Looking For Great College Bargains

Sale Stickers

Excuse me if this sounds ridiculously elementary, but here goes:

One way to cut your college costs is to look for schools with lower sticker prices.

My nephew Matt attends Westminster College in Fulton Mo, a liberal arts college, where the tuition and room/board is $30,490. Ninety eight percent of the students at Westminster don’t pay full price. The average merit scholarship is $11,500 and the average need-based award is nearly $16,000.

Matt, who is a sophomore, is thriving at Westminster where he has made friends, enjoys small classes and benefits from attentive professors.

My son Ben, a senior, is having an equally great experience at Beloit College, where the price tag is higher.

Comparing Prices

The tuition and room/board at Beloit College is $48,506. The average merit award is $17,600 and the average need-based award is $25,000.

The total price for someone, who qualified for a merit scholarships from Westminster, would be $18,990 versus $30,914 for a Beloit student who snagged a scholarship.

Is Beloit worth the extra $11,924?

And what about the schools, particularly on the coasts that cost an additional $10,000 to $15,000 more than Beloit?

In our family, the price was not a deal breaker because my husband and I could afford to pay for Ben’s No. 1 school. But I would suggest that the education students receive at Westminister is going to be quite comparable to Beloit’s.US news books

I’d argue that a big reason for the price differential is the college rankings. Beloit is ranked as the 59th best liberal arts college and Westminster is ranked as No. 146th.

Families looking for bargains are more likely to find them if they search lower in the rankings. And, just as importantly, look outside cities and especially those on the coasts where schools can charge a premium.

Sorting Schools by Price

Today I want to share with you a new helpful tool that The Chronicle of Higher Education has rolled out that will allow you to sort through 3,000 schools by price, as well as by price for schools in each state. Play around with this tool and should find some more affordable hidden gems. (You won’t be able to access the tool without a subscription, but here is a PDF of the latest prices for schools broken down by state.)

To demonstrate what you can find, I checked prices in Ohio which has a large number of private institutions that are competing for students in a state with declining high school students.

I created a list of private schools based on price and here is a screenshot of the most expensive private schools in Ohio:

ohio 1

When I looked more closely at the list, I was surprised to discover that price and rankings were highly correlated!

Liberal Arts Colleges

First, let’s take a look at the Ohio schools on the list that are in the National Liberal Arts College category. Their rank by cost correlates exactly with their U.S. News ranking:

  1. Oberlin College  25 (U.S. News ranking)
  2. Kenyon College 32
  3. Denison University 50
  4. College of Wooster 65
  5. Ohio Wesleyan U. 100
  6. Wittenburg U. 123
  7. Hiram College 156

National Universities

This trend also held for the two Ohio schools on the screenshot that are ranked in U.S. News’ National University category:

  1. Case Western Reserve University 37
  2. University of Dayton 112

Regional Universities – Midwest

The trend doesn’t hold for the schools in the Midwestern regional category, but I suspect that could be because people pay less attention to the rankings in this category. The two premiere categories for U.S. News are the national university and liberal arts categories.

  • John Carroll University 7
  • Xavier University 4
  • Capital University 35
  • Marietta College 4
  • Otterbein University 17

Looking for Good Buys

I’m not going to get into a discussion of rankings here, but I’ve discussed in my book and my college blog why U.S. News’ college rankings are horribly flawed and even destructive. And yet my little exercise would suggest that we are often paying for schools based on these rankings!

There are wonderful education opportunities at many schools regardless of what U.S. News might think of a school. Here are just two examples:

Marietta College has an impressive program for petroleum engineers – the only liberal arts college that offers this – that enjoys an awesome placement rate. Baldwin Wallace University, an Ohio school that didn’t make my screenshot (its tuition is just $27,840 before aid or scholarships) enjoys 100% placement for its highly regarded music therapy programs.

There are many hidden gems out there and if you want to cut the price of college, I’d start looking for them.

(Note: I have discovered that if you don’t have a Chronicle of Higher Education subscription, you can’t access the tool that I discuss in this post. I did receive permission from The Chronicle this afternoon to share this PDF of the prices of individual colleges that are broken down by price.  Lynn O.)

This post was originally featured on the website of Lynn O’Shaughnessy, College Expert, Author & Consultant, who was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on March 29th, 2014.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Becoming an “Angular” Student

students_readingIn the early eighties, when I applied, the buzzword for college acceptance was “well-rounded,” which referred to a student who participated in many different activities.

That is no longer what colleges are looking for from applicants. Now they want to build a well-rounded class made up of students who will each fill one or two slices of their total round pie: in other words, students who are unique, focused, and angular (or express excellence or uniqueness) in their interests.

Peter Johnson, The Director of Admission at Columbia University, echoed this view when I heard him speak recently.  Johnson said that Columbia is seeing a rise in what he calls “Niche Applicants” and what I call Angular Applicants. These are students who have already demonstrated a deep independent intellectual curiosity or expertise in a given area from science research to humanities to outstanding athletics. An angular student can also be a student who has developed a degree of excellence in one or two areas—leadership, intellectual curiosity, athletics, or community service—or who has a special talent or exhibits unusual personal character.

I developed The College Application Wheel™ to serve as a framework and tool to assist you in identifying your strengths and “gaps”—areas that you may need to fill in such as community service or higher standardized test scores—it will also help you determine where your energy may best be spent in making yourself shine or stand out from the crowd. It will help you understand what makes you unique, how to find a college that values you for who you are, and help you see where there is a match between you and a specific college.

The College Application Wheel™

college_app_wheel

The key components of the College Application Wheel are:

  • Academics/test scores
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Leadership
  • Intellectual curiosity
  • Athletics
  • Special talents
  • Financial
  • Other

Colleges don’t expect you to excel in all eight of these categories, but they do look at these areas to determine if you will be a good academic, cultural, emotional, financial, and character-based “fit” with their institution.  So what’s your angle?

Bio
Lisa Bleich is founder and president of College Bound Mentor, LLC and the author of Surviving the College Application Process: Case Studies to Help You Find Your Unique Angle for Success.  She mentors students from all over the world on the college application process, helping them uncover their strengths and develop a personal plan for success. Lisa holds a BA in European cultural studies and French from Brandeis University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and three daughters. Two of them have successfully survived the college application process!

This post was provided by Lisa Bleich, College Bound Mentor, who was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on March 22, 2014.  Listen to the broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: University of Nottingham

The Importance of Early Career Exploration

Candid Career LogoHow did you find yourself in your first job?  Did you take it for the money?  Was it the career your father or mother did?  Or did you simply not have a better idea?

Whatever the reason, it is too big of a decision to take lightly. Far too many students don’t have all the information to make the best choice or the information is hard to come by, boring to review, or even worse, fabricated.  Until now!

CandidCareer.com is the premier provider of career profile videos to educate students on the possibilities.  At Candid Career, we believe that the best career advice comes from the individuals that are actually doing the jobs every day, so that is exactly who we bring to you.  We also believe that young people love video. As video becomes more common for educational purposes, the ability to access honest career information and advice through video becomes essential.  The experience on CandidCareer.com is a convenient and non-intimidating one for students. After all, we know how much time they spend on YouTube!

Candid Career has recently partnered with LEAP (Learning Enrichment and Assistance Program, LLC) to add even more clarification on finding a college major and career path that matches the interests of a student.  CandidCareer.com is now part of the LEAP Fit 2 Flourish program.

For over 50 years, the Birkman Method® has been an industry leader in personality assessment assisting over 3.5 million participants with dialing into their hard wiring. This multi-dimensional tool focuses on measuring usual behaviors, underlying needs, stress behaviors and interests to reveal multiple ingrained personality dimensions. This information combined with a student’s academic profile directs the student in discovering best match, economically safe careers, the college majors that lead to those positions and the schools respected for these majors.

If a student can start college having chosen a major and career path confident needs will be met, interests embraced and stresses avoided then the 4-year graduation rate sky rockets saving thousands in future tuition.

Students take the 45-minute online assessment in the comfort of their home. Once your Birkman and LEAP Student Profile are complete, we marry the two sets of information into best-fit suggestions for the individual student. Families receive via email the full 55 page Birkman® results, the 24 page LEAP Fit 2 Flourish report including 3-5 best fit careers for exploration, 3-5 majors leading to these careers, 3-5 colleges respected for these majors.

Students can take these career suggestions and explore them on CandidCareer.com.  There are multiple search options when browsing through the thousands of videos on the website such as Industry, Career Title, College Major, College Attended, City, and State. Once students have found a career that peaks their interest, learning more is as easy as clicking play.  Industry professionals on the site speak to what they love about their careers and some of the challenges.  Professionals also give advice on how to prepare for their careers, such as college majors, course work and/or internships and training to consider.

CandidCareer.com and LEAP share a passion for helping students graduate on time with a job in a career path that excites them. The future is right around the corner, and those that prepare for success, are more likely to achieve it!

This post was provided by Neilye Garrity, Co-Founder of CandidCareer.com, who was a guest along with Lisa Mader, President of LEAP (Learning Enrichment and Assistance Program, LLC) on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on March 15th, 2014.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: Hofstra Career Center

‘Would You Rather…?’ A Text Messaging Campaign on a Mission to Help Students Manage Their Money

DoSomething.org LogoWe’ve all done some weird things to make money. My weirdest job? Working at an events company where I would dress in an elf costume, work the popcorn machine, and shuffle snot-nosed kids through the line to meet Santa every holiday season. At an Easter event one spring, I saw the inside of the Easter Bunny costume head, and was never the same. Every time I got a paycheck from that job, it seemed like it was gone in the blink of an eye. I had no idea how to manage, invest, or save my money.

I wasn’t alone in my lack of finance savvy, and the implications of being clueless about money extend much further than the holiday season. Seventy percent of college seniors graduate with student loan debt, averaging $29,400 in 2013,[1] and 36% of recent college graduates are mal-employed[2], meaning they work in positions that don’t require a degree, like on a wait staff or in the service industry. There is a monumental gap between the average college graduate’s debt and their financial ability to pay – and much of it can be attributed to an inability to understand and make tough financial decisions.

For the second year, DoSomething.org, the largest not-for-profit for young people and social change, is combating that issue and informing young people on financial education through a text-messaging experience in partnership with H&R Block Dollars and Sense. The experience, called Would You Rather, uses text messaging to challenge young people to make decisions about how they’d manage their money and provides real world financial tips. Last year, 44,238 young people participated in the campaign, delivering 62,435 tips to their friends.

Here’s how it works:

  • Teen receives a text message like this: “What would you rather do to save $$? A) Share your spring break hotel room w/ your entire extended family OR B) Not go on spring break.”
  • Teen responds: “A”
  • They receive: Hope the bathtub’s comfy!
  • After this and throughout the game, they receive actionable financial tips relevant to the question, such as: “Going on spring break? Create a travel budget so you come back from vacation with happiness and a tan, rather than regret.”

Teens have the opportunity to send this game to friends, compare answers, and share valuable financial tips directly relevant to their lives. Focusing financial education on short term decisions and small behavior changes with big impact is an effective and impactful way to get young people thinking about their financial futures, even beyond holiday shopping.

This post was provided by Farah Sheikh, Education Campaign Specialist at DoSomething.org, who was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on March 8th, 2014.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: Fanlala


[1] Institute for College Access & Success’ Project on Student Debt

[2] Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University.

What Good Is a Liberal Arts Degree?

Lightbulb over person's face.The colleges that I work with tell me that new students are flocking to get business degrees or specialized undergraduate degrees in nursing, education, engineering, or other majors that “guarantee” a job after graduation. Yet many students enter college without a clear idea of what they want to accomplish in their career, and stress over choosing the right major. As a result, half of all students change their major at least once during their college career, according to Dr. Fritz Grupe of MyMajors.com.

Parents are worried about their children’s choices, too. “What kind of job can you to get with an English Lit major?” is a common reaction.

The fact is that a liberal arts degree remains an excellent path to success, according to statistics published by the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2010 and 2011, graduates with degrees in the humanities or social science actually had average salaries that were higher than those for science and math graduates. It is true that those with engineering and professional or pre-professional degrees made more right out of college, but this margin does not appear to hold up over time.

According to the Census Bureau numbers, by age 56 to 60 the humanities and social science graduates made about $2,000 more a year than the professional and pre-professional graduates.

Of course, it doesn’t matter what the average salary is if you can’t find a job. So what is the story for liberal arts majors? It turns out that even in the middle of this awful economy and job market, recent liberal arts graduates had an unemployment rate of just 5.2%, far below the national average for workers overall. This means that almost 19 out of every 20 graduates were able to find work. And this advantage appears to extend later in your career. In the same period, workers 41 to 50 years old with liberal arts degrees had an unemployment rate of just 3.5 percent, which is only slightly higher than those with professional or pre-professional degrees.

The fact is that our nation’s businesses – large and small – depend on a steady crop of young workers who are needed not for the facts that they learned in college, but rather the skills. Companies need employees with a strong work ethic, the ability to conduct research and analysis of information, problem solving ability, leadership and teamwork skills, and the ability to communicate clearly and effectively both verbally and in writing. These are the very skills that a liberal arts degree is design to teach.

Alfred Poor, Ph.D. is a speaker and a writer, and is the author of “7 Success Secrets That Every College Student Needs to Know!” He speaks to high school, college, and corporate audiences about the importance of career skills for young employees’ success at work.

He is dedicated to delivering practical information that you can put to use right away. You can contact him on Twitter at @AlfredPoor, on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/alfredpoor, on Google+ at google.com/+AlfredPoor, or through his website at www.alfredpoorspeaker.com.

This post was provided by Alfred Poor, Professional Speaker and writer, who was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on March 1st, 2014.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: Airik Lopez

Tax Advantaged College Strategies

Luxury tax space on Monopoly boardOften times, college planning entails helping a family increase their opportunity to qualify for financial aid.  But what can be done for families who will likely NOT qualify for financial aid, given their income level and/or countable assets?

Parents who are small business owners have additional college funding tools available to them that other families don’t have.  Implementing a tax-advantaged college plan can help these families fund college education for their children in a way that reduces their overall income taxes.

The purpose of tax-advantaged planning is to increase family funds available for future college costs by reducing taxation.  In other words, every dollar saved on taxes is a dollar in your pocket that can then be put towards future college costs.  In tax-advantaged college planning, income and assets are better off in the student’s name.  This is different from aid-advantaged planning, where income and assets are better off in the parents’ name.  It is critical to know whether or not you will qualify for financial aid, so you know which strategy (tax-advantaged or aid-advantaged) to implement.

In the United States, we are subject to a progressive tax system, meaning the tax rate increases as taxable income increases.  This type of tax system is designed to reduce taxes for those with a lower ability to pay them and conversely, to increase taxes for those with a higher ability to pay.  However, the progressive nature of this system leaves the door open for “income shifting” – a strategy of moving a person’s income from a higher income tax bracket to a lower one.

Unfortunately, a taxpayer does not have unlimited ability to shift income and/or assets because the IRS has implemented Gift Tax limits and Kiddie Tax rules in order to limit such shifts.

A Tax Advantage College Strategies (TACS) analysis shows you how to shift income from the parents to the student within these constraints and within the student’s Tax Capacity.

Jodi Eramo, CPA, CCPRS with College Planning Relief® has partnered with Westface College Planning to develop “Tax-Advantaged College Strategies” (TACS): an analysis aimed specifically toward families who will likely not qualify for “need-based” financial aid.  Even for these families, a TACS analysis will typically add $5k – $8k to their children’s college funding.

Contact Westface College Planning for your TACS analysis and to learn more about college financial planning.

Jodi Eramo was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on February 22nd, 2014 where we discussed Tax Advantaged College Strategies.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: Philip Taylor

End Homework Stress with Tutor.com

Tutor.com Logo“I hate this!  I’ll never finish this homework!  I give up!”

Sound familiar? If your child’s Algebra homework (or Chemistry or Calculus, or…) is keeping you up all night, you are not alone.  A recent survey found that almost 50% of parents can’t help their kids with homework because they don’t know the material.  That’s no surprise.  Many subjects are taught differently today and let’s face it most parents haven’t sat in a classroom looking at equations for 20 years.

Don’t stress.  Help is available and it can bring peace back to your house. Almost 30% of middle school and high school students use a tutor at some point to keep their grades up, build confidence and work on their study skills.  There are many tutoring options available to students from small group sessions at tutoring centers to tutors who come to your house and online tutoring that you can access anytime.

Tutor.com has completed 10 million tutoring and homework help sessions online over the last decade.  If you’re thinking about hiring a tutor, here are some tips to keep in mind:

Get Help Early:  Tutor.com surveyed 500 of their math tutors and found that the number one reason students are struggling is because they missed an earlier concept in class. Students fall behind, get frustrated and sometimes give up. Getting help earlier keeps students on track with their class. Often, just a few sessions with a tutor can get great results and keeps the cost down too.

Get Help on Your Schedule: Parents and students are busier than ever before. Work, sports, and other activities keep your child going all day long. Students walk in the door exhausted and the last thing they want is to sit down with a tutor for an hour.  Find a tutor who has flexible hours to meet the needs of your child and your family.  Online tutoring solves this problem by being available 24/7.

Pick the Right Tutor: Here’s what parents should look for in a tutor: passionate about teaching and connecting to your child; experienced in the subject your child needs help in; teaches your child the concepts they need so that they can do the next problem on their own.  Your child should have a good connection with the tutor and feel comfortable working with him/her.

Make Sure it Works: Parents and students often use tutoring to improve grades. If you work with a tutor in your home, make sure you build in time to review your child’s progress with the tutor. Online tutoring captures every tutoring session and emails it to your inbox so you can review your child’s work.

Time to Go Online:  When your child is melting down about algebra homework at 9:30 p.m. and you can’t help it feels awful!  Online tutoring is a great solution since it is available 24/7.  Your child can connect to an experienced tutor who can help teach the concept and the peace in your house.

Once you have selected a tutoring option that works best for your child and your family, check in with your child to see how they are feeling.  And take note of their behavior.  Does homework time seem less stressful?  Do they complain less about school and the subject they are getting help in?   Beyond grades and completed homework assignments, this lets you know that the help is working.  Need more information about tutoring and homework help?  Go to www.tutor.com.

Mandy Ginsberg is the CEO of Tutor.com which helps 6,000 students a night by connecting them to a great tutor online.  She is also the proud mom of two daughters; her 15 year old uses Tutor.com for Algebra II and Chemistry.

This post was provided by Mandy Ginsberg, CEO of Tutor.com, who was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on February 15th, 2014.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: EdTechTimes

Competency Based Education will be a Disruptive Force in Higher Education

Brandman Seal Diploma RWB copyGet ready for a “game changing” system of learning that will soon replace the old model of the “credit hour” and “seat time”. Competency Based Education (CBE) is the next innovative initative to reach higher education. CBE is a move to personalize learning – teaching degree seeking students what they don’t know and by-passing what they already know, and doing it for about half the cost.

The Background: On August 22, 2013 President Obama outlined his “Plan to Make College More Affordable” in a report released by the White House. The President stated his desire to promote innovation and competition in the higher education field through a number of different initiatives. Topping that list was this header: Award Credits Based on Learning, not Seat Time. There has been a regulatory awakening by the U.S. Department of Education that is actively seeking new models of learning and CBE has moved to the forefront.

In November 2011, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told the New York Times, “I want them to be the norm,” referring to competency based education programs. Many high performing institutions are submitting groundbreaking competency-driven approaches.

In 2014, there are some alarming trends in higher education. Enrollments have declined over the past year due to higher costs. 54% of Americans are underemployed and employers are telling educators that the skills gap is widening. Institutions, such as Brandman University, view competency based education as a way to address these issues.

The Solution: Provide a low cost degree that is granted only after an individual has mastered a core set of competencies. Competencies are derived from employer requirements, professional certifications, Lumina Foundation Degree Qualifications Profile and the American Association of Colleges & Universities Leap value rubric competencies.

A student can complete the degree at his/her pace. At $5,400 a year, tuition will be approximately half of what a state university would charge, and the time it would take to complete a degree would be roughly 30 months. Embedded content eliminates the need for costly textbooks. Students will take an assessment and then adaptive software will modify the content so that students will be taught only what they don’t know. A  mix of faculty mentored learning with algorithmic learning and analytics produces adaptive learning.

It is important that once a student graduates they will have the skills necessary to compete in the job market. Brandman University will begin offering a competency based bachelor’s of business administration later this year with the goal of providing students a quicker, less expensive path to completion of their degree.

This post was provided by Gary Brahm, chancellor of Brandman University, who was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on February 8th, 2014.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: Brandman University

Western Undergraduate Exchange: Is Your Student Eligible for Reduced Tuition?

Map of participating WUE states.Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) operates as a non-profit facility and essentially acts as an informational hub, conveying data or “resource sharing” between educators, governors and policymakers.  They pride themselves as an organization dealing with and concentrated exclusively on higher education.

It’s centered in 15 western states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

For more background information, visit the WICHE about page on their website.

The Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) is one of their primary initiatives focused on financial aid.  As a resident of one of those states, you’re eligible to receive reduced tuition of 150% at over 150 WUE participants.

Wondering if your dream school is part of this program?  A full list can be found here.  You may also use their search feature and they grouped colleges by state for your convenience.

You simply need to indicate on your admission form to the participating institution that you’d like consideration for the WUE tuition rate.  While it isn’t automatically given to all students, be sure to apply early.  A number of colleges hand out a limited amount of WUE awards.

Still unsure about something with their organization?  Any other FAQs can be found under their page called “Ask WICHE”.

For questions directly concerning the WUE, send an e-mail their way to info-sep@wiche.edu or give them a call at (303) 541-0270.

This post gives you basic information about the Western Undergraduate Exchange.  We went into greater detail on our College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” February 1st 2014 broadcast.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.  For a more detailed explanation of the WUE program, listen to our show with guest Margo Colalancia, Director of Student Exchanges at WICHE.

Photo Credit: U. of Montana

How Does Financial Aid Really Work?

11943267226_18cbe8371d_bThe staggering costs associated with attending college is enough to discourage any high school graduate or anyone who began a 4 year program, but never completed it. Tuition has increased across the country. But for the student who is willing to put a little time into finding free money to pay tuition and related costs, the effort is well worth it.

I speak from personal experience about my search for financial aid to pay for three degrees. Today, I am a Financial Aid Advisor at Albany State University, but 14 years ago, I was a Dougherty High School graduate from Albany, Georgia wondering how my dream to complete college would be funded. My mother and father constantly reinforced the importance of getting a degree for financial independence, but had little or no resources to help me after working to make ends meet for our family home. I got serious about planning my future. With their encouragement during times I needed it most coupled with determination, I secured funds to complete four degrees.

So far, I have secured an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration from Darton College, a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources at Georgia SouthWestern State University, and a Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in Human Resources at Albany State University. I am currently working on a second Master’s in Business Administration at Albany State University and I am set to graduate this year on December 14th.

I am also a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated and other campus organizations. I completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (better known as FAFSA) and was qualified by the Department of Education to receive financial aid such as Pell and SEOG grants, and work study to pay for the 2 year and 4 year degree. I was also awarded institutional scholarships and aid based on information I provided on the FAFSA. Tuition assistance offered through a program at my job helped pay for the completion of two master’s degrees.

I am now helping students navigate the maze of financial aid. Most times, problems arise when they file the FAFSA at the last minute. The FAFSA is available every year after January 1st. I encourage students to begin applying for aid at the beginning of the year and then load their parent’s tax information on the application filing. I always recommend that students look for scholarships in their junior year of high school to jumpstart their research.

I am truly thankful for the opportunities afforded me to further my education. I am now able to speak to students because I’ve walked in their shoes. A sense of fulfillment fills me as I watch them stroll the  stage at graduation knowing I had a hand in opening the doors to a new chapter in their life.

Information:

Denata Williams

Financial Aid Advisor  MBA, MPA

Albany State University Office of Financial Aid

Phone: (229) 430-4648

Fax: (229) 430-3936

This post was provided by Denata Williams, a financial aid advisor at Albany State University, who was a guest on College Smart Radio “Tackling the Runaway Costs of College” on January 18th, 2014.  Listen to this broadcast on YouTube here.

Photo Credit: Simon Cunningham