the average cost of all public 4 year colleges is about $6,400. When compared to private colleges, these numbers seem much more affordable...
To search for colleges, visit www.howtogetin.com
http://www.linkedin.com/groups?mostPopular=&gid=1771062 - "College Counselors : Admissions and Financial Aid"
Feel free to list others in the comments section below.
By Marcia Y. Cantarella, Author, I CAN Finish College: The Overcome Any Obstacle and Get Your Degree Guide.
Especially if you go away to college it is like all the blocks to fun are removed. No more parents watching and nagging about when you get home, no one checking how many beers you had or if you used a condom. Whoo whoo—college is a party! That is why there are those lists of the best party schools. And if your school is not on the list then you will fix that!
Truth is fun is fun. It is a good thing. We all need some of it in our lives. A good belly laugh or pick-up basketball game can even extend your life and keep you healthy. Relationships are supposed to be fun (not that they always are) and it is healthy to have strong social ties and networks for both professional and personal gratification. So hanging out is fun and good for you. I am all for fun. Do it myself a lot. But there is this other word—BALANCE. That is key when you think of fun. You cannot succeed in college and have all fun all the time. You need to work some, sleep some, eat some, and play—some. Balance it all out.
The worst case scenarios for college students are the ones that began as fun and ended badly. The drunken car accident that takes a life is not fun anymore. The fight that escalates to someone getting really hurt and hospitalized is not fun. Date rape is not fun. Throwing up is not fun. Being expelled is not fun. Falling off the campus monument and breaking a leg is not fun. Failing your courses because you were too hung over to get to class or do the work is not fun. Failing classes because you were in your room gaming is not fun. Explaining to your family that scraped and saved to send you to college why you are coming home because you were too busy having fun is not fun. Losing your financial aid because you failed classes having fun is not fun.
There is something in the hormonal make-up of those under 30 that, it is suggested, lead to feelings of invulnerability. The bad stuff happens to other people, but won’t happen to you. There is a reason young folks go to war. That invulnerability allows them to take risks that those of us older and wiser would call nuts. But bad stuff does happen. There are whole websites devoted to that bad stuff like hazing deaths and drunk driving outcomes and ugliness resulting from substance abuse. Things that start as fun when taken to extremes are not fun in the end.
So there is another word you need to learn in college and it is NO. That is no, thanks, no more beer. Or no thanks I can’t go out tonight. Or no that is nuts and I am not doing it. Or no that is wrong and I am not doing it. Or no this is not fun anymore. This is not to suggest that you have No fun. But that you have sane fun, balanced fun. Fun that won’t make you fail.
( For more on this topic in detail see I CAN Finish College chapters 6, 8 and 9. www.icanfinishcollege.com)
In the last posting we talked about “ F” as in Failure also being tied to three other “F” words including fear, finances and fun. Finances are a huge reason so many students fail to complete college. And fear is also part of that financial reason because again so many do not ask for help with finances because they are afraid of looking dumb or because they just don’t know that help is there or who to ask. As a stranger in this new place called college, a good first question is to ask would be who the money folks are. The financial aid office carries the same scary aura that we attach to most institutions that deal with money. Money is such a huge taboo topic and few know enough about it and fewer still seek the kind of education that they need to make good choices about money. Financial aid is called aid because aid means help. So think of this as the financial help office. This is the office that can help you with the money to pay for college. Sadly they cannot print money. But they can help you find the ways that you can reduce the amount that comes out of your pocket to pay for your education.
Fear also plays into the fact that some parents are afraid to reveal too much about their financial situations—tax returns and such and so do not take advantage of tax breaks that could save literally thousands of dollars from school costs. Interestingly it is the more affluent, financially savvy—who need the funds least who take advantage of the tax breaks that are actually meant for the more needy. This is not $mart.
Money and work go together. You get paid for working in most cases. Well that also applies to getting your out-of-pocket expenses for college reduced. You may have to do some work to research scholarships that you could be eligible for. Websites like www.edvisors.com are a goldmine of information on financial aid and strategies. You certainly have to work hard to get the kinds of grades that will get you the best scholarships. You have to work to fill out the applications for various funds including the federal form called the FAFSA which enables you to access federal college funding through programs like Pell grants.
Some of you will work while you are in college to make up the difference between what you get in financial aid and what you have to pay yourself. The best is work on campus where they will be more understanding of your need to leave work to attend a class or to take off during exams. But most will be working full or part time in places ranging from Starbucks to corporations. Working while at school may be necessary but it can also be a trap. If your job results in your taking too long to get your degree you may lose in several ways. You may not have time to study and so fail courses which then puts you behind and impacts your GPA and then that can impact your scholarships including federal aid. If you take more than 4 years to get your degree then you lose your eligibility for federal and sometimes state aid. And if you keep deferring getting the degree you are also deferring the shot at higher paying jobs. You could be taking one step forward and two back! So it is best, if you can, to reduce the hours you work so as to expedite getting through school with the best grades you possibly can. Again your financial aid (help) office can maybe find enough if you are a good student to enable you to take that change in jobs.
Money and math also go together. Do the math. Figure out how much you will need to live on while in college and begin to save now—maybe fewer movies out and more Netflix in. Figure out how much working is costing you in deferred wages or in money you will end up having to pay out once you have timed out of federal aid eligibility. Someone in your financial aid office can help you do this math—just ask for help—that is what they are there for. When you see the numbers you may be motivated to do things a bit differently. Finances are about dollars and sense. Use yours well.
( For more on this topic in detail see I CAN Finish College chapter 2) www.icanfinishcollege.com)
When we think of F the word that comes to mind is failure. (Then there is the other “F” word, but we will not go there here…) When you think of F in relationship to college life it is a screaming panic letter invested with all kinds of power. Who knew that your entire life was wrapped up in one little letter of the alphabet? But in reality F before it becomes failure (which is not, by the way, a terminal state) also can stand for Fear, Finances, and Fun. Those other F words are the ones that can lead to failing to complete college or to failing grades—which can also lead to failing to complete college.
Fear—the fear of looking dumb is one of the biggest barriers to college success that there is. This is the fear that translates to not asking questions whether in class or of advisers. It is the fear that means you will not get the help you need.
On many campuses first year biology is a course that is taken by students who think they want to go to medical school or enter the health professions (often not because it is a real passion but because of other pressures—more on that in a different blog post). In any event, a large number of students take bio and a large number fail. When I have spoken to these students after the fact it turns out that from day one they did not understand what was going on, but assumed everyone else did (since no one was asking for explanations) and so everyone sat with material flying over their heads and the Fear of being thought dumb keeping them from asking for the help and explanations they needed.
The faculty is there to teach you things you do not know and so asking is part of that process. No one will think you are dumb if you ask. They are more likely to be impressed. If you are in a strange town (hopefully) you do not wander around for hours and days looking for your hotel because you don’t know the way. You stop and ask someone. College is like that. You are the new dude in town and need to ask directions. And the nice thing about college is that there are lots of people there to answer the questions you have. The teachers, the advisers –called advisers because their job is to advise you --, the deans, upperclassmen, tutoring centers are all there to answer your questions and see that you get the information that you need to succeed. And on top of it you pay their salaries with your tuition dollars and so it would be dumb not to get your money’s worth. It would be like paying for the hamburger and leaving the meat behind. So if you want to avoid the F remember that Ask begins with A.
(See I CAN Finish College chapters 6 and 9 www.icanfinishcollege.com ) More on other words beginning with F to come.
Author: I CAN Finish College: The Overcome Any Obstacle and Get Your Degree Guide
Over the course of my career as a dean and senior administrator in a variety of schools I have heard the same question—usually in a plaintive voice and you can substitute any number of courses into that question—anthropology, history, art, literature. The assumption is that these are not practical courses. Having made the decision to go to college, presumably to become job-ready and more employable, then students look for the practical. Certainly if one is pursuing an online degree then time is precious. You don’t want to waste it with frivolity like philosophy.
But it may not be a waste at all. The question reveals the lack of understanding of the connection between what you get in an education and your future work life. Learning data entry is a good skill for the short term in a particular job. But critical thinking (such as what you would learn in a philosophy class) is a life-long skill that could actually get you out of the data entry pool.
So what does college prepare you for? College gives you skills that you can use in many career paths. Graduate school is where you most likely will specialize in the arena where most of your work life will be. Interestingly more leaders have liberal arts degrees as undergraduates than specialized degrees including undergraduate business degrees. The liberal arts are a strong preparation for the varied careers you may have along life's path. But what about preparing for a career? What you need for a career are skills. You also need evidence that you are intelligent and teachable. Your grades provide both.
We are in a fast-changing, information and service based environment. The field that is hot today may be gone tomorrow and replaced by something completely new. Think of social media’s impact on the advertising industry or ipods on the record industry. You need to show that you are smart in several areas. That would mean good grades in a variety of subjects and excellence in the majority of your courses. You need to show that you can find, absorb and integrate lots of information. Sometimes you may need to process it in different ways-"thinking out of the box." If you are engaged in a subject that you love then you will enjoy studying it. You will play with it. You will be more creative than if you are struggling to just understand the concepts of a subject area that you don’t really care about. And you just might find you love philosophy.
Employers also tell us that they seek, in addition to basic quantitative skills, really solid communications skills. You have to be able to write-presentations, memos, reports, speeches. They have to be clear, logical, literate (good grammar and spelling) and persuasive. Courses (like philosophy) that require you to read lots and to write many pages of papers are good practice for an executive career path. Firms want people who can come in and be good team players and can quickly learn how things are done. Translation: they seek people with good people skills and who are eager to learn and learn easily. If you majored in people centered subjects like Sociology, Psychology or Anthropology, to name a few, then you will know more about human behavior. But History and literature and Economics and Political Science are also studies in human behavior. All can help build skills useful in understanding situations and colleagues in the workplace.
Employers also seek people who have critical thinking skills and can solve problems even before they happen. Any major will enable you to develop those skills. All learning is about finding new knowledge and solutions to hard questions. Discovering how things work and why they work and how they have worked in the past is the essence of the work done in college. Engaging in research whether in the library or the lab is where the critical thinking skills are developed. The questions that professors ask to get you to think are designed to build this capacity. You must have some degree of quantitative aptitude. That means working with numbers. People come with varying degrees of skill in this area. Some is natural. You were born with it and would rather deal with numbers, spatial relations, or abstract quantitative concepts than read a novel or historical text. For others these are developed in school with varying degrees of success. Interestingly the field of logic which is highly mathematical is found in the philosophy department. However, whether you are managing a budget or developing a media plan based on data or designing a house you will need math in some form. Your future is in your skills—the ones that stretch your brain and can carry you for the long haul. Don’t stop with what looks purely practical. The people who get ahead don’t. Why Philosophy? It may be your path to the CEO’s chair that’s why. It’s all good.
For more go to www.icanfinishcollege.com (Chapter 4 of the book goes into this issue in detail)
Financial Aid Forums - Discuss all things financial aid!
Search for Scholarships -Search for college scholarships, awards and grants.
Federal Student Loans - A great overview of you federal student loan options and generally all ways to pay for college.
Private Student Loans - Find, compare and apply for private student loans.
Let us know f you find other useful websites...
Another great resource for learning more and asking questions about financial aid:
http://www.financialaidforum.com/ - Financial Aid Discussion Board
Let us know what other sites you find helpful!
In 2007, Harvard eliminated its nonbinding early action program on a trial basis and moved to a single admissions deadline, announcing at the time that it would evaluate the impact of the change after several years.
“We piloted the elimination of early action out of concern that college admissions had become too complex and pressured for all students, and out of particular concern for students at under-resourced high schools who might not be able to access the early admissions process,” said Harvard President Drew Faust. “Over the past several years, however, interest in early admissions has increased, as students and families from across the economic spectrum seek certainty about college choices and financing. Our goal now is to reinstitute an early-action program consistent with our bedrock commitment to access, affordability, and excellence.”
“We looked carefully at trends in Harvard admissions these past years and saw that many highly talented students, including some of the best-prepared low-income and underrepresented minority students, were choosing programs with an early-action option, and therefore were missing out on the opportunity to consider Harvard. We have decided that the College and our students will be best served by restoring an early option,” said Dean Michael D. Smith of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Harvard’s concerns about equity and transparency will continue to guide the structure of its admission program. It will maintain a nonbinding approach, which maximizes freedom and flexibility for students. As in the past, students can apply under the single-choice, early-action program by Nov. 1 and will be notified by Dec. 15, at which point students completing financial aid applications will receive notice of their awards. Regular decision will continue to operate as usual, with applications due on Jan. 1 and notification on April 1. All students, whether admitted under early action or regular decision, will have until May 1 to decide whether to attend.
To ensure that the return to early action serves Harvard’s commitment to access and diversity across many dimensions, the change in admissions policy will be accompanied by enhancements in the College’s recruiting program, including a new program promoting transparency in college admissions, greater outreach, and targeted staff visits to schools where few students apply early to college; increased involvement of Harvard undergraduates throughout the year in three major recruiting efforts — the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative, the Undergraduate Minority Recruitment Program, and the Undergraduate Admissions Council’s Return to High School Program; and enhanced web features providing families with the ability to calculate the likely net cost to them of sending a child to Harvard, and perspectives from financial aid students on life at Harvard.
“The commitment to including first-generation, low-income, and historically disadvantaged minority students in the full spectrum of admissions options is a key feature of this new early-action option,” said Harvard College Dean Evelynn Hammonds. “We have made significant gains in recent years in recruiting larger numbers of these students and in supporting them for success once here. I am very pleased that we are able to re-conceive early action, consistent with these goals, and to work with students based on whatever timetable best meets their needs.”
“We continue to be concerned about the pressures on students today, including those associated with college admission,” said Harvard College Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons. “In all of our work, we will do everything possible to level the playing field in admissions and encourage all students to make thoughtful choices about how they can best contribute to society.”
Learn more at: www.edvisors.com
Top ten online degrees and areas of study:
Quincy, MA (Vocus/PRWEB) February 09, 2011
Edvisors (www.edvisors.com) recently expanded its scale and resources with the addition of CollegeToolKit to its network of sites. More than 2.4 million students visit CollegeToolkit every year in addition to the 15 million students who visited the Edvisors network in 2010. The site delivers innovative and exciting college admission products and services to the high school and college student demographic. CollegeToolkit specifically has the best catalogue of calculators and PDFs. These valuable resources will now be available to 10 times as many students as part of Edvisors.
www.FAFSAonline.com has recently been updated to provide families with tips and tricks for completing the governments Free Application for Federal Student Aid - also known as the FAFSA form. Check out the site for advice, a free eBook and other tips for completing the form on time and error free.
Some FAFSA tips:
File early to increase your chances of receiving financial aid. Many sources of aid are limited and given out on a first come, first served basis. In this case, the early bird catches the worm.
Be careful - errors will cause delays in processing and (as described above) you may miss out on aid.
Ask for help - your financial aid officer is available to help you with questions and you can cal the Department of Education's Financial Aid Hotline at 1-800-4-fed-aid.
Get your FAFSA PIN (Personal Identification Number) from the DOE, save it and don't share it with anyone else.
Know your FAFSA school code. You will have to provide this when completing the FAFSA.
If you have other tips - please post them below!!!
ScholarshipPoints will give away more than $110,000 this year and likely even more next year. The beauty if it is that the more students who join, the more scholarship are given away...
If you have not allready, tell your students, family and friends to sign up at:
For more on Mark and his blog about marketing, business and culture, visit
Tight economy. College tuition increasing at 6 percent a year. More and more, the ability to go to college depends on how much financial aid you can get. Here, Don Betterton offers his best tips. For 30 years, he was director of financial aid and a member of the admission committee at Princeton University, and now a certified college planner.
1. Get on the stick. If you are like most parents of collegebound students, you have spent nearly all of your time on admission related issues: courses, grades, tests, activities, college visits, essay writing, and so forth. But now, with a high school senior, you are starting to worry about how you are going to afford the tuition bill. It is time to bring "How am I going to pay for college?" concerns front and center.
2. Know your EFC as well as you know your child's SAT. It's alphabet soup in the college financial aid world. EFC stands for Expected Family Contribution and is the number that drives the need-based financial aid system. You only are eligible for need aid (grants, subsidized student loans, work study) if your EFC is less than the cost of attendance. Now is the time to make this calculation so you can decide if you should apply for aid. Unless your EFC is considerably more than the highest cost college on your child's list, plan to apply for aid. And here's another rule: Regardless of the EFC result, if in your own mind you feel you need assistance, apply and let the college aid office decide if you will receive money.
3. Use the calculators. Many folks wonder, "How do I figure out my EFC?" EFC calculators are available at www.collegeboard.com and www.finaid.org .
4 Don't expect to "win." It is a common misconception that most college money is in the form of scholarships. In fact, compared to the total amount of aid ($154 billion to undergrads in 2009-10, according to the College Board), merit money is a drop in the bucket. Unless your student has outstanding talent or is in the top of the college's applicant pool, don't count on it. Need is where most of the money is.
5. Reach out to the college financial aid counselor. Somewhat like politics, the awarding of aid is a local issue. The EFC you come up with is a good starting point to get a rough idea of need eligibility, but college aid policies can change the calculator EFC by thousands of dollars. On top of this, an aid officer has the authority to use professional judgment to make further changes. Given all that takes place in the campus aid office to affect your EFC, if you have questions or concerns about how much money you will get, contact the college aid counselor.
6. Don't count yourself out. A common question is, "What is your income cutoff for financial aid?" This misconception is so widespread that I'm not sure the family believes me when I say none. The EFC is derived from four main factors: family size, total income, assets, and number of children in college. Moreover, the more expensive a college is, the higher the EFC can be and still qualify for aid. To give you an idea, a family earning $150,000 with a child attending an in-state public university will probably not qualify for aid. A family earning $250,000 with two children attending private colleges probably will.
7. Be prepared for complication. There is no getting around it, you are going to have to fill out at least one complicated aid application, two if your college requires an additional application called PROFILE). Believe it or not, completing the basic aid application—the FAFSA—is not as bad as it looks. You should do it online ( www.fafsa.ed.gov ) and complete the worksheet before entering your numbers. It will take a while to get all your info together, maybe 45 minutes to enter the data, and almost no time to push the "Send" button. Is this too much of a hassle considering that you might qualify for thousands—perhaps even tens of thousands of dollars—in aid?
8. Don't be paranoid (or at least keep it to a minimum). Your financial info does not go to a secret agency which will soon send a government agent to knock on your front door. You data is maintained within the U.S. Department of Education and is not shared with other federal agencies. But even if you are skeptical about this, I would not let your concern keep you from applying for and receiving your fair share of the large aid pie. You can't get it if you don't ask for it.
9. Prepare for the package—and the shortfall. If you do qualify for aid from your college, don't expect all of it to be in the form of grants, or gift aid. Almost all need aid is given in a "package" consisting of grant, a subsidized student loan (subsidized means you don't have pay interest while you are in college), and work study. Furthermore, because of tight financial aid budgets at most colleges, expect that the total amount of aid given will fall short of the amount for which you are eligible. This shortfall is called the "gap," meaning an extra amount you will have to provide in addition to the calculated EFC.
10. Meet the deadlines. It is not exactly first come, first served in the aid office, but nearly every college has a limited aid budget, and when the dollars run out, they stop giving aid. Late applications stand a good chance of showing up when there is no money left. But here's the good news: There are billions and billions of dollars out there ready to go to millions and millions of college students. If you become an educated aid consumer and complete the forms accurately and on time, there is a good chance that you will receive enough aid to make it possible for your child to attend that dream school. Wouldn't that be grand?
by Lynn F. Jacobs and Jeremy S. Hyman
Do students who pay full price without financial aid have a better chance of getting accepted into college
This is a hot topic in the College Confidential college admissions discussion board. One post asks: "Will my daughter have a better chance of getting acceptance if we check off that we don't need financial aid?" There are more than 50 responses!
At HowToGetIn.com, we have revamped our Paying for College section to help answer these and other questions for college applicants. To learn more, visit: http://www.howtogetin.com/pay-for-college/
What do you think? Post your responses below...
Private student loan rates are calculated based on a published index such as the Prime Rate for Private Student Loans or London Interbank Offering Rate (LIBOR) plus a "spread" or margin based on your credit score and history. You need to check with the lender you are applying with to get the specific rate index and the amount over the index they are going to charge you. Typically they don't give you this until after you have applied as they need to check your credit to determine your rate.
Senior College Prep Plan
|Meet with your guidance counselor to review your college plans and evaluate them in light of your test scores and junior year grades. It's a good idea to involve your parents in this meeting and to discuss your prospects for financial aid at this time.|
|If you have not already taken the required tests, or you and your counselor feel that you should take it again to try to improve your score, sign up for the October ACT or October/November SAT I and/or SAT II: Subject Tests.|
|Write to the colleges on your list and request admission, financial aid, and, if appropriate, housing applications. Keep a checklist with all the admissions and financial aid deadlines for the colleges you are considering. Check with your school to make sure your transcripts and other records are up to date and accurate. Ask teachers, employers, or coaches to write you letters of recommendation. Give them any forms that colleges require and follow up to make sure the letters are mailed on time.|
|Pick up a copy of the CSS Profile Registration Guide from your high school guidance office to see if any of the colleges on your list require this financial aid application form. If so, register for the profile service.|
|Attend a regional college fair to further investigate the college on your list. Make sure that your transcript and test scores have been sent. Set aside plenty of time to draft, edit and re-write application essays. Be sure to give your parents enough time to help you fill out any college financial aid forms, such as the CSS Profile. If applying for 'early decision,' send in your application now. Sign up for December/ January tests, if necessary. Begin to send in applications; be sure to keep copies of everything you send, with the date on which it was mailed.|
|Continue to file admission applications. You should also file the Free Application for Federal Student Financial Aid (FAFSA) online at http://www.fafsaonline.com/|
|File your last college applications. If you've applied for early decision, you should have an answer by now.|
|Request that your high school send the transcript of your first semester grades to the colleges to which you've applied.|
|Work with your parents to complete the FAFSA on or as soon after January 1 as possible. Send it in no later than February 1. If the financial aid processor requests additional information in order to process your application, submit it promptly. Check with your high school to find out if your state student aid program requires an additional application.|
February / March
|Monitor your applications to make sure that all materials are sent and received on time. Review your Student Aid Report (SAR) for accuracy. If necessary, correct any inaccurate items on the SAR and return it to the FAFSA processor (if you had a college transmit your FAFSA data directly, you must notify the college of any changes or corrections). If you have not received an SAR four weeks after you file your FAFSA, call 1-800-4FED-AID to inquire about your application status.|
February / March
|When a corrected SAR is returned to you, review it one more time. Then, if it is correct, keep a copy for your records. If a college requests your SAR, submit it promptly. DO this even if the SAR says you are not eligible to receive a Federal Pell Grant, as the college may be able to offer you other aid based on the information in that report.|
February / March
|If you haven't decided on a favorite campus, try to arrange a second visit. Talk to students and sit in on some classes so you can make an informed decision.|
|Review your financial aid award letters with your parents; be sure that you understand the terms and conditions that apply to each type of aid offered.|
|Decide on the one college that you will attend and send in your tuition deposit. Notify in wiring the other colleges that accepted you that you have selected another school. This is an important step. Other students will be hoping to receive your spot! Be sure to respond by May 1.|
|If your first choice college places you on its waiting list, do not lose all hope. Some students are admitted off the waiting list. Contact the college, let the admissions office know you are still very interested, and keep the college updated on your activities.|
|Remind your parents to check their eligibility for the HOPE and Lifetime Learning tax credits when they file their taxes. Next year, they may be able to reduce their taxes by up to $1,500 by claiming one of these credits for college expenses.|
|Work with your parents to establish a budget for your books, supplies, and living expenses. Determine how much of that budget grants and scholarships will cover, how much your parents will contribute, and how much you will need to supply. Then determine how much of your contribution will come from savings, from a student loan, and from what you might earn at an academic year job. Then, if necessary, complete a loan application form. Be sure you understand the terms of the loan before you and/or your parents sign a promissory note.|
|If you want to live on campus, and have not already done so, complete a housing/meal plan application.|
|Take Advanced Placement exams, if appropriate.|
|Request that your high school send a copy of your final transcript to the college you will attend. Notify the college of any private grants of scholarships you will receive.|
|Find out when payment for tuition, room, board, et. Will be due and investigate whether your college offers a tuition payment plan that lets you remit these charges in installments. Be sure you understand how financial aid will be disbursed and whether you can defer bill payment until the funds are available.|
|Apply for a summer job. Plan on saving a portion of your earnings for college.|
|Look for information from your new college about housing, orientation, course selection, etc. If your financial aid package included a Federal Work-Study award, it may be your responsibility to find an appropriate job. Plan to follow up with the financial aid office as soon as you arrive on campus.|
August / September
|Pack for college and look forward to a great experience.|
Most people believe that FAFSA -- Free Application for Federal Student Aid -- is the end-all when it comes to looking for money for college.
In fact, if you do nothing more than file your FAFSA online (which can be done on or after January 1, 2011), you're not likely to see a dime in scholarship and grant money, other than that which the school itself may provide (including work-study and loans) as part of your financial aid package.
If you don't file your FAFSA, look for no money (as in, nada, zippo, gornischt) from your college financial aid office.
As we've noted on our blog, The College Whisperer, time and time again, you have to begin and carry out an extensive and exhaustive search for scholarship money (it is out there, by the millions, if you know how and where to look, and, beyond that, you actually apply yourself). [HINT: Start by registering and creating a profile at Fastweb, and then, contact your counselor on what to do next.]
This post, however, is not about the scholarship search, but rather, completing all of the necessary pre-reqs (what we used to call "paperwork") in order to qualify for those scholarships, grants, loans, assistantships, fellowships, work-study programs and so on, as offered by colleges.
While almost every college insists on the FAFSA filing (and this is widely known among applicants and their parents), many schools also (meaning, "in addition to the FAFSA") require the filing of what is called the CSS-Profile. [Click HERE to see if the college(s) on your list require the CSS-Profile.]
Administered by the College Board (who else?), the CSS-Profile is a more detailed, school-specific filing, versus the general, broad application of FAFSA.
There are subtle -- and not so subtle -- differences, both in the information and data requested of the applicant (and his or her parents) and in the methodology by which financial aid is calculated.
The biggest differences between the CSS PROFILE and the FAFSA, as enumerated by finaid.org, are:
- Submission dates: The CSS PROFILE can be submitted in the fall; FAFSA cannot be submitted before January 1.
- Specific questions: The CSS PROFILE contains questions specific to the school or program you're applying to; FAFSA contains the same questions for everyone.
- Different methodology: The CSS PROFILE determines your financial need differently than the FAFSA, taking into account such factors as whether your family owns a home. In general, the CSS PROFILE asks for more detailed information than FAFSA.
- Minimum student contribution: The CSS PROFILE requires this; the FAFSA doesn't.
- Greater reliance on professional judgment: The CSS PROFILE gives financial aid counselors greater freedom to grant aid based on a student's particular circumstances.
- Cost: CSS PROFILE costs $5 plus $18 for each school or scholarship program selected; the FAFSA, as the name implies, is free.
Imagine that. Charging you money in order to qualify for money. Who but College Board would think of -- and get away with -- such a concept?
While there are nuances to completing and filing both FAFSA and CSS-Profile, the former is relatively straight forward, while the latter presents more of a challenge, mostly because of the details and particulars sought. On both, how you answer and the information you furnish will be used to calculate the now-infamous Expected Family Contribution (EFC), ultimately determining, through formulae of the colleges' own devise (greater secrets Los Alamos did not hold), how much aid you will get, and in what form (i.e., scholarships, work-study, loans).
While FAFSA cannot be completed and filed until after January 1 (you can, however, get an estimate of your financial standing at any time by going to the FAFSA4caster), the CSS-Profile can be completed online beginning on October 1, 2010. It is considered prudent, and we will neither argue nor belabor the point, to file your CSS-Profile early in the game rather than to wait, say, until you complete and file your FAFSA (which itself should be filed as soon as practical after January 1). The reason: Colleges often dole out financial aid awards on a first-come-first-served basis. When the money's gone, it's gone!
Other considerations -- merit, need, program-specific aid among them -- go into the mix when colleges decide who is to get what, and how much, and this, together with the information you provide, will create a matrix that allows the college's financial aid office to paint a financial aid picture for each individual student. With how broad a brush, and what kind of stroke, that picture is drawn is almost entirely dependent upon the content of the CSS-Profile and FAFSA filings.
Confusing? You bet. A bit scary, even, given the costs associated with college and the purse strings held by the folks who will decide your financial aid fate. Absolutely.
Do not take the completion and filing of either FAFSA or CSS-Profile lightly. Do consult with your independent college counselor and/or your financial advisor before you file. And be aware of both State and school deadlines when filing these forms.
Remember. There's money for college in them thar hills. You just have to know where to look, how deep to dig (use a shovel, not a toothpick), and be sure to dot the "i" and cross the "t" on every form you complete and submit, particularly the FAFSA and the CSS-Profile.
The average SAT score remains down nine points since 2006, when the writing section was first included and the test moved to a combined 2400-point scale. Average scores on the SAT college entrance exam held steady this year as a record number of students and more minorities than ever took the test, according to a report released Monday.
The status quo is an improvement over the slight downward trend over the previous five years. The high school class of 2010 earned a combined score of 1509 on the three sections of the exam, identical to last year's results. The average writing score dropped one point, math scores edged up one point, and reading results didn't budge.
Officials with the College Board, which administers the test, warned against reading too much into slight year-to-year movement, instead using the findings to argue for greater academic rigor in U.S. high schools.
A growing number of states are setting higher bars for students. Nearly 40 states have adopted Common Core State Standards, which establish uniform expectations for what students should learn by the time they finish high school.
"As high schools nationwide continue to move in the direction of rigorous coursework available to all students, we do think we'll see (SAT) scores going up over time," said Laurence Bunin, a senior vice president with the College Board.
At the same time, the growing diversity of the SAT text-taking pool also factors in the results, Bunin said.
Of the SAT takers in the class of 2010, 41.5 percent were minorities, up from 40 percent in 2009 and 28.6 percent in 2000. Most minority groups – with Asian-American students being the exception – score lower than the average.
Asian-American students posted gains in all three sections of the SAT and outperformed other racial groups; their combined score rose 13 points over 2009. ACT results released last month showed last spring's high-school seniors averaged a composite score of 21.0 on the test's scale of 1 to 36, down slightly from 21.1 the year before. Most colleges accept either the ACT or SAT, and a growing minority no longer requires either one.
Nearly 1.6 million students took the SAT this year. It remains the most popular college entrance exam, but not by much. The rival ACT has been gaining. Only about 28,000 more members of the class of 2010 took the SAT than the ACT.