In this episode, Vice President of Strategies for College Todd Weaver shares the four fatal flaws that families make when it comes to the college planning process. Be sure you avoid these common pitfalls and set both your child and yourself up for college planning success.
Strategies for College
“We want families to take an integrated approach to finding college affordability and admissibility,” says Weaver.
They use a three-pronged approach that includes:
- Family financial review.
- Search for colleges.
- Line up with target schools.
- Be competitive for financial assistance.
- Make sure family and student priorities are met.
The Four Fatal Flaws that Families Make
These common flaws are:
- Families search for a college and then figure out how to pay for it later.
- Don’t choose a college first!
- Families often apply and get accepted then wonder, “How do I figure out how to pay for this?”
- This is the backward way to go about it.
- Figure out your expected family contribution around the sophomore year of high school.
- All colleges are now doing a two year “look back” at taxes starting October of 2016.
- The CSS will also be doing this prior prior year.
- Use the financial aid information to pick schools that will work to your advantage.
- Reach schools are particularly difficult to get financial aid for unless you are a very strong student with a great GPA and/or test scores.
- Lots of scholarship money does NOT go unclaimed each year.
- If you earn a lot of outside scholarships, the college might reduce the grants given.
- “I think it is better for a student to focus on, rather than the small scholarships, focus on the private scholarships or campus-based scholarships at the school they are applying to,” recommends Weaver.
- Figure out where you can best use your time and efforts.
- College is paid for in time, money, and emotions. Plan all three of those resources.
- Brand name paralysis.
- “(Parents and students) feel the only way to be successful is to go to the highly visible colleges,” laments Weaver.
- Choose a school that matches your needs as a family.
- There are so many great collegiate options beyond the ranked top 30.
- What you do in college is much more important than the name recognition of the school.
- Be sure to use the career services and gain professional experiences.
- Choosing a school should start with looking at the finances. Then go look at schools that provide the opportunities your child wants or needs.
- Families often grossly underestimate the project management aspect of planning for college.
- Weaver warns that families should expect to put in about 90-100 hours of work over the course of two years or more to make sure they are doing everything they need to do.
- Waiting until fall of senior year of high school is a huge mistake.
- Typically, junior year is when students are ready to start thinking about college.
- Parents need to have their financial strategy in place by the middle of their student’s sophomore year of high school.
- Take a subtle visit when on vacation and let your student, even as a freshmen, walk around and see a college campus nearby.
- Students need to see different kinds of schools before thinking about what they want or need.
LINKS AND RESOURCES:
- Will help you calculate how much need-based aid you might qualify for.
- twitter @ CollegeGamePlan
- facebook @ Strategies for College
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Brad is not affiliated with Strategies for College.