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Financial Information and Scholarship Websites

Financial Information

FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid portal, provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

FAFSA4caster is a college cost forecasting tool that estimates your eligibility for federal student aid.

StudentAid.gov has resources for learning about federal student aid, how to apply using the FAFSA, and get information on repaying student loans.

A video that talks about what to expect when your federal student loan enters repayment.

FinAid! – The SmartStudent Guide to Financial Aid is a free resource for information, advice and tools about student financial aid, college scholarships and education loans.

CSS Profile – the financial aid application service of the College Board (required by some colleges in order to apply for financial aid).

The College Board’s Net Price Calculator allows you to estimate your net price to attend a specific college.

 

Scholarships

SchoolSoup scholarship database

FastWEB scholarship database.

Chegg scholarship database.

CollegeXpress offers college search tools, a scholarship database, lists and rankings, and online articles.

Scholly –  an easy way to find scholarships for high school seniors, current undergraduates, and graduate students.

 

How to Increase Aid from Colleges

Congratulations, the hard part is over. Your child has run the gauntlet of high school, filled out college applications, and has been offered admission to a college. Can you afford their top choice colleges?

Many schools – especially private ones – can offer substantial financial and merit aid packages, and may be able to make adjustments after the fact if families simply ask.

It’s worth your time to reach out to admissions and financial aid offices. You may be surprised at just how many colleges will try to incentivize a student to enroll with a few extra thousand dollars if that’s the only barrier to entry for that family.

Schools may award additional aid when families present new information (like updated test scores or current high school grades) or may make adjustments to need-based aid when a family’s income or employment situation changes.

Here are some tips to consider when asking for additional aid.

  1.  Don’t deposit right away. Once you make an enrollment deposit, that school assumes your student is coming for the fall and doesn’t have a lot of motivation to continue to try and “yield” them. The national deposit deadline is May 1, and some schools even have an internal grace period after that date. There’s usually no need to deposit before May 1 and when a college is “short” on deposits, the closer they get to May 1 the more pressure they feel to “make their class.” Use depositing as leverage!
  2.  Get in touch with the right office! Financial aid may have nothing to do with scholarship and only work on need-based aid packages. Similarly, the admissions may have nothing to do with departmental aid and only deal with scholarship. Try to understand that the college is like a hand and the various administrative offices are like fingers – they can move independently of one another or in unison. Get the lay of the land and find out which office you need to contact to discuss the various pieces of your student’s aid package. Admissions may be able to guarantee an additional several thousand dollars per year in scholarship, and if there were circumstances that were not considered when filling out need-based aid paperwork, the financial aid office may be able to offer additional grant funds. It pays to call around.
  3.  You’re not buying a house, you’re investing in an education for your student. Don’t treat it like a negotiation! Ask for a “reassessment” or “reconsideration” of the student’s aid package, but only AFTER acknowledging and appreciating any aid that was previously awarded. Again, be prepared to submit additional information, usually from a third party. Did you have a change in your family’s expenses? Job loss? Medical bills? Pay cut? That may inform the route you take and which office can help.
  4.  Be realistic. If your student didn’t qualify for scholarship or need-based aid at all, the admissions office may not be able to offer any after the fact. Similarly, if they qualified for a lower-tier award, they may not be able to package them at a top-tier scholarship level. Asking for additional aid in the $1,000 – $5,000 range will likely yield better results than asking for an additional $20,000. Most colleges package students with aid expecting families to be able to contribute, even if it’s just a little bit. Asking for a “full ride” when your student hasn’t earned it likely isn’t going to happen.
  5.  Show them another offer. It’s OK to tell colleges that your student has options. Colleges may be able to match the award offer from another institution, but the key here is to present offers from similar institutions. A college likely isn’t going to “match down” to another institution – meaning, a top-tier school probably has no motivation to match an offer from a less-competitive institution. Your student might be a stellar admit at a school with a high admit rate and weak rankings, but middle of the road at a premier institution. They’re different institutions. That’s why they award different aid amounts in the first place.

Ultimately, it’s up to you and your student to reach out and ask for additional aid if you need it. Be prepared and make a strong case when asking for help!

How to help kids succeed on the SAT

Published by The Chesapeake Family Magazine
By Katie Riley

Last year more than 1.6 million high school students took the SAT, and many hope tutoring will boost their score. But the question is, what type of tutoring is best and is it affordable?

“I’ve had mixed results with SAT prep courses because it really depends on the motivation of the student and which type of tutoring program they choose,” says Cori Dykman, owner of Annapolis College Counseling, a service that helps prepare and guide students through the college process.

Traditional classes like Princeton Review and Kaplan offer several multi-week courses at dozens of area locations, but the class doesn’t come cheap. Course fees start at around $500.

In an effort to make test preparation available to everyone, the College Board recently partnered with Khan Academy to provide free, targeted test prep for students online. The Khan Academy program provides detailed assessments and dozens of sample tests and exercises. It also directs students to an extensive library of video tutorials based on a student’s test results and weaknesses.

“Khan Academy is excellent,” Dykman says. “It’s free and offers great resources. I always tell my students to start there and then maybe consider a private tutoring option after that.”

Private online tutoring is an option that is gaining popularity due to its convenience and personalized service. Companies like Applerouth match students with one-on-one online tutors based on interviews, academic strengths and weaknesses, and test results.

Julia Drooff, a senior at Broadneck High School, began using Applerouth during her junior year after a disappointing score on her SAT subject test.

“I knew that if the SATs were anything like [the subject test], then I would not do well,” Drooff says. Her older sister had already used Applerouth and experienced considerable improvements.

“They matched me up with an amazing tutor who helped me get to the root of my testing anxiety,” Drooff says. She worked with the tutor monthly for a year and half, taking practice tests and attending online tutoring sessions.

“I developed a personal relationship with my tutor, and we would text regularly. Her encouragement did wonders for my confidence,” Drooff says, noting that she saw a significant increase in her scores and was recently accepted by her first choice college.

Whether students choose Khan Academy, traditional courses or private tutoring, experts agree that the best way to prepare is simply through practice.

“The most helpful method out there is to take practice tests,” Dykman says. “Sitting and focusing for three to four hours is exhausting for any student, and practice tests can help with timing, directions and knowing what questions to expect. I tell students to never go into an exam blind. The practice is invaluable.”

Honors Programs Have Real Benefits

Many colleges and universities throughout the U.S have Honors Colleges or Honors Programs that are worth investigating. Such programs offer advantages to students that are in the top tier of the college’s applicants. Honors programs may have the best professors, smaller classes, early registration, better housing, more school events, and unique classes, and a cohort of like-minded students, all at the same cost of the school’s normal tuition. Actually numerous colleges give significant merit aid to attract these accomplished students to the school and program.

Being one of the top students at a college can be very beneficial not only financially, but also academically and personally, as more opportunities are available to them for field trips, internships, study abroad, research with professors, and mentorships. In many cases it is worth investigating what is offered, and what the criteria is for admission into these selective programs.

In order to be eligible for these advantages, one needs strong grades and test scores. Some schools require a separate and early application to qualify, but many do not. Since these programs are limited in size it is advantageous to apply early.

For instance University of Maryland has an honors college and offers multiple honors programs such as Honors Humanities, Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Living-Learning Programs, University Honors, Gemstone, ACES – Cybersecurity, Design Cultures & Creativity, Integrated Life Sciences, and Departmental & College Honors Programs.   (Learn more from the below links). Beyond the academic perks, being a part of a more specialized program makes this very large university feel a bit smaller. Be aware that it does require an early application for consideration.

George Washington University has an Honors Program, but has other alternatives also. They offered one of my students $80,000 in merit scholarship aid as well as the opportunity to participate in a Women’s Leadership Program in which students attend symposiums, special classes, and participate in events during which they meet prominent women in different careers.

As you tour, ask colleges if these programs are available, and about the benefits and criteria for their students. Some schools also schedule Honors College information sessions that students can attend during a campus visit.

You can find valuable information about Public Honors Colleges at public university honors, but also look at private college programs through Google.

 

Maryland 

Salisbury University

Towson University

University of Maryland Baltimore College

University of Maryland

 

Washington, D.C.

American University

Catholic University

Georgetown University

George Washington University

 

Virginia

Christopher Newport University

College of William and Mary

George Mason University

James Madison University

University of Virginia

Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Tech

 

 

Tune in for My Webinar on Merit Aid

You can now listen to the webinar in the video section of this website.

How to Maximize Your Chances for Merit Aid

Presented by Applerouth Tutoring Services and Annapolis College Consulting

Merit aid can often create game-changing outcomes for students applying to college; yet many families are unsure of how to build merit scholarships into their overall college planning process. Applerouth Tutoring Services invites you to join Cori Dykman, of Annapolis College Consulting, for a free expert webinar that will help families understand the often overlooked and sometimes overwhelming process of applying for merit scholarships. Based on Cori’s first-hand experience helping students afford the colleges of their dreams, this presentation will cover:

  • The basics: what is merit aid, where is it offered and in what amounts?
  • The strategy: a discussion of steps students can take to stand out in the               admissions process and enhance their merit aid potential.
  • The big picture: an understanding of the process and how to approach it.

The optimal merit aid search starts early. High school families in all grades are welcome, especially 9th through 11th grade families.

Wednesday, November 11th at 7:00pm

About the Speaker: Cori Dykman

Cori Dykman is an educational consultant who relates exceptionally well to teens and understands adolescent and parental issues. Her warm, tailored approach seems to consistently make the difference for the students that she partners with. During last year’s admissions cycle, her students received one million dollars in merit aid. Cori is a professional member of IECA (Independent Educational Consultants Association) where she stays updated on the constantly changing and nuanced college process.

www.annapoliscollegeconsulting.com  annapoliscollegeconsulting@gmail.com                                                                                          www.applerouth.com

info@applerouth.com

woman filling out form

Should You Fill Out the FAFSA?

Should you fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)? Many experts say yes, because money is available and having filed it initially gives you more options.

Most Colleges only require that you fill out the FAFSA to qualify for financial aid, but some also require the CSS Profile.

The form is filled out online at:  httpss://fafsa.ed.gov.  

Some great reasons to fill out the FASFA

  1. Your student may qualify for aid, and may receive it from an institution (although every situation is unique).
  2. Some internal school scholarships are predicated on having filled out the FAFSA.
  3. It allows your child to take out a Stafford loan, which is low interest, and gives your student a stake in this expensive endeavor.
  4. If you have more children that will be going to college while this student is, your chances of receiving aid in the following years is much higher.

Is filling out the FAFSA difficult?

No – the Obama administration has had it streamlined significantly so it should take about 30 minutes.

What do you need before filling it out?

  1. A pin number that you should put into a safe, accessible place.
  2. Your most recent tax return. It’s important to fill out the FAFSA as early as possible in after October 1st.
  3. Almost every College has different deadlines by which your FAFSA information needs to be filed in order for you to get the available money. Check the dates by going to each college’s website, or just fill it out by January 1st and be ahead of the game.
  4.  List every school that your student wants to apply to in alphabetical order. This has been a big controversy lately, as some colleges decide how much money to give you based on where they are ranked by your student. Alphabetizing the list prevents this.

Websites that you might find helpful:

www.fafsa.ed.gov – Main website. Videos available on the site about how to fill it out.

www.studentaid.ed.gov  – Different types of aid available to students. How to repay your loans, etc.

www.pin.ed.gov – Pin website. Write it down and keep it somewhere handy.

Respond promptly to any additional requests for information, so that you get processed in the first wave of applicants.

Good Luck!