“ I wish I had met you a couple of years ago”
This is probably the most common statement that I hear consistently from the parents that attend one of my workshops. It Seems like most parents ask me the same questions during and after the workshops. For this reason I would like to share with you, my top 10 list.
The Top 10 Most Common Pitfalls!
- Assuming They are Not Eligible for Funding. Although some financial aid is designed to help the financial needy students and parents, there is also an abundance of aid available for other students with families of all income and asset levels. It is important to remember that students may receive financial aid based on their high school achievements (academics, athletics, or other talents) regardless of their parent’s income and/or assets. “Financial aid is only for the poor” is the biggest misconception among students and parents searching for college money.
- Not Considering a College Due to Cost. It is vital to remember that the family will probably not pay the schools published cost of attendance, or what we refer to as the “sticker price.” In fact, less than thirty-five percent (35%) of all students attending college in the United States actually pay the institution’s advertised cost of attendance. (In a lot of cases if you are admitted into a top tier 1 University your cost may only be $3000 to $5,000 more a year in overall cost of attending a public university).
- Misunderstanding the Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR (results of the FAFSA) has several sections and contains several different types of information. It is important that families do not mistake the terminology that may deny one particular type of funding to mean that the student is being totally denied any funding what so ever. For example, the SAR will commonly say that based on your submitted information you are not eligible for a Federal Pell Grant. This simply means that the student is not eligible for a Pell Grant; however, there are several other forms of funding for which the student may qualify.
- Not Applying for Admission to 6 Colleges. The student keeping their enrollment options open is vital. Even if the student is absolutely sure they will be attending a particular school, it is important to apply to six colleges – not just one or two. The student certainly doesn’t want to become a “captive audience.” Committing to a school too early can also have a very negative influence on the amount of funding the student receives.
- Missing Deadlines Can Be Disastrous. This is a mistake that simply cannot be overcome. Without question, the most important item to remember regarding the entire college preparation and funding process is that funding is awarded on a first come, first served basis. There are no exceptions to this rule. It is vital to be first in line when applying for college funding.
- Not Previously Arranging a College Campus Visit. This is a very common mistake; it is something that is taken for granted by thousands of students and parents across the country. It is very important to thoroughly plan the college campus visits and prearrange the itinerary for the entire stay. In addition, the student should make an appointment to meet with both the institution’s Admissions Officer and Financial Aid Officer.
- Submitting a Disorganized, Incomplete, or Messy Application. Remember that in most cases the college or university, the scholarship sponsor, and the federal government will determine the student’s eligibility for admission and funding based on one basic piece of information ; their application. It is vital that all applications be as complete and organized as possible.
- Being Dishonest. It is important that students and parents do not embellish their applications in any way. It is important to always give an accurate, detailed account of the student’s high school achievements and the family’s financial situation. Financial aid applications are commonly verified (audited) and if a discrepancy is discovered due to deliberate misinformation, the student may very well lose all available funding.
- Student Failing to Provide Letters of Recommendation. Most all colleges require at least two letters of recommendation (one from the high school counselor and the other from a high school teachers). In fact, a large number of institutions commonly ask for several recommendation letters. In most cases, the student is able to pick the people who write their letters of recommendation. Remember that the colleges are attempting to discover as much as they can about the student, and recommendation letters are a very valuable and often overlooked method of doing this.
- Not Immediately Accepting All Offers of Funding. By accepting all offers, the student reserves the awarded financial aid in their name. When the student makes their final college selection, they will then be able to go back and notify each non-selected college that they will not be attending and are relinquishing the funding offered at that particular institution. It’s very important to first accept all financial aid offers and then later (after the student has sorted through all possibilities and made their final decision) going back and relinquish the offers at the schools they will not be attending.
I hope you find this list is helpful for you and your students as they prepare go to college.
If you have any questions please call me at 281-841-2943 or you can go to http://www.keywealthstrategies.com/ to find information on when and where the next “How Will You Pay For College” workshop will be held.