(I know it's morning, just go with it.)
My undead but lovely Countess Pearlticia and I have never done anything like this in our 350+ years together, but right now, you can invite us (careful!) into your corner to help you conquer the FAFSA, CSS Profile and all other of your financial aid demons for 10% off - AND claim a big fat bonus (see below)!
Why are we doing this goofy Halloween sale and gutting our prices?
Apparently First Son Hunter Biden used about $40,000 of his daughter's 529 college savings fund for drugs and prostitutes, according to the IRS.
These are not "Qualified Higher Education" expenses under the Department of Treasury Rules, so I can see why they're miffed.
Here are some other, non-qualified things you can do with your 529:
Proper use of the 529 is pretty much limited to direct college expenses, such as tuition, rent, books and even laptops.
I don't know if Hunter used his 529 for The Laptop. He would not turn my calls.
But here's the thing about the 529...
In financial aid, it PENALIZES, meaning, reduces your eligibility for aid. Pretty weird, right?
One one hand, the government incentivizes you to save for college by creating the 529 plan.
On the other hand, if you actually DO save money this way, you'll receive less financial...
Even though I've been a college advisor for 21+ years, I admit that I still have a hard time understanding how things got so topsy turvy.
It's rare for a week to go by without a parent commenting to me, "When did things get so complicated?"
College costs are out of hand. And college admissions are kah-ray-zee!
There's no rhyme or reason. Yesterday's "Safety Schools" are today's Impossible Dreams.
Case in point: Northeastern University.
When I was a wee lad growing up in the 1980's in the Boston suburbs, Northeastern admitted 90% of its applicants. I hate to say it but here I go:
That's where you went if you couldn't get into any other college!
Last year: 6.7% acceptance rate.
You read that right, it wasn't a typo. How did this happen?
In a word, "marketing." Northeastern gamed the system, specifically US News and World Report, to rush the charts and become...
In less than five hours -- midnight tonight -- we're pulling the plug on our last-minute, 11th hour college applications and essays "express" program, The November Sprint.
That means that, if you want help putting together a (nearly) perfect college application and a set of essays so compelling that admissions officers would (practically) crawl naked over broken glass to BEG your child to attend their college...
...In what looks like to be the most competitive, ridiculous college acceptance cycle ever (did you see last year's acceptance rates? Brace yourself!)...
It's time to make your choice.
Either sign up with us, so that our years of specialized college essay and college advising expertise is in your corner -- expertise that has helped our clients get into every top college you can think of...
...or, let this chance slip through your fingers and "wing it."
You've got an important decision to make. If you chose us, we're ready to go to work for you...
College essays and applications don't have to be complicated.
I'd argue that the simpler, the better. That's how you avoid stress, frustration and confusion.
That's exactly why we designed the November Sprint, an "express" college advising program for high school seniors who are still treading water with their college list, applications and essays.
It's time to dive in and rescue them.
If you (really, your kiddo) are ready to roll up your sleeves and put together a winning application that positions yourself as an "Incomparable Applicant"...
...so that you give yourself the best shot at getting into your Dream School -- and winning tens of thousands of fat, juicy scholarships...
Then it's critically important that you take action right now, before we pull the rug out from under this offer.
It's go time.
- Andy Lockwood
P.S. If you're like most parents we know, you've done a LOT for your kid: spent thousands of dollars and...
Sometimes, I'm not exactly tactful.
Case in point, last week I was sitting with an 11th grader, reviewing his grades, PSATs, extracurricular activities and preliminary, highly selective, college list.
I told him that his record was pretty strong. But..."Don't take this the wrong way," I offered.
When you throw your hat into the ring with thousands of kids with equal or better accomplishments, you become something else:
A Dime a Dozen
Colleges are businesses, they sort, exclude and choose kids for acceptance based on their own internal desires and guidelines, some of which have nothing to do with an applicant's qualifications.
A LOT of which, actually.
So if you agree that colleges are actually in business (despite their non-profit status - hah), you might see why I implore my clients to understand things a bit differently about themselves:
They Too Are in Business
They're in the business of getting into the colleges they want, and to win scholarships.
This August, a Class of 2024 client, Sally (not her real name) told me that she had just met with her guidance counselor. They chatted about her essay topic. The counselor was alarmed.
“Don’t write about death, you’ll depress your admissions officer!”
Sally (still not her real name) and her mom asked me what I thought.
“STUPID!” I offered, tactfully.
"Oh this is fun," Sally's mom said. "I have to come to these meeting more often!"
The back story is that Sally had attended five funerals in a span of four months. Not only is that unusual for a high school senior, it seems like it might be kind of important in her young life, don't you think?
“If this was a big deal, it’s something to consider writing about. Actually, it might be weird to NOT write about it”, quoth the college advisor.
The essay doesn’t have to be about “death,” I said.
I continued, "What if you used the services and eulogies as a lens...
For Frustrated, Worried Class of 2024 Parents...
I'll be quicker than Senator Fetterman's morning grooming routine, because the clock is a-tickin...
If your high school senior son or daughter hasn't made the progress on their essays and applications you hoped for this summer, we might be able to help.
I say "might" because
Here's the scoop -- my team and I are finishing up the application and essay writing process with a bunch of our 2024 private clients. What that means for you is that we have limited capacity to help your kiddo bring the applications and essays over the goal line, if they have October, November and December deadlines.
We call this program The November Sprint, and it's designed exclusively to relieve the blood pressure of moms (and dads) who are ripping out their hair over their kids' looming Early Action, Early Decision and other...
It's back to school time, which also means it's college ranking season.
I think ranking colleges is a pretty silly exercise, but I understand that we humans are wired to compare A to B to C and so forth. And I read them too.
To me, one of the most striking things about the various and sundry rankings is what they leave out. Probably because it is unrankable:
A couple of the Big Rankers measure average salaries, post-graduation, at each college. Fine. But here's what does not go into those rankings, as far as I can tell:
I'm in the midst of three college drop-offs over a grueling,10 day stretch, but wanted to tell you about two financial aid-related stories that caught my bleary eyes over the past couple of days.
The first was about alleged price fixing among elite colleges.
The second related to incredible, nauseating amounts of cash spent by public universities on the most STUPID stuff.
Sadly, neither of these stories is breaking news. This stuff has been going on longer than the 21+ years I've been a college advisor.
The first story was about U Chicago paying $13.5M to settle allegations of financial aid price-fixing. I'm embarrassed to say that I don't quite get the plaintiff's point. According to the summary I read, it looked like the allegation was that U Chicago colluded with 16 colleges, including Brown, Columbia, MIT and Duke.
But the collusion was not about U Chicago sharing their applicants' files and coming up with identical awards, they way the...