Accepting applications for 9th and 10th graders. Limited availability for 11th graders.

 
College consultant Andy Lockwood gives a brief tour of how financial aid works, including:
 
*Need-based aid
 
* Merit aid
 
* "Tax Scholarships" for high income business owners
 
The discussion included common mistakes to avoid on the FAFSA and CSS Profile, what are the differences between the FAFSA and CSS Profile, pending financial aid changes for divorced families deadlines to file, what happens if you make a mistake on your FAFSA or another financial aid application, what if you don't qualify for financial aid, how to negotiate or appeal for more financial aid, more.
 
For more information, see How to Negotiate Your Crappy Financial Aid or Merit Aid Award on Amazon or visit LockwoodCollegePrep.com
 
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Why Some Kids Get In While Others Get "Dinged"

A sampling of recent questions and comments from parents of high school seniors:

Have you ever seen it THIS bad?

Our guidance counselor said [name of high school] is having the worst year EVER with colleges and doesn't know why! It's so unfair!

[So and so] had lower grades and SATs than my daughter but he got in and she didn't!

Here's the thing...

I hear these comments EVERY year!

Sure, when you look at raw stats, out of context like the number of applications colleges receive, you might get a lump in your throat, pit in your stomach and experience flop sweat.

But most of these symptoms are treatable and even preventable, at least when you consult with Dr. Lockwood, Fake MD.*

Here are a few of my diagnostic thoughts (not intended as medical advice. Consult a health professional if you experience swelling, nausea or persistent diarrhea from this letter):

One reason for the increase in applications is NOT because there are more kids applying to college. It's because there are...

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High GPA, Low SAT or ACT

Hi GPA, Low SAT/ACT
 
Even though more than a thousand colleges let you apply to them without submitting your SAT or ACT, you should be aware of a dirty little secret about admissions officers:
 
They'd PREFER to see standardized test scores!
 
Why?
 
Because, despite their flaws, the SAT and ACT are still helpful predictors of how well a student will do in college.
 
Before I continue, understand that I'm not here to defend either the College Board or the ACT. I'm well aware of the biases that affect kids' scores, especially financial means to take test prep or hire expensive tutors.
 
Side bar: I'm also old enough to remember the Party Line spoken by the College Board for years: that the SAT was so fair that there was zero advantage to studying for it or hiring a tutor!
 
Then one day they partnered with Khan Academy to provide classes and tutoring.
 
Weird.
 
Anyhoo, one of the most common...
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NYU's Eggsitential Crisis

Early this week the Wall Street Journal "exposed" New York University as being THE WORST college when it comes to financial aid generosity.

The piece painted a pretty bleak picture, pointing out that, for a college with an endowment north of 1 Billion, NYU ranked 1st in the ignominious category of parent loan (PLUS) debt per family and other related areas.

The article featured a grad student, a woman, who sold her eggs in order to pay for tuition.  Twice!

(No word on whether the eggs would receive favorable legacy status once fertilized into college applicants in the indeterminate future.)

We in the college advising biz have known NYU to be, again, THE WORST, stingiest college known to mankind for years, so this article was less than a surprise.

I've witnessed parents and kids tempted -- and sometime succumbing to that temptation despite my best efforts -- to blow 80K per year for a theater education at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts.

Three of my four kiddos did or do...

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How to Get Out of Early Decision

Encore College Guru Certification Webinar

December is National Early Decision Month, when high school seniors learn whether they got into their top choice, "ED" colleges.

The official party line about how Early Decision works goes a little somethin' like this:

  • Aspiring college student falls in love with THE college that he/she is dying to get into (obviously, the college must be impossible to get into, otherwise, who would be dying to go there?)
  • Aspiring college student submits his application, indicating that he's "going ED"
  • If college admits him, he MUST go

There's only one problem with the above:  

It's false.  Fake news. 

Here's the way things really work with Early Decision, just in case you never hear this from your guidance counselor (more on that below).

First, nothing and nobody can compel you to attend a college, no matter what box you checked on your college application.

Second, the Early Decision agreement is not binding, legally speaking.  In...

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College Applications Up By How Much (and does it matter)?

Apparently college applications as of January are up by 22% compared to last year.

High school seniors are applying to more schools, according to one college consultant (not me, but I'm also seeing the same trend in my anecdotal, micro-universe).

Does that mean that it will be harder to get into college this year? Permit me to make a few comments.

First, more applications does not mean more APPLICANTS applying to college.  The number of kids applying is actually trending down, partially due to predicted demographics, and partially because of the pandemic, economy and outrageous cost of college, which has risen every year since the beginning of time.

(Side prediction:  next year's increase in college costs will again outstrip the current, also outrageous inflation numbers reported this week.)

Second, as the Common App data weenies point out, more applications does not equate to more enrollments.  Colleges will still have to scrap tooth and nail to convince...

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The surprising (non-politically correct) truth about who gets college aid

Uncategorized Dec 10, 2021
Monday night, a woman at a library workshop asked me a toughie:  "What should we know, that we don't?"

Part of my answer was about financial aid, specifically, how it works...

In real life.

Most parents, guidance counselors, and other "experts" will tell you thusly:  Fill out the FAFSA, and see what FAFSA gives you.  That's your financial aid.

But no, grasshopper, there is SO much more to it..

...and so much that is WRONG about that pithy summary.

Permit me to be less pith with you.

Firsth, approximately 300-400 colleges require more than the FAFSA, if you want financial assistance.  These colleges mandate that you complete a CSS Profile too.

The main difference between the FAFSA and the dreaded CSS Profile is that the FAFSA is currently approximately 108 questions. But The Profile is between 200-300 questions, depending on the colleges you apply to.  It's no walk in the park, it's more like a root canal without novocaine.

Secondth, you don't "get" anything from...
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Missing from Today's WSJ Article on Student Loans

Today's Wall Street Journal ran another bleak piece about student loans spiraling out of control.  I've seen the same article for years, only the numbers change (they increase, obviously).

This morning's dispatch covered PLUS loans, which allow parents to borrow the entire cost of attendance at a given college, with very "light" underwriting, to say the least.

I won't lie, the stats are pretty depressing:  1.6 Bill in debt outstanding, and growing.

Defaults, credit issues and no relief in sight from Congress, apparently.  

And, sadly. zero incentives for colleges to cut their own costs, because they're getting paid from loan proceeds that gush into their coffers from eager parents, early and often.

But the WSJ leaves out an angle that's important to discuss:  borrowers' decisions to take on all this debt.

The piece mentioned one guy who graduated Georgetown Law, he owes $318,000 and works in a homeless shelter. I'm pretty sure he's not making...

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How to Play the College Decision Waiting Game

I've gotten a fair amount of "what do we do now?" types of questions from clients, so I figured you might want to know how I answer them.

Meaning, kids have worked their tushes off all summer and fall on applications, essays and so forth, and finished up a few weeks or months ago.  

It feels like they should be doing SOMETHING!  

But the truth is, they're done.

Now it's time to wait, until "mid-December" or "late December" (gee, thanks for the certainty, admissions peeps).

is there anything to do other than sit around with your thumb up your you-know-what?

Of course.  Here are a few tips, off the top of the ol' noggin:

  • Continue to get great grades.  (Yes, that may seem like a Captain Obvious statement, but the first half of senior year of high school is tough, Senioritis can happen after acceptances come in. Not now. But ONLY mild, Omicron-esque cases are permitted!
  • Send in them grades!  Assuming you did well in the first quarter, have your guidance...
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What if you get 'dinged" by your Dream School?

Nobody likes to be told "Um, no. Not you." but this is the time of year for Early Denial.

Countless college applicants will be told that they didn't get into the college they "ED'd" to.

Fun?  Nope.

Does it matter?  Highly doubtful.

Typically, this time of year you'll see articles about famous, successful people who didn't get into their top choice colleges (Tina Fey, Warren Buffet, Antonin Scalia - how's that for an eclectic threesome?). The point of these articles is that the world didn't end for these rejectees, and neither should it end for this year's batch of college applicants.

I wrote about this briefly in my "snail mail" client newsletter, and make these comments annually because I think they're worth repeating.  I tell all of my private 1:1 college advising students words the effect of

"You will be successful in life no matter where you go to college, because of your work ethic, intelligence and interpersonal skills.  There is no correlation between where you...

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