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More FAFSA Fails [LIVE]

Good morning!

We're hitting the airwaves this morning -- 10:00am EST --  for College Coffee Talk, our live show about college admissions and financial aid news that you can use!  

Pearl is away on special assignment, so I will do my best to pick up the slack. Today's show topics:

Oddball FAFSA fails and a new grounds for appealing your award. Plus, what's the deal with the parent "Brag Sheet?"

Tune In!


Grab a cup of joe and I'll see you at 10am EST (recorded if you can't make it)

- Andy Lockwood

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Deadly Dastardly College Prep Mistakes

I'm going negative with this email.  Apologies in advance.

I just tweaked my presentation for tonight's live, local (not live streamed) presentation I'm running at the Bryant Library in Roslyn NY.  Most of the material, as it turns out, is about mistakes.  Easily avoidable, self-sabotaging mistakes. 

Some mistakes are of the commission variety -- things you affirmatively do -- that hurt odds of college acceptance or merit scholarships. 

Some are mistakes of OMISSION, meaning things you do NOT do, but should.

If you're local to the Long Island area, and you want to avoid costly errors that can severely impact your/your children's chances of getting into competitive colleges... well as gaffes that could hurt or eliminate your ability to get merit aid or financial aid, then tonight is a terrific, unprecedented opportunity to learn up on all this stuff -- for free --- for reelz...

...that you definitely will NOT ever, never ever hear a...

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A Surprise 154K FAFSA Penalty

From the FAFSA Sh*t Storm Files:

Over coffee early this morning, Pearl told me a shocking story, one that we've experienced a few times already this year.  Let me pass it along to you as a cautionary tale:  it goes a little sumthin' like this:

Family files FAFSA.  Family hears back from college financial aid office. 

Message:  no soup for you.  Pay full price.

But here's the thing...

On a courtesy call with a financial aid office, the officer reveals that the FAFSA indicated that the family's income was more than $400,000.

But the family's actual income, filed with the IRS for 2022:  $250,000 and change!

Why the 150K+ artificial penalty?

Just another glitch!  Too bad, so sad.

Apparently 10% of all FAFSAs filed this year have inflated family's income, wiping out millions of potential eligibility.  

This glitch is, of course, part of the FAFSA "simplification," designed to streamline the process.  Nice job, guys.

The most...

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Groveling Time

act tutor fafsa sat tutor Apr 07, 2024

Tutoring | Local Workshop

**No College Coffee Talk this morning:  I'm on the road, depositing my daughter back in college after her break (public transportation is beneath her, apparently**

Well, it's that time of year when most colleges are issuing estimated financial aid awards. Many parents are staring at these offers and wondering, "Where's the beef?"

Here are the top three categories of appeal (I call it "negotiating", but that's definitely NOT the term used by financial aid officers).  Note:  no matter what your argument is, you must present new information that the college didn't have, previously. 

1. Drop in income.   Financial aid eligibility is heavily dependent on income. But that income is from two years ago.  Example:  if you have a Class of 2024 student, your 2022 Adjusted Gross Income is the most heavily weighted factor.  But if your income dropped in 2023, maybe because of a layoff, or your business income...

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The "Secret" to Getting Into a Top College

Uncategorized Apr 04, 2024

Roslyn Workshop


This past Tuesday I was back to back on client calls, especially with Class of 2024 students, bragging about their college acceptances.  That's fun!

But they don't all go that way, unfortunately.  Part of the job of college advisor involves consoling and doing post-mortems on "what went wrong."  

But here's the thing...

Just because someone doesn't get into a particular college doesn't mean that something "went wrong."  Even if other, supposedly lesser-qualified students managed to get accepted to the same college.

It's never One Thing that gets a child rejected, or admitted, even though our tendency as humans is to attempt to find an obvious answer, whether or not based on actual data, instead of feelings.

I'm not writing this note to suggest that we change our way of thinking, or wiring.  This pattern recognition trait is probably what got us out of the Serengeti and to the top of the heap of the animal kingdom, so who am I to...

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More College Craziness

Uncategorized Apr 02, 2024

Tutoring | Roslyn Workshop

Partially in tribute to the late Richard Lewis, I'm dubbing this year's college application cycle the College Year From Hell.

Things have been stressful and crazy for the 21+ years I've been in college advising, and probably longer, but this year takes the cake.  

Yesterday, the Department of Edu-macation announced that it "discovered"yet another glitch on the brand spanking new "simplified" FAFSA.  This one affects 330,000 financial aid applicants. 

Gee, pretty soon we'll be talking real numbers!

5% of the 6.6 million FAFSAs contain errors that caused reductions in eligibility for aid.

10% had errors that mistakenly INCREASED eligibility for aid.

The FAFSA has had errors relating to calculating assets, and problems importing income from tax returns filed with the IRS.

Other than that, things are going pretty smoothly!

On the college acceptance side, I'm seeing clients getting into Ivy and near Ivies, as well as slam-dunk...

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Harvard: "Safety School?"

op of the morning!

We're hitting the airwaves in few moments -- 10:00am EST --  for College Coffee Talk, our live show about college admissions and financial aid news that you can use!  

Here's what's on tap for today:

The FAFSApocalypse:  signs of relief?

Harvard:  Safety School?

The First 100K per year college

More - we'll be live and chatting away with you if you have any "burning" questions you need!

Here's where to join me, Pearl and Zuck on our Facebook page:



Grab a cup of joe and we'll see you at 10am EST (recorded if you can't make it)

- Andy Lockwood

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The 100K per year college?

12 College Application Tips Webinar 

Today I read how Vanderbilt University is apparently a few bucks shy of being the first college to cost $100,000 per year, all in (tuition, room and board, fees).  Officially.

Unofficially, this happened a few years ago, if you count unofficial expenses, such as Ubers, reasonable travel expenses, beer money, Door Dash etc. that kids spend Ma and Pa's money on (note to my three college kids:  there's nothing wrong with peanut butter sandwiches once in a while).

Like the college admissions process, there's no apparent rhyme or reason to a lot of this process.  Why should a non-Ivy college in Tennessee run you more out of pocket than an Ivy League school located in insanely high cost of living Manhattan?

I'm sure someone from Vanderbilt could explain that, but they'd be twisting themselves into knots to do so as far as I'm concerned.

Incidentally, it's not just Vandy that's pushing the 100K envelope:  it's virtually all...

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The Latest SAT Scam

Uncategorized Mar 26, 2024

12 College Application Tips Webinar 

It's been quite a stretch for recent SAT-related scams.  Last week's was about so-called "free" prep courses.

This week:  a "new" story about kids at top private, New York City high schools getting extra time on the SAT for newly-discovered disabilities that popped up just in time for the standardized tests.  

What a coincidence!

Thing is, this isn't new. 

After the whole Operation Varsity Blues/Felicity/Lori scandal broke in 2019, numerous stories  broke out about parents bending or breaking rules to give their kids an edge in college admissions.  The Wall Street Journal wrote how 80% of students in the Newton, Massachusetts school system received extra time accommodations on the SAT and ACT.  (I graduated from Newton North in1986.Tiger Pride!) 

So here we are again, five years later.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

If kids are able to...

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New: 12 College Application Tips

12 College Application Tips Webinar

We're scant days away from the "final" college acceptances, denials and waitlists for this year's crop of college applicants in The Most Confusing College Application Season ever.

Which means that I now have enough intel to share the following tips with Class of 2025 families, in a brand new webinar, Thursday night:

  • How to get into a decent college, today
  • How to construct a strategic and balanced college list
  • How to avoid "Admissions Armageddon"
  • How to answer one of the new supplemental essays about diversity even if you don't feel or look particularly diverse
  • How to earn a 30K per year merit scholarship even if you didn't cure a pandemic or single-handedly build a village in a third world country
  • Test-Optional:  To Opt or Not to Opt (yeah I know that one doesn't quite make sense but you know what I'm trying to say)
  • The New Digital SAT:  right for your kiddo?
  • Merit Scholarships:  how to get 'em without spending six months on stupid...
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