Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Prepare for College Over Winter Break

After a long semester, your student will have a two week school break. Although there are holidays mixed in, along with the need to prepare for final exams. Here are a few ideas your student can consider over winter break.

Declutter College Material

If you have a high school student, most likely there are large stacks of college brochures accumulating in the house. With ample free time, now would be a great time to review these mass mailings. Examine each brochure. If the school intrigues your child, place it aside. If it is not their preference, begin filling the recycle bin. This small task will allow students to narrow their college choices without being overwhelmed by the bombardment of future mass mailings.

Web Research

Have your child research a few college websites of interest. Are there any unique opportunities offered at this school? Does this school match their list of wants and needs? Can your son or daughter see themselves on this campus? With as little as a half hour of research, a student can determine if a college should be further investigated. Have the student write down questions that need additional clarification from an admissions representative. Email the college directly for this information. After receiving these answers, is this a school that should be visited during the spring semester? Read more on how to properly visit a college campus.

Interest Inventories

Perhaps your student has narrowed their college list. The next question; what might they be interested in studying? Not an easy question to pose to a teenager. In order to conduct a proper college search, pairing a major with a college's academic program can help narrow the field of potential colleges. One way to do this is the take an interest inventory. This survey can be completed either online or from a trained professional. They will learn more about their personality, what skills they possess and how these skills relate to the world of work. This will help generate potential fields of interest to study in college.

Update Resume

Before they forget their accomplishments since August, have your student update their resume. Perhaps your student has yet to create a resume. This is a great time to begin. What should be placed on the resume? A student should place their academic accomplishments, extracurricular activities (sports, clubs and fine art involvement) along with a description, and volunteer or out-of-school involvement. This may seem like an overwhelming task, but once the student begins, it usually does not take long. In addition, you never know when a resume will be needed for a job, internship or scholarship. It is a good life lesson to always have an updated resume on file. Read more on what to add to a resume

We want to hear your suggestions for winter break activities for college bound high school students, leave a comment.

If you would like to know more about what your student can do over winter break, contact us.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Estimating College Financial Aid with the Net Price Calculator

In an attempt to create college financial aid transparency, the federal government created the Higher Education Opportunity Act. One of the mandates created in this act was the Net Price Calculator. Since 2011, this online tool has provided families the opportunity to estimate the real cost of attendance at every college or university.

Cost of Attendance

The cost of attendance to attend a college must be listed on a college's website. This includes tuition, room/board, books and expenses. Tuition refers to the amount of a money a student pays in order to attend classes and be considered a full time student (usually 12-18 credit hours). Room/Board refers to residing, on campus in an average size, two person dorm room, while being provided an average of 10-14 meals in the school cafeteria. Books refers to the estimated amount a student will spend for their classroom supplies for a particular school year, usually considered $1200. Expenses, also an estimated amount (usually $2500), refers to a student college fees, spending money, personal costs and transportation.

How it Works

Per the government mandate, the NPC must be located on every college website. It is usually found on the financial aid page and can be completed in less than ten minutes. A little hint, questions referring to 'you' mean the student. Parents may need to locate their W2 forms or tax returns to complete the calculator. Besides the financial questions, there are additional questions for students, asking for their grade point average, standardized test score(s) and other specific academic questions. The calculator is not difficult to complete, but can ask for a plethora of information. A completed calculator will allow the college to gain a snapshot of a family's financial situation and provide a ballpark figure of the real cost of attendance.


When a family completes the NPC, there will be four types of discounts used to compute the real cost of attendance. Scholarships are awarded for student merit. These can be because of a student's grade point average and/or ACT/SAT test score. Perhaps a student is being rewarded for other achievements,  such as a fine art (art, theatre, or music) or athletics. Students can also receive a grant. These can be from the federal government based upon their financial need, or from the academic institution themselves. Scholarships and grants do not need to be repaid. A student may also receive a discount for the Federal Work-Study program. Here, students are paid to work on campus in return for a portion of their tuition. Examples of some positions are assisting in the admissions office, school cafeteria, or athletic facilities. Lastly, colleges will offer federal or school based loans to students. Click here to read a previous blog post regarding financial aid.

If you would like to learn more about the Net Price Calculator, the cost of a college education, or anything else, contact us.