Archive for the 'Financial Aid' Category
Almost every campus has a main walkway, central lawn, or main street. With hundreds to thousands of students walking around every day, it’s a marketers dream. Especially when the weather turns nicer and students are out in full force, hundreds of people will try to disturb your peaceful walk to class. People from all kinds of places will try to talk to you, hand you things, get you to sign up for things, offer to sell you useless items, ask you for spare change, and let you know that you haven’t been “saved” yet and that you’re going to hell because of it. It’s unfortunate the amount of students I see get cornered every day on their way to class. I myself am excellent at avoiding all people I don’t want to talk to, and so I figured I’d share some of my techniques. After reading this post, hopefully the next time someone wants you to sign up for a credit card, or open another bank account, you can walk right by confidently; saving both time and money.
1.Avoid all eye contact – The most common mistake students make when they are getting approached is making eye contact. If you look at them, then they know you notice them, and that gives them a window to approach you. No matter what your political leanings are, if you don’t want to be bothered, look away! Look down at your feet, look at your cell-phone, look at the person on the other side of the lawn, look at your mp3 player, or simply look up at the sky. If you don’t see them, then they don’t exist, and are therefore easier to avoid.
2. Pretend you don’t speak English – I first discovered this method when I was being harassed to sign a petition against some silly legislation that would have no effect on me or anyone I cared about. The eager young lady came towards me, clipboard in hand, ready to give me the lowdown on the issues. I simply looked at her and responded with pure gibberish. You’ll find that most people can’t tell what language you are speaking, and will therefore assume it is either Spanish or some sort of Eastern European dialect they’ve never heard. Be sure to sell it as well; act like you are so confused and stressed because they’ve approached you speaking a language that’s not your native tongue, and they will surely apologize and move on. Keep in mind, however, that this will be much more believable if you are close to the Medical Sciences or Engineering areas. If you are near a business school or one of the humanities, it’s a much tougher sell. Pretending to not know how to speak English is also a great activity if you are simply really bored.
3. Convince the Religious Zealot You are beyond saving – The Bible thumpers, and other religious converters seem to always be out in full force on nice sunny days when you are just trying to get to your lecture hall on time. For the ladies, it’s when you’re wearing your loveliest, and most revealing, spring outfits. It’s not that I’m opposed to religion; I’m just opposed to it being stuffed down my throat in the form of a pocket-sized Bible or a doomsday speech telling me about all the evils I have committed. I just don’t have time to conceptualize an eternity in hell for “rejecting” Jesus Christ when I am convinced that Calculus is my own personal hell on Earth. The best way to deflect these zealots is to simply convince them that there’s no way they can help you. Here are some five good answers to the question, “Have you been saved” which are sure to convince the person trying to prevent you from eternal damnation that you are beyond God/Jesus/Buddha/ Zeus/whoever’s saving graces:
1.“No, but I have two dads.”
2.“No, I’m a theatre major”
3.“I’m sorry; I have an appointment at Planned Parenthood I need to get to”
Of course, if you have time, you can always choose to argue with them. If they are fundamentalist, and take every word of the Bible as fact, simply point out factual inconsistencies between the Old Testament and New Testament. Or pose them a logical question. For Example, “If we all came from Adam and Eve, why aren’t we all inbred with extra limbs and hemophilia?” I actually asked a preacher this very question and he responded that it was God’s miracle. My, religious zealots say the darndest things.
4. Headphone happiness, the iPod effect – iPods are a wonderful thing. Without my headphones and iPod, I’d probably have at least 10 credit cards, 20 bank accounts, be on a petition for every issue in the state, and be a member of 15 different religious organizations. If you have headphones on, and music blaring, you are deaf to the world and can just groove on by. Even if you hear them through the music, you can pretend like you didn’t. A word of caution, however, this MUST be combined with avoiding eye contact, since if you make eye contact you are acknowledging their existence. It’s much harder to avoid them that way. Usually if I lock eyes with someone trying to sell me something by mistake, I very quickly look down at my iPod and change the track as I scurry by. Trust me, it works. Just be careful when crossing streets with your iPod on, because that can be very dangerous. However, there’s no iPod danger if you have a pacemaker, so feel free to rock on!
5. Sacrifice the student in front of you – This is a more underhanded technique that requires awareness and discretion. If you see someone passing out leaflets or approaching people with a sign-up sheet, find the nearest student in front of you. Slowly get closer to them and walk almost DIRECTLY behind them. The person handing stuff out will have to choose one of you, and will most likely go for the person in front. As they get assailed, you can nimbly jump around them and continue on, worry free. Be sure to look back and toss them a wicked grin if you see their face wincing as they are engaged.
WARNING: If the other student is excellent at using the techniques listed here, it could backfire, so choose wisely.
6. Pretend to get random cell-phone call – As you are walking towards the marketers or whoever, a nice easy move is to simply pull out your cell-phone and start talking. You can act like it’s an urgent call and break into a sprint as you pass the booth or station for added effect. This could also be combined with the “I don’t speak English” technique, because you can randomly start yelling gibberish into your phone.
7. The Watch-Check Fake Out – If you are approaching a group of people trying to talk to you, you can always use the “insanely late for class” technique, AKA, the “Watch Check Fake-Out.” Simply look at your watch as you are walking towards them, and be sure to have a noticeable look of terror and/or shock on your face. Then, simply break out into a full blown sprint. They’ll assume you’re late for something very important, and you’ll blow by them before they can even say a word. You can wait until you round a corner or building to stop running for posterity, or simply stop running once you’ve passed them. Either way, you will have just used an effective dodge technique.
8. Look extremely angry – No one wants to approach an angry person, because angry people don’t want to spend money or sign up for things. If you are approaching some marketers, just get the meanest scowl on your face that you can. If you have some trash, (like an apple core or an empty Starbucks cup), slam it on the ground angrily as you near the group. You can even yell a random expletive if you want to really scare them off. If it’s an army recruiter, you could just show them this defense-budget versus education-budget, and let him know how angry you are about it. Unless of course, the following graph strikes you as a proper allocation of taxpayer dollars.
9. Give THEM a leaflet – Another interesting technique is to actually hand them something instead of taking something from them. This is similar to a well-known Maddox technique of mailing junk mail from one company to another company. All you need is a spare piece of paper. It could be useless notes, old syllabi, or a sheet of paper that simply reads “No” or “I don’t want any.” As you see them reach out to hand you something, just quickly drop the piece of paper in their hand and move on. They will be stunned by the profound way you just turned the tables.
10. Cross the street or sidewalk – This is a more direct way of avoiding people trying to get your money or get you to sign up for things. If you see a group of people all wearing the same t-shirt, RUN. Cross the street, run across the lawn, or go hide behind a building until they are gone. Generally, if you can stay 10 to 15 yards away from them at all times, you’ll be safe.
11. Pretend to be deaf and/or blind – This is more difficult to pull off, but can be done if you have spare dark glasses, a walking stick, or are very good at acting like you can’t hear. If you see a marketing trap in your path, put on some dark glasses, take out your cane and just start tapping the ground. Chances are, they won’t bother you. If you have no cane or glasses available, just make a funny face when they talk to you and start moving your hands like you are communicating via sign language (flipping the bird is also an option, but may elicit a very negative response).
April 17 2009 | College Advice and College Fun and Financial Aid | 1 Comment »
College and Finance is proud to present Part II of “How to Save Thousands of Dollars on the Cost of College,” written by Todd Johnson of College Admissions Partners. In “7 Money Saving Questions to Ask Colleges,” Todd goes through the finer points of financial aid, providing solid suggestions for questions students and parents should be asking. In today’s economy, asking the right questions can save you a significant amount of cash, which is always a good thing.
All right, you have learned the basics of college financial aid. Now you need to know the questions to ask colleges that will help you save money.
7 Money Saving Questions to Ask Your College
1. What percent of my need will you meet?
Remember that EFC, or expected family contribution that the FAFSA determined? Some colleges will meet 100% of your need. Need again is defined as the cost of the college minus your EFC. So what does it mean if a college says they will meet 100% of your need? It means that once the FAFSA or Profile form has determined how much you (and your family) can pay for college, the college will pay 100% of the rest of the bill.
Colleges will typically meet the need you have using a combination of grants, loans and work-study programs. Most colleges will award work-study opportunities and loans first. If there is a need after that, the remaining need will be supplied by grants. The colleges will typically have a standard loan and work study amount that they award. You should ask about what these numbers are when investigating the college.
Let’s see an example of a financial aid award from a college that provides 100% of need with a student who has an EFC of $5,000:
College Financial Aid Information
Total cost of college: $40,000
Expected Family Contribution: $5,000
Work study: $2,000
At a college that meets 100% of your need, with an EFC of $ 5,000, you would only have to pay $5,000. You may be wondering, “but what happens if the college doesn’t meet 100% of need?” Most colleges don’t pay the total amount of need that their students have. Let’s use the example of our imaginary college from above only this time assume that the school only provides 90% of need.
This college only provides 90% of the $35,000 need or $31,500. Thus, your out of pocket expenses are the $5,000 EFC plus an additional $3,500 for a total cost of $8,500. This example makes it easy to see why a school that meets 100% of need is often a better financial aid “deal” than a school who doesn’t meet all of the families need. Many of the most expensive private colleges meet 100% of the students need while cheaper public colleges usually meet less than 100% of the need. This means that for many students it can be cheaper to go to an expensive private college than to attend a cheaper state school. Until you know what percent of need the college meets, don’t eliminate a college from consideration just because it is expensive.
2. Does the college have merit based aid?
Many colleges that don’t meet 100% of a students need do offer scholarships for some students. If your student is near the top of the application pool for a less selective college, they may get some money if they qualify for merit based aid. Thus, in some cases, if the student is willing to look at a less selective college, they may get a better financial aid package. Here are some more questions you should ask if the college provides merit aid.
How many merit awards are available?
What is the value of the merit awards available?
What are the qualifications to receive one of these merit awards?
This works even for families that don’t qualify for need based aid at all. If your student can qualify for a merit based award you won’t need to pay the full stated cost of the college.
3. How is financial aid determined after the first year?
Some colleges have a policy of providing good financial aid for the first year and then substantially reducing the grant aid in the following years while increasing the loans. You should ask the college in which you are interested how they determine financial aid after the first year and what the average loan is after the first year. While it is typical that the amount of loans will increase each year if the increase is substantial you will want to take that into consideration.
4. What is the average loan amount at graduation of those students who have loans?
This question will give you the best indication of the amount of loans that this college requires compared to other colleges in which you may be interested. Although most students will have some loans when they graduate, you don’t want this amount to be any more than necessary.
5.What is your policy regarding outside scholarships?
Outside scholarship are those that come from someplace other than the college. Most colleges will subtract money earned in outside scholarships from your financial aid package. Some colleges will reduce the loan burden by the amount of the scholarship, but other colleges will reduce your grant money. If the college reduces the amount of loans you have to take out that is a benefit to you. There is no benefit to you if the college reduces the grant aid.
6. What is your packaging policy?
Most colleges give a financial aid package that includes grant money, loans and work study. But each college combines this money differently. Specifically you want to know:
What percentage of an aid package from your college is grant vs. self-help (I.E. loans, work study)?
Obviously, the more grants a student can get instead of loans and work study, the better it is for the student.
Does your college have a preferential packaging policy?
Preferential packaging occurs when a college gives a better financial aid package to a student with a stronger academic background than to another student with the same financial need but with a weaker academic background.
7. What is your four year graduation rate?
What difference does a college’s four year graduation rate make? This is an important question that many people never consider. Another way to phrase this is, How many years of college am I going to have to pay for? If the college has a high four year graduation rate, you will most likely only have to pay for four years of college. However, if the college graduates most students in six years then you can plan on paying for six years of college, not four.
The Bottom Line
Now that you know something about financial aid, including the questions to ask each college you are considering, you can make an informed decision in paying for a college education and hopefully save yourself money in the process.
March 09 2009 | College Advice and Financial Advice and Financial Aid | No Comments »
What you need to know about financial aid BEFORE choosing a college
College and Finance is all about giving students and families the best information. With this in mind, Todd Johnson, who is the principal college admission consultant for College Admissions Partners, has written a two-part guest post on saving money via financial aid and other methods (Be sure to check out Part II: 7 Money Saving Questions to Ask Your College, after reading Part I). Todd provides professional and personalized service to help students and families through the complete college admissions and financial aid process. Needless to say, he is well versed on the subject; so without further introduction, here is part one.
With the high cost of a college education, you do not want to pay more than necessary. Yet thousands of families pay too much for college every year because they don’t understand the basics of financial aid and don’t know the right questions to ask. So let’s learn how to save money.
There are three types of financial aid for college:
1. Grants or Scholarships
3. Work-study programs.
– Grants and scholarships are free money that you do not need to pay back. Most grants and scholarships come from the federal and state government or from the individual college.
– Loans need to be paid back after college.
There are many loan programs available from the federal and state government. Most of these loans have fairly low interest rates. There are also private loans available although these generally have a higher interest rate.
– Work-study Programs are jobs offered to students on the campus of the college in order to help them pay their tuition.
The difference between need based financial aid and merit based aid:
– Need-based aid is given by all colleges to students who have demonstrated need. Anyone who can’t pay the full cost of the college has need.
A form called the Free Application for Federal Student Assistance (FAFSA) determines the amount of need for federal grants and scholarships. Many highly selective colleges also require a form known as the Profile form The FAFSA form is filled out after January 1 of the year the student will first attend college.
The FAFSA and Profile forms ask questions about the income of the parents and student using information that you gave on your tax returns. These forms also ask questions about the amount of money you have in savings or investments. The Profile form is more detailed than the FAFSA form. Once these forms are completed, the government uses the FAFSA form to determine how much your family can pay for college. This is your expected family contribution or your EFC. Your EFC is the same regardless of the cost of the college. Similarly, the individual colleges who use the Profile use that form to determine what your family can pay for college.
Your need is the cost of the college you are looking at minus your EFC.
For example, if you are looking at a college that costs $20,000 a year and your EFC is $5,000, your need at that college is $15,000. If you are looking at a college that costs $40,000 a year, your EFC is still $5,000. Your need at this college is $35,000.
– Merit-based aid includes scholarships typically for students who have good grades or have some other special talent such as athletic or musical talent. Most highly selective colleges offer little or no merit-based aid.
When considering which colleges you want to apply to, you should ignore the cost of the college. Yes, you read that right. Ignore the stated cost of the college when you are first deciding which colleges to investigate further. You will see why because in part two where we discuss the questions to ask colleges that will save you thousands of dollars.
March 04 2009 | College Technology and FAFSA and Financial Advice and Financial Aid | 1 Comment »