College Financial Planning From Birth to Graduation
Positioning The Student
FINALLY! A WAY FOR YOU TO PUT THE POWER BACK IN THE COLLEGE APPLICANTS' HANDS!
Since the beginning of time families have been put in a terrible position during the college application process. They must apply to colleges, the majority of the time, not knowing how much they will have to pay. Can you imagine buying a car, which is much less expensive, without knowing the price? A house? Just about anything, right? Why should this be different? Colleges have been holding families’ hostage this way for decades! It’s time to take back the process and put the power back in the family’s hands! How would you like to know BEFORE you apply to almost any college the amount of merit scholarships you are eligible for at that school? Read on.
I have personally guided thousands of families through the College Financing maze and the one thing I have found above all else is that you have to make the school(s) want your student. This is similar to recruiting. Depending on how badly the school wants the student, determines the amount, and quality, of the financial aid package. By knowing this in advance a family can dramatically shift the odds of receiving a good financial aid package in their favor. I PROMISE YOU, IF YOU FOLLOW THIS PROCESS, YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.
Let me start by saying that I do not believe in the “name cache” of a school. You may disagree with me and that is OK, but I do not believe a student’s career or life is determined by the name on a diploma. Let me also say that I do not include Ivy League or Almost Ivy schools in this conversation.
Getting into a college is secondary! Now-a-days it’s paying that’s the hard part!
You have to start thinking of college as a consumer, sort of like buying a house. We all want the ten million dollar house with the pool and huge granite kitchen, but CAN YOU AFFORD IT? We all want to send our children to the school they want to go to, but can you afford it? Would you listen to someone who said “Buy this house and worry about how to pay for it later?” This is the same advice many College Counselors offer. Weare talking over $70, 000 a year, times at least four!!! If someone says this to you FIRE THEM IMMEDIATELY!! Or simply ask them if they themselves can afford the payments? See if that changes their advice. This is one (of many) of the major reasons we had the housing crisis in 2007 and 2008. People were buying houses and saying they “want this house no matter what and they would worry about the payments later!” And I Guarantee you student loans are the next house of cards to fall. Already there are headlines of Student Loan default rates rising. This is only the beginning. How many articles have you read online or elsewhere where recent grads are complaining about how much student debt they have? If they would have done the research the RIGHT WAY and selected schools as a consumer, not by which sweatshirt, or car sticker they and their parents were proud to wear, maybe they would not be in the mess they are in.
Well, you will say to me, and I have personally heard it many, many times, “My daughter really wants to go to this school or that school.” Well, I bet she really would like a Porsche or a Corvette as well!. Would you buy it for her? Why not? BECAUSE IT IS NOT PRACTICAL AND MOST LIKELY IT’S NOT IN YOUR BUDGET! Use the same thought process on college!
I feel that it is not the school that makes the student but the student that makes the school. If your student wants to learn and get a good education, no matter the school, they will. If they want it to be a party school, sorry mom and dad, no matter the school, it will be. You may say, and I literally had a mother say this to me, exactly, “Well my daughter has to go to Brandeis, she is going to Brandeis!” Yet Brandeis is a so-called “reach school” for her! That means she will NOT be getting any merit money. “Doesn’t matter, we will pay for it with loans!” Just about verbatim from her!
What a “Reach School” actually means is that you are below their profile, SAT, ACT and GPA wise. They may give you $5,000 or even $10,000. Now while I do not want to turn up my nose at $5k or $10k, in reality what is that going to do? You still have $60k or $65k to pay! Can you write that check? Most likely not! A "Safety School" is just the opposite, you are above their profile.
Similarly, colleges have “Reach” Students and “Safety” Students as well. If you are applying to a “Reach” School, you are a “Safety” Student and vice-versa. Did you ever wonder “How did that kid get into that school?” Well, this is how. Schools need students to pay full price or close to full price in order to subsidize those they need or want to attract! How do schools attract these students? WITH MONEY! What happens is, when you apply to a reach school, you are saying “please, please let me in!” You are buying from a position of weakness. The school will say “OK, if you want to come to our school, you have to pay sticker price or close to sticker price.” In a sense, when you are a “Safety” Student applying to a “Reach” School, you are going to pay much more than if you are a “Reach” Student applying to “Safety” School. When you think about it, “Safety” Students are subsidizing “Reach” Students. It is that simple. You may not agree with me and that’s OK, but I can promise you this, IGNORE THIS AT PERIL TO YOUR WEALTH!
While that is fine and you may go ahead and apply to Brandeis or any reach school for that matter, and maybe even get accepted, but what happens when the financial aid offer arrives and all you get is a $5,000 grant and a $3500 loan? Brandeis or your reach school, is a $65,000 school, so while $5000 may seem exciting, it’s a drop in the bucket. In today’s day and age, YOU MUST KNOW WHAT THE SCHOOL IS OFFERING YOU BEFORE YOU APPLY!!!
What good is it to apply and get accepted to XYZ school if you can’t afford it?
By doing some careful research you can accomplish this, you can find out in advance how you will fare Financial Aid wise. In other words, you will have a pretty good idea about how much the school's Net Cost will be before you waste the time, expenses and your student's feelings, (avoiding many, many family arguments) applying to the school. PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS ONLY APPLIES TO MERIT SCHOLARSHIPS. NEED BASED FINANCIAL AID MAY IN FACT ADD TO THIS TOTAL.
So how do you do this?
Listen up because the secret I am about to tell you can be worth tens of thousands of dollars.
It is a known fact that schools want to attract the best possible students. Therefore, if your student has SAT scores and a GPA higher than the average of the college they are applying to, the school will try to entice that student with money. For example, if school A has an average combined SAT of 1100 (math and verbal) and an average GPA of 3.4; and the student has a combined SAT of 1200 and SAT of 3.7, this school will most likely try to attract this student by offering the family a lot of financial aid. You would be considered a “Reach Student.” However, if this was reversed, the student has a combined SAT score of 1000 and a GPA of 3.0 and the school has an average combined SAT of 1200 and GPA of 3.7, the school will offer the family a mediocre, at best, financial aid package.
Here’s the kicker! You do not need to go to these schools! Of course, in an ideal world your son or daughter would acquiesce and go to the lowest Net Cost school. We certainly do not live in an ideal world. These schools that are giving you the huge, $20K-$30K scholarship offers can be used as negotiating tactics! Yes, they can! I have done it for hundreds of clients and while it is not 100% it works more times than it does not.
Where can you find this info?
Well, you can spend hours and hours researching it at a cost of your leisure time with your family or taking off of work, losing income from not working or, my company, as part of my service plan, can have a College Merit Search by my company. The report will list colleges that your student is eligible for Merit Scholarships!
As far as I know, this is the only one of its kind! A search of a specific College's Merit Scholarships!