Considering College Tuition when Building Your List
Admissions Expert and College Match Team Advisor Brynlee gives tips on how to navigate college costs and financial aid considerations when building your college list.
2022-02-10 Considering College Tuition When Building Your List
[00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar on considering college tuition when building your lists. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation, then answer your questions in a live Q and a on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q and a tab.
Now let’s meet our panelists. Hello everybody. My name is Brynlee Emery. I’m a senior advisor here with CollegeAdvisor. Um, I got my undergrad at Georgetown university and then got my masters in history and in library and information science at the university of Illinois at Urbana champagne. Um, I work full time in digital asset management and have been with CollegeAdvisor for the last two years and in college advising for a little over four years.
Great. So first we’re going to start off with a quick poll, just to figure out where everyone is at. So what grade are you [00:01:00] in? Uh, eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th, or other. And other can be if you’re a parent transfer student, um, taking a gap year or anything else. And while we wait for those answers to come in, um, Brynlee, can you tell us a little bit about your personal admissions experience?
Yeah. Um, so I grew up in Arizona, um, and a lot of people from my school went to just kind of a local state universities. Um, I knew that I wanted to go somewhere else. I don’t like the heat too much. Um, so I, you know, I’m the oldest in my family. So I didn’t have a whole lot of like direction from like siblings or anything.
Um, but I really relied on my English teacher who was wonderful. And, uh, she really helped with kind of writing my essays and helping me think about schools that I might, um, be interested in other places in the country. Um, and so I, um, applied to a couple [00:02:00] of schools early, it got deferred, um, and didn’t have a huge school list.
I think I ended up getting into, I think three of my six schools, um, got on the wait list for one and then Def, uh, denied for the other two, um, was absolutely thrilled to end up at Georgetown, um, and loved my experience. Great. Um, so it’s looking like we have 0%, eighth graders, 4% ninth graders, 29%, 10th graders, 54% 11th graders, which makes up the majority 4% 12th graders and 8% other, and you can control the sides.
Okay. Perfect. Okay. So, um, you’re all here because you are interested in college lists and college tuition and all of that fun stuff. Um, it’s great that a lot of you are juniors. Um, this is the perfect time to start thinking about, you know, working on a college list and thinking about family finances and all of [00:03:00] that.
But for those of you who are younger, um, it is absolutely not too early to start thinking about this as well. Um, so here at college advisor, I lead the college list team, um, which is a group of advisors who are especially trained to think about all of the different things that might go into college list building, and they can support the full-time advisors in kind of doing that work with students.
Um, so I, I work with a lot of students that, uh, have these questions and. If you are, if you’re a junior and it’s the spring of your junior year, this is absolutely like start doing this now. Um, it’s great to have this kind of, you know, not necessarily figured out completely, but have at least a good idea of what you’re looking at, um, by like the end of your spring semester, so that you can really focus the summer on writing essays and all the other pieces of college applications that will, will be a little bit more [00:04:00] pressing then.
Um, but if you’re a sophomore or a freshman or, you know, even if any eighth graders watch this later, um, start thinking about kind of. What your preferences might be like, what, what locations do you want to end up in? What majors do you want to study? Um, think about like clubs or extracurriculars that you really enjoy in high school that you might want to pursue at the college level.
Um, really just thinking about those, those preferences and that idea of what you’re looking for will really help you down the road when it comes to actually coming up with schools that will fit that list. Um, now juniors, of course, uh, now’s the time to start thinking of specific schools. Um, so at this point I recommend looking at, you know, 15 to 20 schools at this point in the year, you can do a little more, a little less, if you.
You know, if that fits your situation better. Um, but that way you have enough schools to explore, but, and you’re not going to apply to that [00:05:00] many probably. Um, but you can start to look more in depth at things like, um, like your chances based on your test scores and grades and extracurriculars and things like that, or, or things like college tuition, like we’re going to be talking about here.
Um, so if you are with CollegeAdvisor, I definitely want to plug our college list team. You can talk to your primary advisor about that. Um, but you know, for everybody else, we have a lot of other great resources that you can use. Okay. So when thinking about a college list at whatever stage of the process you’re in, um, there’s a few things that I like to have students kind of thinking about in this order.
Um, first of all, you want to go to a school that has the major that you want to study. Um, I had a student in my very first year advising who, um, she was going to be like a technical theater major and we had a bunch of schools on her initial list that we realized pretty quickly didn’t even have that [00:06:00] major.
So those weren’t going to be a good fit for her. Um, if you’re going for one of the more kind of like classic liberal arts majors, like, you know, political science or biology, those are going to be pretty much everywhere. Um, but there might be strengths or weaknesses of various departments. So that’s something to look into as well.
Um, if you’re looking for something a little bit more specialized, um, I know like if you are looking to major in music, There’s a lot of schools that have music major, but it’s obviously going to be a little bit more specialized at certain places, or I don’t know any number of things, um, start thinking about kind of what your academic goals are and what schools can fit those goals.
So second after kind of your academic alignment is thinking about fit. Um, now fit is a little bit complicated, but I usually describe it as finding a school that aligns with your values, your, you know, [00:07:00] kind of the culture and environment that you want to be in. Um, and in terms of like, I guess concrete details.
Uh, that’s more like, you know, schools that have, like, for example, if you really wanted to get involved in like Greek life and you wanted to be in a sorority or fraternity, um, Georgetown wouldn’t be the place to go because they don’t have those if a couple that are kind of like under the radar, but officially there are none.
Um, so that really wouldn’t be a good fit for you. Um, similarly, if you really love to like ski and hike and spend time outdoors, um, you know, going to school in New York city might not be the best choice. Not that you couldn’t do things outdoors, but it would be a little bit more of an effort to do them then.
To do them in Colorado. Um, so think about the kinds of things outside of academics that are important to you. And, um, if you’re, if you’re with us, we can send you a [00:08:00] document that kind of goes through like questions you might want to ask yourself, um, in terms of fit. Um, but you can think of anything from like, you know, location to extracurriculars offered to whether it’s like an all women’s school or like an HBCU, or if it is like a school with a particular religious affiliation, there’s, there’s so many things, um, lots of factors that go into this kind of cultural environmental fit issue.
And that’s why it’s so important to figure out kind of what’s most important to you there. Um, next up kind of on the priorities is to have a school list that is balanced. Um, we, we use the phrases kind of safety match and reach schools, uh, Generally safety schools are where you have, you know, a better than 80% chance of getting in you’re well above the kind of averages for GPA and test scores and all [00:09:00] that.
Um, very often it’s like a state school or something, but can be private as well. Uh, match schools is where you’re very well aligned with the average accepted student and reach schools is where you’re either slightly or a lot below the average accepted student in terms of like academic metrics and, um, extracurriculars and all that.
Or if the school has a very low acceptance rate. Um, so like, you know, Stanford not going to be a match for anyone, it’s a reach for everybody. Um, and so you can work with an advisor to kind of gauge those levels or often school counselors, or sometimes teachers can help to. And then finally, what we’re going to be talking about most today is to be informed about the cost potential financial aid, um, estimated return on investment, which we’ll talk about, um, and, or kind of the value of your degree.
Um, now I say informed and not like, you know, prescribing a particular, [00:10:00] you know, set of like things that you like absolutely must consider or ruling out any type of school, because this is very personal and up to you and your family’s decisions, but there’s a lot of factors to think about. Um, so we will dive right into that.
Um, so as I just said, um, thinking about cost is very personal to you and your family. Um, I always like to advise students that. Like federal and institutional financial aid coming from, like either the federal government or sometimes like the state or sometimes like the school itself. Um, that is not just for people who are living in like abject poverty.
Um, there is a very wide range of incomes, um, and kind of expected family contribution, which is a phrase I’ll get into more detail later, um, where you are eligible for aid, you might not be eligible for all eight or [00:11:00] like getting your, um, tuition, like completely waived, but like you can make it, like your family can make quite a considerable amount of money, like solidly middle-class.
Um, even upper-middle-class sometimes, and still get like at least something. Now, if you are more low income, there are going to be more opportunities for that. Um, and that’s something that, you know, I’d recommend talking to a specialist about, we have a financial aid team here, um, but some things can be like federal Pell grants or, um, sometimes schools will have like, you know, money that is dedicated to like low-income and first-generation students to as much as possible bridge that gap.
Um, and, you know, provide aid for even things that are not tuition, like, you know, textbooks or, um, I know of a program at Georgetown that would like buy like bedding and kind of like basic like dorm furnishings and things for kind of [00:12:00] first gen low income students. So look into programs that are available if that’ll depend a lot on the school and your state and you know where you’re located, but there’s a lot that is available.
Um, And then lastly, which I’ll get more into as well, um, in terms of kind of aid that’s coming from the school itself. Um, sometimes private schools will have what’s called a bigger endowment. Um, that’s like the money that they have from alumni who donate money back to their schools, um, as if they haven’t paid enough.
Um, but, uh, that endowment is often used for financial aid for future students. So sometimes private schools that have a large endowment are able to offer more aid even than like in-state public schools, which are often thought of as like the most economical option. Um, so there’s, there’s no, there’s no hard and fast rules with, um, kind of thinking about cost, I [00:13:00] guess, is what I want to want to express there.
Um, okay. Um, so we, we talked about these other factors, you know, quite a bit, um, Obviously you want to think about costs. It’s usually not a non-issue. Um, but also you want to be thinking about academics, fit and balance. Um, so we can just move on from there. But, um, as I kind of alluded to, there are plenty of other expenses that are associated with going to college besides just tuition.
Um, tuition is going to be the big one. That’s going to be the like, like real dinger of a price. Um, but. A lot more to, um, room and board is usually the next biggest that’s usually, oftentimes that’s just sort of wrapped into your tuition bill. Uh, if you’re staying on campus and you’re eating at like on campus cafeterias and things, um, it’s, it’s the price you pay for living in your room and eating [00:14:00] your meal plan?
Um, maybe laundry too, depending on where you are. Um, there are also often school fees, which why they’re not wrapped into tuition. I don’t know. Um, but sometimes, you know, there’s like a library technology fee or something that goes. The library to, you know, furnished databases or something, or, um, there will be a fee that is built in to give you like a, like a public transportation waiver, basically to ride buses or Metro or whatever you have, um, in your area for free or lower cost.
Um, so those are very school dependent, but they do exist. So think about that health insurance is another one that can come up. Um, next is technology. Most people definitely need a laptop in college, especially in 2022. Um, so if you don’t already have one purchasing that your first year, um, that’s a cost to consider that is something that can be covered [00:15:00] under, like with federal loan money.
Um, so it’s not like you have to do that out of pocket, but it factors into the overall cost, um, textbooks, software, equipment. Um, this is going to be very dependent on the kinds of classes you’re in. Um, When I was an undergrad and taking a lot of humanities classes, I usually had to buy like seven or eight books, but they’re all like, You know, eight to $20 a piece, which wasn’t too terrible compared to classmates in like the sciences where they had, you know, quite large, um, a hundred plus dollar textbooks to buy.
Um, and so that’s, that’s going to be very dependent on kind of the availability of used copies and you know, what your professors recommend and if there’s online versions and all that. But, um, there may, you know, maybe class to class expenses to think about as well, um, travel and transportation. If you’re not living close to home, um, if you want to go home for holidays, you may need to [00:16:00] take a train or bus or fly, uh, depending on how far you are.
Um, and then finally, Dorm furnishings, you might have stuff to bring from home and that’s great. Um, but if it’s, especially, if you know, you’re going to be traveling back and forth a lot, uh, it might not be practical to bring your entire bedding with you every time. Um, just depends on your situation, but, um, you know, that’s, that’s something to factor in as well.
Of course, a lot of these are going to hit hardest kind of that first semester as you’re getting set up. Um, but they’ll kind of hopefully Peter out a little bit over time. Um, so in terms of the different sort of types of schools, you can go to generally speaking, um, they’re these kind of four different types of schools will charge about these rates.
It’s very dependent on what state you’re in. I went with kind of national averages here, but it might be way higher. It might be way [00:17:00] lower where you live. Um, so do some research on your own time as well. Um, but these are the kind of, you know, estimates in tuition prices for, um, community colleges, public in-state universities, public out-of-state universities and private universities that are only considering tuition.
Um, they’re not considering any of those additional costs and they’re also not considering financial aid. So. Like the average person does not pay $60,000 a year to go to a private university. Um, I mean, depending on the university, I guess, um, but that is usually, you know, what they tend to cost, um, and you know, community college, oftentimes there are like really great scholarships for that, where you pay nothing.
Um, and, you know, have a pretty low like barriers to entry for that. Um, I know like, you know, back where my family [00:18:00] lives, there is some program where it’s basically like, if you have like over a 3.0 GPA or something, you have like significant community college, um, like cost reduction. So look at that. If that’s like a, you’re absolutely certain that you do not want to pay a cent for college, but you can also get really great financial aid, other places too.
Um, Okay, so kind of breaking down, like what types of financial aid can I expect from all of these different schools? Um, the more important factor, you know, as opposed to a school being like private or public or in-state or out-of-state is their approach to financial aid. Um, so we, we have kind of two main categories of schools that have like little sub categories as well.
There are need-blind schools where, um, these are schools that do not consider your ability to pay as a consideration when you apply. [00:19:00] Um, so I’ll talk about something called the FAFSA in a second, if you haven’t heard of it, but, um, these schools, uh, there’s, there’s not a, there’s not a ton of them. Um, but you know, uh, probably a couple dozen schools around the country.
Um, they will. Like ask for financial aid information so that they can send that to their financial aid office, but that doesn’t go to the admissions office at all. Um, these are schools that have larger endowments, um, where they are pretty much able to like account for the need of all of their students, like regardless of their financial situation.
So like Harvard is a great example of this. Like they have an absolutely massive endowment. They like if they could pay for everybody to go, if they wanted to, which is a whole other conversation. But, um, you know, these, these schools are schools that do that. Um, there are more it’s, you know, [00:20:00] an easy Google-able list.
Um, but, uh, these, these are the need blind schools. No, the needle where schools have a few more kind of sub categories and. Nita where schools, first of all, are those that do consider your ability to pay when you apply. So it means that they probably can’t afford to pay for like everybody like full price.
Um, but it could just be like a policy preference. Um, but the school considering your need to pay does not mean that they’re not going to give you financial aid. Um, there’s a lot of schools that are considered need aware that also meet the full demonstrated need of your family. Um, so I’ll get to the FAFSA in a second, but say you filled all of that out and you submitted your financial aid paperwork and they estimated that your family could pay like $5,000 a year.
And let’s say it costs $30,000 a year. [00:21:00] If a school has. Committed to meeting full demonstrated need. Then they will give you a package of like loans, grants, scholarships, work study, like all the different types of financial aid you can think of, um, that will make up the difference between that 5,000 and the 30,000 that it costs.
Um, now, if those are mostly loans that might not be too attractive of a package because you have to pay all that back anyway. And, um, student loans can be kind of predatory. So like that’s not, that’s not ideal, but if you have a package that includes some loans, but also like lots of scholarships or grants or opportunities to, um, get like merit aid or something like that, like that can be a much more attractive package that is going to save you a lot of money and might bring that cost of like a private, really expensive university lower than what you’d pay at like an insect.
Um, other schools kind of do something similar [00:22:00] where they commit to meeting like a certain percentage of financial need. Like they’re going to commit to meeting 90% of your financial need. They might meet more, but 90% is all they’re going to guarantee. Um, and they’ve, there’s a whole range of kind of what percentage we’ll guarantee.
But, um, yeah, that’s, that’s kind of the main kind of category here is schools that will guarantee meeting your full demonstrated need, even though they’re need blind or their need aware schools that will meet partial demonstrated need. And then there’s of course, a lot of students that are students schools that, uh, don’t guarantee to meet any level of demonstrated need.
Um, and that again doesn’t mean that they’re not going to offer you any financial aid. It’s probably just going to be a little bit more loan heavy. Um, since these are tend to be schools with smaller endowments, smaller. You know, wealthy alumni basis. Um, and so, you know, they might be able to get you like, you [00:23:00] know, fairly decent loans for being loans, but still loans.
Um, so all of this is something that when you get your kind of financial aid package, that you should talk over with the financial aid office, or if a financial advisor, if you can, um, because this is just kind of a broad overview and not like prescriptive of what you or your family should do, but, um, just to kind of be aware of the types of schools out there.
Um, so speaking of that, um, if you like for, for all you juniors, um, you know, about a year, a little more than a year from now, when you’re getting your results back from very various schools and they come with their financial aid offers, um, Definitely wait to kind of make a decision until you get that financial aid offer.
If cost is important for you. Um, now something that students don’t always realize is you can negotiate the financial aid offers once you receive them. Um, there might not be [00:24:00] a ton of room to move around, um, depending on the school. But, um, like, so the example I always use is like, if you have acceptances to shoe schools that are like fairly similar in their, um, like level of prestige or rank or anything like that, and one gives you a much better financial aid package, but you want to go to the other one a little bit more, you can kind of negotiate those, that financial aid package, because you can say like, look like I want to go to Georgetown, but you gave me $10,000 in Northwestern gave me $30,000, Georgetown and Northwestern, or, you know, Pretty pretty much around the same place in terms of rank and prestige.
So that if, you know, you want to, if you really want to go to Georgetown and they accepted you, so they want you to go there, they might be willing to work with you to kind of meet that. Um, now [00:25:00] the kind of counter example I use is like, you can’t really do that with schools that are, um, like not have the kind of same level of rank.
So like Ohio state is a great school, but if you were like, it’s only gonna cost me, like, you know, $5,000 a year to go there because I’m an in-state student meet me where Ohio state is at Georgetown, Georgetown would be like, well, I mean, like. They’re not really at the same prestige level, they’re a public school.
We’re not like there’s a lot of differences there, but the more similar a school is to the one you really want to go to. The more leverage you have to use that financial aid offer, if it’s better, um, to negotiating a better one, um, you can also, um, oh yes. Thank you, Mackenzie, for noting the kind of early action, uh, regular decision importance with negotiating your financial aid.
Um, but uh, if, if for some reason you [00:26:00] feel like your FAFSA or, you know, another document called the CSS profile, if those aren’t really fit your family situation, or if something changes, you can definitely reach out to the financial aid office and, you know, try and negotiate even without like a competitive offer.
Um, and they may be willing to work with you. It really just kind of depends on the situation, but, um, Don’t feel like you have anything to lose if you want to negotiate for a better offer. Um, and I’m sure we’ve got, you know, more webinars that go into that in more detail. And again, if you’re working with college advisor, we have an awesome financial aid team that is composed entirely of people who like either work or have worked in college financial aid offices.
Um, so they are going to be way more expert at this than me, but, um, like definitely reach out for additional support. You do not have to do financial aid alone. Um, it is very stressful. Um, [00:27:00] anyway, other ways to kind of offset the cost, um, if you get in, but you know, can’t afford to go even after their financial aid offer, um, look into external scholarships.
Sometimes there are a few really big ones that are super competitive. I usually recommend students look for the most local scholarships they can find because those have fewer applicants. And even if you have to apply to a few more of them, you can collect quite a, quite a good scholarship, a bank. Um, but without having to compete in the like, you know, gigantic nationwide ones, um, the one thing to keep in mind there is to make sure that your school doesn’t have a policy where scholarship money is applied towards like your, so sometimes schools will have this policy, which is terrible.
Um, but it exists where if you get scholarship money, it doesn’t apply towards your family’s expected contribution [00:28:00] based on the financial aid package, it takes away institutional scholarships from the financial aid package itself. Um, Georgetown, I know, does this. So, you know, say they gave me $30,000 and I got a $10,000 scholarship.
Um, they would not give me $30,000, then they would say, oh, that’s wonderful. We’ll give you $20,000 now. Um, so keep that in mind, look into kind of what policies the schools on your list have. Um, and you know, there’s, there’s different ways that scholarships are distributed as well. That can make a difference, which I won’t get into here.
But, um, you know, that, that is something to keep in mind. Um, and then finally student loans are, you know, kind of a fact of higher education in 2022. Um, and they’re absolutely not like strictly necessary, but sometimes taking on some is, you know, [00:29:00] you may decide that that is worth it for you. Um, Now ROI is a acronym that I’ve used a couple of times.
Um, and this is called like return on investment and it’s not everything. So don’t base all of your college decisions on this, but there are like calculators online that, um, kind of spit out. Like if I major in XYZ, um, at school ABC, um, what salary can I expect to be making in 10 years? And there’s a whole lot of factors that that does not consider, but, um, if it, if you’re going into something that is known to be lucrative, if you’re going to be like, uh, you know, engineer or something, um, then it might not be like that big of a deal to you to take out a lot of student loans.
Um, if you are going into. You know, something that is still an absolutely great career path, or even just like [00:30:00] has value in the fact of being like educational and exciting and all of that. Like, there’s all kinds of forms of value besides just the money, but, you know, say you want to be a third grade teacher.
Um, I wouldn’t take out a hundred thousand dollars in loans. Um, so think about kind of your career goals and the school you’re going to, and kind of all of these factors when you’re considering, you know, what role you want loans to play in your financial aid package. Um, I also want to say that when you get a financial aid package, you don’t have to accept all of it.
Um, If they, you know, give you some institutional scholarship and a work study and some loans, if you don’t want to have the loans and you would rather like figure out a way to kind of scrape the money together. Um, you can definitely do that. Be aware that the loans that are coming in your financial aid package are often federal, which has a lower interest rate, um, is ultimately a little bit more affordable than like a private student loan.
But if you don’t want to deal with loans at all, you can say no. And [00:31:00] that won’t like erase the rest of your financial aid package. Um, so you, you have a lot of choice. Um, so go into it as informed as you can. Yes. So now we’re going to do another quick poll to see where everyone’s at. So where are you in the application process?
Haven’t started, I’m researching schools. I’m working on my essays. I’m getting my application materials together, or if you’re really lucky, I’m almost done. And while we wait for those responses to roll in, uh, can you tell us a little bit about, um, how long it takes to like really do the research and build a good list?
Because a lot of students do it at the last minute. I know I’ve had that issue with some of my clients, so, yeah. Um, I mean, I usually recommend if you’re working with an advisor spending. At least a week or two in kind of sessions with them talking about those preferences. Um, but in terms of researching [00:32:00] your list, um, if you are starting now, as you should be juniors, um, I would recommend blocking off like, you know, 30, 45, 60 minutes on your calendar every week to just do like some college research and just go through the schools that are on your list and take some notes on things that are exciting to you or interesting, or that you want to you, like, you’d be looking to participate in if you went there.
Um, and that, you know, has a few advantages. One, like taking notes makes it easier to not get lost in the, like all these college websites look the same. Um, and you know, it just kind of getting to be information overload. Second of all it can help you see, like, even within, like, after you’ve done your preferences and things like that, like, what things are you consistently drawn to in different schools?
And third, when you have to write your essays, a very common prompt is why do you want to go here? And if you have some notes from your ex [00:33:00] exploration phase, it’s really easy to go back and say like, well, I want to be like, you know, work in this professor’s lab or I, um, you know, really love this beautiful library.
And I also, um, am so excited about this. The English department. I don’t know whatever it is that is exciting to you. Then you have an easy way to draw from that. Um, so it doesn’t have to take like, you know, a whole semester of doing that, but, um, I’d say like, definitely try and spend a month or two on it, if you can.
Um, and spend the time you need to feel like you really have gotten to know the schools on kind of your, your exploratory list. So you can narrow it down to like your finalist of more like, like eight to 12 schools that you’re actually going to apply to. Um, definitely something to take your time with more than, uh, try and cram in at the last minute.
That is great. Um, [00:34:00] so it’s looking like 13% haven’t started. 71% are researching schools. 6% are working on their essays. 6% are working on the applicant, getting their application materials together. And 3%, the lucky few are almost done.
Yeah, lucky 3%. Okay. So we are almost done with kind of these slides here. Um, I know I have used the acronym FAFSA a couple of times, um, and I’m sure we have, you know, other resources on this as well. Um, so do more research beyond my two minutes talking about this slide, but the FAFSA stands for the free application for federal student aid.
Um, and this is usually required by schools for you to, um, be eligible for. Their institutional aid or like scholarships or anything like that. Um, sometimes it’s not required for merit scholarships, but sometimes it is. And [00:35:00] basically what this is, is it is a kind of online form. It, it walks you through all the steps that uses your family’s tax information.
Um, that’s both yours. If you have a job and that of your parents, um, to run through a bunch of calculations and come out with this number that is called the expected family contribution. Um, and that’s, you know, what I was talking about earlier with like, you know, if your expected family contribution was 5,000 and the school was going to make up, you know, the 25,000 to get to the total price.
Um, that’s, that’s where this comes from is from the FAFSA. Um, so there are a couple of qualifications to be eligible for the FAFSA, um, Us citizenship or legal immigration status is kind of the biggest one, um, high school diploma, or like be very in progress towards a high school diploma or a GED. Um, you have to be enrolled in or accepted to an eligible [00:36:00] degree or certificate program for you.
It’s going to be, you’re applying to these programs. Um, if you are male, then they will have you register with the selective service. Um, and then finally you have to have a social security number, which if you’ve hit the other four things you probably have. Um, uh, and then if, if you like don’t fit one of those for some reason.
Um, but the biggest one is like, if you’re undocumented, um, there are often still a lot of ways to get financial aid that are just not through the FAFSA. Um, that’s. You know, more of an expert than me to explain, but oftentimes there are in-state programs that you can look at, or sometimes schools will have like institutional support for undocumented students.
Um, I know Georgetown does where, you know, people who are undocumented, aren’t able to apply for federal aid, which is a huge barrier to entry. So there’s kind of a dedicated, like we’re gonna, we’re gonna take care of [00:37:00] you fund. Um, so look at the schools that you’re interested in, if that applies to you, um, for everybody else just kind of go to, I think it’s like fafsa.gov.
Um, and you can fill that out and that’ll open up October 1st of your senior year. Um, you do have to fill out the FAFSA again every year. Um, so if you have like a. Oh, that’s really good to know that, uh, they, that sending up for the selective service is no longer required. My sources were outdated. Um, but yeah, that’s, that’s awesome.
Um, so if you were, you’re a barriers to entry all the better. Um, so anyway, you do have to reapply for the FAFSA every year, um, just to, you know, update your family’s financial situation. They use the tax information from like, like the previous calendar year. It’s a little bit confusing, but if you were applying for, [00:38:00] um, like financial aid for the like 20, 22, 20, 23 school year, they would not use your 20, 21 tax information because oftentimes when you’re filling out the FAFSA, like you don’t have it yet.
Um, so they would use your 20, 25 tax information. So it’s, it’s like. Calendar year of like, you’re the beginning of your junior year that they’re going to be using. Um, and yeah, a couple of requirements to maintain access to, you know, federal student aid, but usually not a huge deal. Um, if it is talk to your academic counselor, once you’re in school, um, or the financial aid office as well, and then there’s also another like, process, uh, for some of those more, uh, selective schools, um, it’s called CSS profile.
It’s basically just like a very big FAFSA where they ask a bunch of other, [00:39:00] like very detailed questions. Um, just to kind of get a better sense of the details of your family’s financial situation. Um, I remember when I was filling it out, they asked if my family had a small farm. I was like, no. Um, but you know, They just want a little bit more information, um, so that they both opened on October 1st of your senior year, like I said, um, and something that is really important to keep in mind with these kind of financial aid forms and processes is sometimes schools will have deadlines for financial aid that is different from the application deadline.
Um, so they do it in a few different ways. Um, sometimes it, there is a deadline, like if you want to be considered for financial aid, you need to apply by December 1st. Um, and that’s your whole application and your FAFSA other times they’ll say apply for whatever deadline you want. Um, but we need to have all of your financial aid documents by [00:40:00] February 1st or January 15th or something like that.
Um, Otherwise, like we’re going to allocate the money we have and you’re not going to have anything. Um, so look into kind of what your schools do once you have a more solid school list and keep that in mind when you’re scheduling out, like when you’re going to write what essays, um, because there’s not a whole lot of work around if you miss the priority financial aid deadline, um, probably time to readdress the list in that case, if you know, financial aid is going to be really important for you.
Um, and yes, another good point that the CSS profile is not free. Um, it is run by the college board, which also does like APS and the sat and all of that. Um, you, you can get waivers just like you can get for the fees for those. Um, but yeah, I would recommend talking to your school counselor about that. If that is something that applies.
Okay. Um, [00:41:00] so finally, last slide here. Um, if you, as you’re kind of beginning to think about your school lists and navigating college costs and all of that, um, remember what I said at the beginning, there is no right answer or like one size fits all solution. Um, these things, I mean, really everything about college decisions, but especially costs.
This depends on the, you know, priorities and, um, deal breakers that are present for you and your family. Um, so there’s, there’s going to be trade offs with everything. Um, there’s going to be a lot of different priorities that can’t all exist in the same space, but you and your family can talk about what’s going to work for you.
Um, and if you can, I would recommend getting some additional support if this is like just really stressful and confusing, um, financial planners. Like, this is what they do. Um, they can help give you advice for your family’s specific financial situation. [00:42:00] Um, our financial aid team is also, you know, very well equipped to give more specific advice to you rather than just sort of generally like good things to know.
Um, so again, I know I’ve said it three or four times now, but if you’re working with us, definitely talk to your advisor about getting an appointment set up with a financial aid team because they’re fantastic. Um, next consider that return on investment, but only is one part of the equation, not the whole equation.
Um, as I said before, look at those local scholarships, not just the big ones that you’ve heard of, um, remember that the school’s sticker price is not necessarily the same as the cost to you. Um, if you, you know, you’re a junior now and like all of this. Simultaneously far away and also coming up really fast.
Most schools have a tool on their websites called a like, like estimated cost calculator or financial aid calculator or something like that. [00:43:00] If you just Google like, you know, school name and financial aid calculator, it should come up. Um, but they will take in information. Um, but you can get like from your parents’ tax return or your tax return or something, and they’ll spit out a number that is not guaranteed to be the total cost to you after financial aid.
But, um, can give you an idea of what your, you know, sticker price might look like. Um, So that could be a helpful tool, um, net price calculators, but what they’re usually called, if I knew it was like at the tip of my tongue. Um, but yes, so use those, um, and definitely ask for help. This is a big decision. And especially if you’re considering loans, it can be something that affects you well beyond your college years.
And that’s not to say that like, you know, loans are always the worst choice. Um, and it’s, it’s just something to consider as [00:44:00] you’re thinking about kind of your future and your career and life in and after college. Um, so the more information you have, the more, you know, areas of support you have. The better off you’re going to be.
Um, but definitely don’t hesitate to reach out for additional help for, from your advisor or school counselor, or, you know, a financial planner for your family or anybody else that can support you through this. Cause it, it can be tough.
Okay. So that is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. I hope you found this information helpful and remember that you can download the slide from the link in the handouts tab, moving on to the live Q and a I’ll read through your questions you submitted in the Q and a tab and read them aloud before our panelists gives you an answer as a heads-up.
If your Q and a tab, isn’t letting you submit questions, just make sure that you joined the webinar through the custom links into your email and not from the webinar landing page also knows the website, um, just because it won’t give you all the peaches of [00:45:00] big marker. Uh, so yeah, and now we can get started.
So our first question is, are you saying that need-blind colleges give scholarships regardless of parents. That’s a great question. Um, so no, um, if your family is like, if you’re bill gates is kid, you’re not going to get a scholarship to Harvard because you can definitely afford to go there, but they’re just not going to consider the fact that you can afford to go there or not afford to go there as a like factor in your admission.
Um, so it’s not that like, you know, everybody just gets a blanket scholarship, but it’s more for, um, like students who are lower income or like couldn’t afford to pay the sticker price. They’re not going to be penalized for, you know, not being bill gates as kid. Um, if you, if your family makes, you know, if your family’s [00:46:00] expected contribution on the FAFSA is like more or the same as the total costs.
Like going to school, including room and board and you know, fees and all of that. You’re not going to get financial aid because that’s not what it’s there for. Um, but like, yeah. Um, so yeah, need-blind is not the same as scholarships for everybody. Um, to my knowledge, I don’t think that exists in the United States, but, um, it’s, it’s just that your, your financial situation is not a factor in admissions.
A lot of students that I’ve spoken with say that their word, because, um, with, um, Nita where schools, um, they’re worried that their chances of admissions will get like cut, just because they can’t pay the sticker price and families that can pay the whole cause have a better chance [00:47:00] of admissions, but that isn’t always the case.
Yeah. Nita where schools can still give really great financial aid. And yeah, so don’t, don’t worry too, too much about that, unless they’re like, we’re need aware and we’re not guaranteeing any of your demonstrated, you know, demonstrated family need. Um, that would be a little bit more like, all right, well think carefully.
Um, but Nita where schools alone, like they’re not like predatory or anything. Um, definitely still feel free to apply, uh, going on to the next question. This is from our pre panel, what are the best options for students that don’t qualify for financial aid or as much financial aid as they need, but, um, they’re still unable to, um, afford college out of pocket.
Yeah. Um, so I mean, I think. College, there is a little bit general. Um, if [00:48:00] you like, you know, can’t afford to go to a specific school. Of course you can look into additional scholarships or things like that. Um, if it’s just that you can’t afford college generally, um, I would like if that’s like an income thing, um, reconsider your financial aid, like maybe like get that like appealed or something, maybe look into in-state programs that can, you know, offer additional public aid, um, things like that.
Um, if it’s more like you’re sort of hitting that like really rough middle ground, um, you know, that I was in, when I was in college to where, like you made enough money that you didn’t get a ton of financial aid, but like you did not make enough money that you could pay like $70,000 a year out of pocket with no consequence.
Um, then. In that case, you have a few options you can consider. Of course, like, you know, [00:49:00] in-state public schools tend to be a really good deal. Um, especially if you have very good academics. Um, so that’s, that’s an option. That’s going to be a lot less expensive. Um, I knew a, one of the top students at my high school, um, went to Arizona state, didn’t do the honors program.
Um, just went to like kind of the regular classes so that he could get through, like with as least expense as possible. Um, you know, I’ve lost touch. I don’t know where he’s ended up, but, um, like that was, that was his plan. That was what it was the most important to him. And like, he was one of the school’s auditorium.
So like totally legitimate path. Um, if you really want to shoot for that kind of like, you know, private, you know, prestigious, uh, school or, you know, any other kind of situation like that, um, I would definitely recommend appealing if you can. Um, it’s, you know, worth it to try. And, [00:50:00] you know, if that doesn’t work and you aren’t getting scholarships in that case, I think it would be good to have a conversation with your family about kind of what, what loans, um, kind of look like and what your family’s position is on that.
Um, it, it really depends, uh, you know, on so many different factors, but like going to college at all is like, should not be like cost prohibitive. Um, it’s more of a matter of where, um, and that’s, that’s such an individual problem. Um, so I’m sorry, I’ve not been particularly articulate on this one. Um, but talk with your family, talk with a financial planner.
Um, Appeals to the financial aid office. Look for what scholarships you can, you can get, um, try going part-time if that’s allowed. Uh, there’s, there’s a lot of things you can do to kind of like reduce those costs as much as you can, but, [00:51:00] um, yeah. Good luck to you. If you’re in that situation, they know it’s not a fun place to be in.
Is I kind of sorta was in that situation. Um, and a few of my clients are in that situation and their best option was applying to schools that offered more merit scholarships, um, because they had the qualifications for that. And merit scholarships are just based on like your academics, your grades, extracurriculars, you did, um, volunteer hours, et cetera.
And anyone can qualify for those. It doesn’t really matter what your need is. And then the more needs based financial aid schools were a bit, um, harder just because paying for it would be harder since they didn’t qualify for need based financial aid. And then if you’re looking to go into like really top schools, like the IVs, they do not give out any.
Scholarships. Um, so I’m going to a, not necessarily a lower school, but a [00:52:00] lower, a non IB, maybe a better option if you’re looking to, um, get merit scholarships. But if you want to go to the IVs, but you can’t get need based aid, um, outside scholarships are gonna be your best bet. Yeah. And if you’re, if you’re with college advisor, your advisor can help you with scholarships too.
Um, so like feel free to send those essays over to your advisor. Um, but yeah, definitely shoot for merit scholarships, you know, as, as much as you can, it’s just, they, they definitely are not available at the IVs and often not at many other like non Ivy, but. Like top 30 schools as well, um, with some exceptions, but like, you know, everybody at the university of Chicago is very academically qualified to be there, even though it’s not an Ivy league.
So that, that can be tricky with those kinds of more competitive schools. But like, there are a lot of really great schools that are still like top 100 that do [00:53:00] give merit aid. Um, and you’re still gonna get a fantastic education. Um, so yeah. Thank you. Thank you for jumping in there and Mackenzie, uh, going on to the next question, how and where can you find out if a school gives good.
Yes. Um, so the college board, which, like I said, um, they are kind of the ones who do the CSS profile, the sat, APS, all that fun stuff. Um, they have like a pretty good college search tool as well. Um, and so if you go onto their website, um, there is, I can’t remember what the name of it is right now, but they have sort of a financial aid comparison tool.
Um, it’s just not going to be perfect because again, individual situations. Um, but that can give you a sense of like, you know, is this a school that offers like mostly loan based student aid packages or is this a school [00:54:00] that offers like a good balance of kind of work-study in scholarships and grants as well?
Um, some schools are also committed to being like no loan. Um, so they, they. Don’t include loans as part of their financial aid package ever. Um, so that that’s really great if that’s an option. Um, so yeah, look at, look at the college board website. Um, that’s, that’s a really good place to go. Um, and yeah, that’s, that’s my recommendation there.
Hm. Uh, okay. So one student is asking, what is the deadline for financial aid, that financial aid application for a junior. And can you explain a bit about what the timeline looks like? Yes. Um, so if you’re a junior, you don’t need to worry about financial aid yet. Um, when you. Start kind of finalizing your school list.
Look at like the financial aid websites of those schools to get a sense of like what their internal [00:55:00] deadlines are and everything like that. Um, so that you don’t miss those like priority scholarship deadlines. Um, but you don’t really have to think about it too much until your senior year. Um, so in the meantime, like you can start thinking about scholarships.
Absolutely. Um, you can start thinking about like, like talking with your parents about kind of what they’re able to contribute, um, and you know, how, how much they’re able to support you. Um, so you can start having these conversations. Absolutely. Um, you could, you know, chat with her financial aid team, if you want to get a sense of like, kind of what things might look like for you.
Um, but the, the real timeline starts to kick in like your senior fall. Um, Excuse me. Um, the CSS profile and the FAFSA both open up on October 1st of your senior year. So you can go in and you can make your accounts and, you know, spend some [00:56:00] time filling up those forms and then submit them to all the schools that you’re applying to.
Um, usually schools will want to have that financial aid information by like, like mid February at the latest. Um, so you know, better to get that in earlier as possible. Again, it is going to be the like previous year’s tax returns that you already have. Um, not the ones that you’ll file like the upcoming spring.
So usually that information should be fairly accessible for you. And then you have time. If you start early to ask questions and get help, if you need it. Um, Yeah, that’s going to be more of a, kind of a senior year project. Um, scholarships are kind of rolling. Like there’s a lot that are only available to seniors, but there’s a lot that are also open to juniors.
So just like keep an eye out for those outside scholarships and apply for them as you see them. Um, and especially like, [00:57:00] like really focus on those local ones. Um, and you can, you can start accruing scholarship money. Like even if you’re like in eighth grade or if you’re a freshman, um, there even some scholarships that are going to be open to you, that you can start kind of accruing.
Um, so yeah. And real quick for those of, for those in the room who aren’t working with this already. Um, we know that the college admissions process is overwhelming for parents and students alike. Our team of over 300 former admissions officers and admissions experts are ready to help you and your family navigate it all in one.
Advising sessions and last year’s admission cycle. Our students were accepted into Harvard at three times, the national rate and accepted into firstname.lastname@example.org advisor.com their students and their families can explore webinars, keep track of application [00:58:00] deadlines, research schools, and, um, more all right on our website and college advisors, just a really great resource.
We have our wonderful financial aid team, as well as our amazing advisors who can really help you navigate every part of this process and really helping you build a great college list that fits all of your needs and wants for school. And it’s just a really great resource. And now as we come to closing the webinar, uh, can you give us any like, uh, last advice or talk about, um, how to tell if a school is going to be a good return on invested?
Yeah. Um, so for the kind of return on investment, I mean, really with, with all calls decisions, I think that the best thing that you can do is to get a really clear idea of what your priorities are. Um, because if your top priority is to like, have that like classic liberal arts experience and to learn a lot and to try a bunch of new things [00:59:00] and like the cost isn’t so important to you, then it doesn’t really matter what the like return on investment calculator is going to give you, because like, that’s not really a like tangible, like thing that you can measure.
Um, that’s going to be something that happens or doesn’t at the end of your four years. Um, but if like, you know, your, your top priority is to get through for like, as low a cost as possible. That’s going to shape your list differently. It’s going to shape, you know, your. You like scholarships are going to be more important to start applying for early.
So especially for you juniors, but even like, you know, freshmen and sophomores start to think about kind of what things are most important to you in a college experience. And it doesn’t have to just be like, you know, experience or the costs. Like there’s, there’s a whole lot of gray area in between. Um, but think about those things that are going to matter and going to make the difference in how much [01:00:00] you get out of your college experience so that you can start this process being, you know, informed and, um, you know, approaching it from like a position that’s going to be, you know, leading you to success at the end.
Um, now if you are interested in kind of looking at those like return on investment calculators, let me see if I can find one. Um,
They there, you know, are available, um, online they’re, they’re not always super accurate. So like be aware of like, you know, where the site is getting their data and all of that. Um, oftentimes schools will publish their, like, like reports for their graduating classes. So, um, usually it’s like, you know, one year after graduation, where did, um, where did the class land in terms of like people who had jobs, [01:01:00] people who went to grad school, like all of those kinds of like outcomes.
Um, but sometimes they’ll do it for like 10 years out or any, any number of time, um, after graduation as well. So look for those reports from individual colleges, and that can give you a more specific sense of like, all right, based on their data, like, what does this look like? Um, but also keep in mind that.
You know, there’s a lot of English majors that like ended up working in tech. Like I, I work for an e-commerce company and I got my bachelor’s in history. Like that doesn’t seem to align very well. Um, so like, remember that, there’s not like, there’s not like a guarantee of like, kind of what your future is going to look like.
Um, but you know, keeping an eye on those priorities and remaining somewhat flexible, um, where you can, is going to help, you know, how to focus your college search, um, make that right for [01:02:00] you and help with your satisfaction through college. And. Um, on that note, um, I, when I’m working with my students, one student in particular was worried about finding a job after college and being able to pay off loans and everything.
And I explained to her a bit of my experience so far. So I go to Cornell university, but I also got accepted into Howard university and I got a full ride to Howard university. And for Cornell, the tuition is, or the cost of attendance is like $80,000. And they gave me 70,000. So I had to pay 10,000 every single year.
And even though I would have gone to Howard for free going to Cornell has given me up better, um, is going to help me in the long run from what I can tell, like, even right now I’m doing my own research project, which I might not have been able to do at Howard. And having that research experience helps me with.
Not only like knowledge, but also with my resume, which can help me get a job in the future and do what I want in the future. So also thinking about those little things [01:03:00] and like what you’re going to gain overall from the experience in comparison to costs. Definitely like, and remember that like your education has value in and of being education.
Like, regardless of like what, you know, the, um, you know, your ultimate salary ends up being like, it is valuable to have an education. Um, and so like yeah, definitely think about those, like, like those opportunity costs to, you know, be a little econ. Um, but you know, think about those things that are going to ultimately be worth it for you to have.
I, uh, a quick story from my life, my husband’s in law school right now. And, um, he decided to go to a law school where like he can go for, you know, very, very low cost law schools, you know, famously, uh, expensive endeavor. Um, but it’s very low [01:04:00] cost where he’s at. And he decided to do that so that he wouldn’t get trapped working in like big law working 80 to a hundred hours a week.
Um, because that just wasn’t the sort of lifestyle that he wanted to have. Um, and so there might be some opportunities that he might’ve had somewhere else where he’d be paying more full price that he isn’t getting, but he’s still having a lot of opportunities here too. Um, so it cuts both ways where like wherever you land, like you’re, you’re gonna have opportunities to thrive and grow and explore and do all these great things.
Um, But there’s, there’s, trade-offs wherever you’re going to go. Um, so think about those and what’s kind of most important to you and you know, what, you’re willing to move on what you’re not willing to move on. Um, and, and yeah, good luck. It’s, it’s a big process and like, I mean, McKenzie and I both work with students every year [01:05:00] through this and it’s stressful, but you will get through it.
Um, and yeah, wishing you all the best of luck as you kind of dive into your college journey. Yes. So that is the end of the prison of station and webinar. Thank you everyone for coming out and thank you to our panelists. We hope you found this information helpful. And remember that you can download the slides from the link in the handouts tab, and this webinar is being recorded if you would like to view it later.
Um, and if you are wondering how to download it from the link in the handouts tab, click on handouts, and then I believe you can, I’ve honestly never seen it from that end. So try clicking, but this webinar is being recorded. So you can view it again later through the website. That may be a bit easier and yes, and here’s the rest of our February series where you can, um, uh, where we’ll have different, uh, Different webinars, um, from admissions officers and [01:06:00] from our advisors on different aspects of the application process, in order to help you better prepare, especially since a lot of you are new to the admissions process.
So there will be more webinars for you and a bunch next month, also with even more AOs, giving their opinions and advice and on various topics. So thank you everyone for coming out and good night. And thank you Brynlee. This was a wonderful presentation. Thank you. Good night, everybody.