Choosing from ranked schools can be tricky. Is one school really that much better than another? We invited Farran Powell on the show to help clear up what this ranking thing is all about. She is the “Paying for College” writer for the publication that started the ranking craze, U.S. News and World Report. Having written somewhere near 100 articles on the topic, Farran has a wealth of knowledge she shares in this great interview.
Questions Answered Today:
What is a school that claims to meet full need?
“Different schools have different ways of determining what your need is,” says Powell. While some schools rely on FAFSA, others will ask you to provide a CSS profile as well. If you are looking for federal financial aid, you will need to complete the FAFSA.
Each school has a different formula for determining that they have met your full need. The schools that offer this feature are usually private schools with only two public schools on the current list.
These schools tend to be highly ranked and use a need blind admissions policy. These are generally intensely competitive.
Powell recommends if you are considering this type of school, “You want to look at the fit financially, and does it have what you want to study at this school?”
There might be a cheaper school out there that is great and has a perfect program for your desired major.
How are colleges doing things differently to adjust to the new FAFSA?
Some schools have moved up their deadlines to as early as December. The Department of Education has also released the Pell Grant schedule earlier.
FAFSA is no longer based on an estimated value, you are using taxes from two years back.
This makes the colleges more comfortable in packaging their awards because the numbers are more verifiable. These are now being released 6-8 weeks earlier than before.
This current year is the only year where there might be discrepancies. “It is a one year issue that could happen to current students,” notes Powell.
If something has drastically happened since your FAFSA application or the tax return you use for it, such as death in the family or large medical expense, you can apply for a reconciliation of your award at the financial aid office of your school since your circumstances have changed.
What advice do you have for parents?
Visiting schools out of state will cost money, but you can always go locally. See the different types of schools to see what will be a good fit for you.
This will help you to narrow down your shortlist so you don’t take unnecessary and expensive road trips.
Also, consider visiting schools during the non tourist season to save money on airfare and hotels. Maybe go during the winter.
The USNews.com website has lots of information available that is put together by both a data team and reporters so you can search based on what is important to you.
Some things you can check out on the website include:
- Different ways you can pay for school, what it’s like living on campus, and many more.
- College navigator
Best value schools
- Even if they might have a high sticker price, they try to help out students the most.
- A+ schools for B students
- Powell herself studied abroad and notes that schools oversea have a lot more emphasis on test results and AP courses in high school. Programs are also only three years long, so you need to be sure of the area you want to study and if it will transfer well back to the states.
- Paying for grad school information
- Online education
LINKS AND RESOURCES:
- Podcast Episode Index of all our shows!
- Twitter @FarranPowell
Core Area #6 Merit-Aid
Merit-aid is aid that is offered to families where the student has achieved some success, either academically or athletically, and they are able to receive additional funds on top of other aid they may be receiving.
It is not tied to the family finances.
A typical private school might offer a scholarship such that if your test scores and grade point average meet a certain requirement, they can offer you a set amount of money. This can be tiered where different thresholds offer differing amounts of money.
In addition to academics, scholarships might be based on:
- Music or other unique abilities
- Extra-curricular activities
- Science fairs
If you are just barely accepted to a certain college, you probably won’t earn very much merit aid and will have to probably pay full price. Conversely, if you are accepted somewhere else that is less competitive, you might be able to win more.
Episode 2: Need-Based Financial Aid Part 1
Episode 3: Need-Based Financial Aid Part 2
Optional Area- Performing Arts
You could qualify for merit-aid with performing arts, but there will usually be some type of audition required. Many schools offer these on campus, but some occasionally offer satellite auditions around the country.
Episode 38: Insights Into Majoring in the Performing Arts
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