Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Future of Financial Aid

Most American families ask two questions when anticipating college for their teens: 1) Which is the best school for us?, and 2) How will we pay for it? With the cost of college tuition increasing every year, financial aid is an absolute necessity for the vast majority of students. While scholarships, grants and college savings plans can offset the cost of attendance, student loans are usually needed to cover the bulk of the cost.

The credit crisis that is currently shaking up the housing market is spilling over into the realm of student aid. Some experts see this as a positive development, providing the federal government, lenders and institutions of higher education an opportunity to seriously evaluate and make changes to a system that most acknowledge is broken. But like any systemic shift, any alterations to the current student loan program will be slow in coming. Should the changes begin with the FAFSA system? Lenders? An insistence that colleges begin to look at ways to cap costs? And in the meantime, what impact will this uncertainty have on students preparing for college in the next few years?

Inside Higher Ed offers perspectives on these issues in its article "Rethinking Student Aid--Really?" While there are currently no easy solution for the challenges of the financial aid system, it pays for those heading to college to be well informed and get the best advice possible to make sure that the road through college doesn't lead straight to the poorhouse. Tune in to the Financial Aid Podcast for up-to-date info and advice.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

New SAT Score-Reporting Policy: Better or Worse?

Last month, the College Board announced changes to their SAT score-reporting policy, giving students who take the SAT multiple times the flexibility to choose which scores colleges will receive during the admissions process (see the complete announcement below). Current policy allows colleges to see the scores from all SAT attempts a student makes; as of spring 2009 (sorry, rising seniors!), students will be able to sit for the exams as many times as they like and "hide" all but their best scores from admissions officers.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Jump Start Your College Search This Summer

Whether you're a soon-to-be freshman or a rising senior, make the most of those long summer afternoons by launching your college search. Looking for colleges that meet your needs and goals can be much less stressful when it isn't something you juggle along with homework, extracurriculars and social life during the school year. These tips from Colleges That Change Lives can help you get started:

Start With a Map
Start by making a list of the colleges within four hours of home—the distance most students travel when choosing a college. There are many websites that allow you to search by geography, so pick your state and those nearby and hit "find"! Try the US Dept of Ed College Navigator.

CSI: College Search Investigator
Start asking the people you know and respect if they went to college and where they attended. Ask relatives, friends, teachers, neighbors, church members, co-workers and others in your life. You may be surprised to learn about colleges you have never heard of that will be great for you to investigate. This is also a way to learn more about colleges from an insider's point of view. Just make sure to get more than one opinion before you add or delete any from your list!

Anime To Ultimate Frisbee—Choice By Interest
It is not unreasonable to narrow the field by looking for colleges that have your non-academic interests, whether that is leadership, sports, or hobbies. Use search engines and college websites to investigate whether you can keep doing the activities you enjoy and find others who share your passion. Alternately, some students choose to eliminate colleges with activities they dislike, so searching for colleges without sports, fraternities and sororities, or other specific activities is another way to make your list. College Matchmaker from College Board may help you search this way.

Need professional advice and guidance to find the schools that are best for you? Visit my website to learn more about how I can guide you on your path to the college of your dreams.

To learn more about College That Change Lives and its mission, visit their Website .