Monthly Archives: March 2016

Tips For Funding Your Child’s College Career

School is back in session and it is time to start thinking about college fees! In fact, the coming months are some of the most crucial in determining the future of your financial well-being with regard to college costs. Bear this in mind, even though all of your required forms might have been completed, the total work is not done. In fact, it is the activities and decisions of the next few months that will have a profound effect on the education-related bills you’ll be facing over the coming few years.

In order to make our college funding information relevant to a wide spectrum of readers, we have divided this month’s newsletter into two separate segments. First, we will focus on the most time-sensitive population of our readers – parents of graduating high school seniors who plan to attend college in the autumn. For those of you in this group, I have five crucial tips of things you can do this summer to make the most of this time and maximize your benefits down the road! These items will be of interest to our other group, those parents whose children will become seniors this coming school year. In addition, however, you will find three more suggestions for those who have one more year before college tuition and fees will come due.

SEGMENT ONE: Five Tips For Your Graduating Senior

Tip #1: Plan Ahead Now For Future College Years

Gaining a college education is not a one-year proposition, so it is an unfortunate necessity that the college funding process needs to be revisited every year of your student’s academic program. One important fact to bear in mind is that once your child begins college, every single year is going to be considered a “Base Financial Year.” This fact is discussed in more detail in the second section of this newsletter, but for now simply remember that you’ll be completing another Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and CSS Financial Aid Profile (PROFILE) every year that your child is in college!

Tip #2: Encourage Your Student To Find A Summer Job

Naturally, people tend to focus more on enjoying the summer weather than finding a job, but there can be very real benefits – both financial and personal – from working at least part time. The money students earn can help toward college expenses in the Fall, and the self-reliance and work ethic they gain will be a boon in school, as well. In addition, however, there is a magic number to keep in mind as you encourage summer employment for your child.

As long as your child does not earn more than $3,249 a year, their funding package won’t be affected. Part time work will usually allow them to earn that much money in a summer, offering a great sense of accomplishment… and also some financial resources that would not exist otherwise!

Tip #3: Plan For Educated And Responsible Spending

Most of us recognize that earning a full $3,249 this summer is great, but it won’t pay for everything! Many families will need some help along the way. Once you have accurately calculated your student’s tuition and living expenses, the next chore is figuring out how you’re going to meet them. For help in planning out how to do this, you can always feel free to visit our website at http://www.myschoolplans.com. We have experience in helping families achieve their educational goals, and will be happy to assist. For example, we have a useful financial strategy helping many parents pay for college on a “tax-favored” basis. It doesn’t work for all families, but in the right situation it allows parents to meet college expenses without being forced to dip into pensions or raid savings accounts. We will be happy to let you know if this plan will work for you.

One other thing to note about college expenses – they include spending money and other costs for your child. Granted, tuition and living costs might be the bulk of college bills, but textbooks, transportation, mobile phone bills, and the all-important social life are nothing to sneeze at! In the right situation, with a responsible student, some parents help their child to meet these expenses with a credit card. In this circumstance, it is crucial that the parents and student set very distinctly understood limits regarding the use of the credit card. For example, some families will use credit only for emergencies and/or travel tickets home. Others are in a situation to allow credit purchases of some meals out at restaurants, concert tickets, and recreational trips. First and foremost, parents must be able to track the spending so that there are no unpleasant financial surprises and/or credit disasters down the road.

Bear in mind that in the case of emergencies, many schools offer money through “bridge loans” or “emergency loans.” These are funds set aside by the school specifically for student emergencies. These loans usually must be repaid within 90 days, and can be a good option instead of an emergency credit card.

Tip #4: Search For “Last Minute” Strategies To Meet Your EFC

If you are still convinced, after reviewing your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) numbers, that the difference between the EFC and the amount you think you can afford to pay is more than you can afford… well, take some comfort in the fact that you’re far from alone! In fact, many parents and students find themselves in exactly the same position. If you’re still not sure how you’re going to pay your EFC, then visit our website for a free video on how to understand the process. There are a number of good options and with careful planning now, you can make the most of the money that you have available.

Tip #5: Nobody’s Perfect… So Learn From Any Mistakes!

Sure, filing that FAFSA every single year may be monotonous… but there is a benefit to the extra work! In the event that you ever make a mistake by missing a deadline, making a calculation error, or anything else, you will only pay the price for one year. In the future, you can remember what you did wrong, and fix the error for all following years.

SEGMENT TWO: Three Tips For The Last Year Of High School

Tip #1: THIS Is Your “Base Financial Year…” Craft It Wisely

This is an almost overwhelming year with regard to the reams of forms and applications you will need to fill out over the coming months. These forms are crucial because colleges will use them to review your income and assets as they determine the makeup of your college financial package. In short… your Base Financial Year starts NOW. If your child will graduate and begin college in 2008, know that your 2007 figures will be the ones that make the difference. This means that there are consequences to all your financial changes this year. Any purchases, such as a new car or home, new business expenses, pay raises, or changes to your asset portfolio will have an effect on the funds that your student can receive as part of their “need-based” aid package.

Obviously, then, families need to thoughtfully consider any financial move this year. However, that knowledge should not paralyze you when it comes to financial matters! We recommend that you arrange your finances so that you minimize out-of-pocket college expenses. If done correctly, the structure of your tax plan, placement your assets, and planning of your savings can all collectively boost your child’s education fund.

Tip #2: Start Your Student Thinking About College Options

For many high school juniors, college is a rather distant concept obscured by the present reality of the upcoming senior year! Still, this is the ideal time for students to start thinking about different colleges. Parents can request school catalogs and applications to introduce juniors to various campuses, and some families use vacations and other trips to visit schools of interest in a particular geographic area. Students who become interested early in a certain school may also find extra motivation to maximize their academic performance during their senior year.

In order to improve the odds of being accepted to at least one school, we recommend that students apply to six or seven colleges and universities. Receiving acceptance letters not only boosts your child’s confidence, but multiple offers can give the family additional options in negotiating with schools over aid packages! Certainly, the more options you have, the better.

Tip #3: Tell Your Own Future… Predict Your EFC

As mentioned above, your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is the amount that the federal government expects you to pay for your child’s education. Regardless of where your child attends college, the EFC amount remains the same. Now, there are two ways in which the EFC is calculated; Federal Methodology and Institutional Methodology. Interestingly enough, not all schools utilize the same method for calculating this important number!

Eating Cheaply on a College Budget

With all the other college expenses it is hard sometimes to find money in your college budget for food. Rather than give you some unrealistic advice about cutting back on your alcohol consumption, I have put together some of the best ways to save money on food in college. By implementing even just a couple of these money saving college tips you won’t have to decide between buy gas for your car or your text.

Money Saving Tip: Maximize College Meal Plan

Fully utilizing your college meal plan is the best way you can save money on food. Before the start of school you will usually be given several different meal plan options. Decide which plan you think will be best for you, and then choose the one above it. Your college meal plan is going to be the biggest bang for your buck, so don’t skimp. The end of my freshmen year my friends and I had lots of money still left on our meal plans and stocked our first college apartment with food and household goods from the student market.

Money Saving Tip: Shop at a Bulk Store

While going to the grocery store can save you lots of money over eating out everyday, shopping at a superstore like Costco will save you even more money. Get together with some friends and buy your food in bulk, and make sure to buy items with good shelf life or that you know you will eat a lot of. While buying a two pound block of cheese may seem like a good deal, it’s not if you let it go bad in your fridge.

Money Saving Tip: End of the day Deals/Dumpster Diving

This was one of my personal favorite ways to eat for free in college. A lot of restaurants make food fresh everyday (pizza by the slice, bagel shops, etc),and if they don’t end up selling it they will throw it in the trash. By showing up at closing time you are practically guaranteed free food. If you are unlucky to find an employee not willing to give you the food, move on to your next target. You are bound to find a restaurant that will hook you up. Become friends with the employees and even give them some money to guarantee yourself future success.

Although not very glamorous, dumpster diving behind grocery stores is equally as effective as going to eateries at closing time to pick off their excess food. Grocery stores are constantly throwing away food that they can no longer shelf, but is still more than good to eat. They will even nicely package the food to avoid animals from hanging out around the dumpsters, which doubles to preserve the food for thrift minded college students.

Money Saving Tip: Care Packages

One of the best ways to save money on food in college is the care package! If you can’t get your parents to send you more money, you can almost always get your mom to send you some food, including your favorite cookies. By timing the arrival of your care packages with some friends, you have the potential to create a consistent stream of incoming food packages.

Tips to Help You Get Accepted Into the College of Your Choice

Junior and Senior high school students all over the place have many decisions to make when it comes to furthering their education. Unfortunately, everyone will not be accepted into their first choice. However, if you want to increase your chances of getting into your first choice, consider the following tips:

As a student, your grades must meet the requirements of the college you wish to attend. This means keeping your grades up, even if it means extra tutoring sessions and staying after school everyday. Those who have proven they can meet the demands of college will be the ones who get accepted.

You must also understand that you are more than your grades. Of all the college tips you will read or hear about, you must realize that the well-rounded students are the ones who get accepted first. Get involved with high school activities and you will find yourself attending the college you placed as your first choice.

College will also place a lot of emphasis on your ACT or SAT scores. To make sure that your scores are more than adequate, consider taking an SAT or ACT prep course. Even if your time is limited, you will be able to find online classes that will help you prepare.

One of the recommendations that you will hear a lot about has to do with the application process. When filling out your applications for colleges, have someone else proofread what you have written. The worst mistake you can make is sending in an application that is filled with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.

Also, be sure that your applications are written in legible handwriting. If your handwriting is not the easiest to read, make sure that every application you send has been typed and is free of typos.

As a college education can be a large expense, do not forget to fill out college financial aid forms and apply for as many college scholarships as you can. This will help to ensure that your education will be more affordable.

Tips For Writing a Better College Scholarship Application

The application form that you fill up is the manifestation of who you are and of what you are as far as your application for easy scholarships for college are concerned. If you are dead serious in getting that scholarship or grant you had better give attention and time to what you are going to put into that scholarship application form.

You need to fill in your application as if your life depends on it. In reality it is because getting a scholarship can change your life. “Who is this person?” This is the prevailing question in peoples minds when they read through each and every application a few feet high that is staring back at them. You realize that as they pick each form, they could so easily throw it aside. Give them a reason to throw it away and they will. After all, their task is to find the people that are worthy and deserving of money from easy scholarships that will come their way.

What does it take to make a few hundred dollars? That could require a lot of sweat, hard work, patience and perseverance. How about a few thousand dollars for the next 4 or 5 years in college? Don’t you think that it will take a little something serious from you to get it?

What is it in the application form that can speak on your behalf the most? Have you thought about this? If you haven’t yet, this is the time to do so. The one single thing that has the capacity to speak about who you are and what you are is your personal statement. If you will just type in the first thought that comes to mind this spells disaster for your effort to qualify for a scholarship. You should take extra attention, extra care and deep thought in crafting your personal statement.

Write down whatever comes to mind. Then read it back to yourself. Do this until you can choose one which best represents who you are. Then look over the others and choose the words that are important to you and add them to your main statement. Then, rephrase the whole thing ensuring that the statement packs a punch. This means that the statement should have clarity, easy to understand, meaningful and draws out the emotion of the reader. If you can achieve this, you are well on your way to getting easy scholarships for college.

There are also many easy to get college scholarships that do not even require this much and all you need to fill in a brief statement about what you ant to study or why you need financial aid. Apply for a scholarship today and get yourself a degree.