Hello, and welcome to a new year!
We had an article last fall about the purpose and use of the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Study Aid. The application has just undergone a massive overhaul, and I wanted to take some time to talk through some of the changes.
Here are 12 changes coming to the FAFSA in 2024:
1. Simplified Application Process: The FAFSA will undergo a major overhaul to make it more user-friendly and less time-consuming. The application will be streamlined, reducing the number of questions and making it easier for students and their families to complete.
2. Prior-Prior Year (PPY) Income Data: Starting in 2024, students will be able to use income data from two years prior to the academic year they are applying for. This change aims to provide a more accurate reflection of a family's financial situation and eliminate the need for estimates.
3. Removal of Asset Questions: The FAFSA will no longer require students and their families to report asset...
I received the following question recently:
What is the FAFSA, and how is it used?
Chances are you have heard about the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). There is a lot of confusion surrounding this application and how it is used that I would like to clear up here. There also is a NEW FAFSA that is coming out this December (normally in October), and we'll highlight some of the changes here.
What is it?
The FAFSA has become the foundational tool used by most colleges and universities to evaluate your financial standing. You must complete the online application during the spring of your student’s high school senior year, and again during the spring of each year in college. The information you enter on the FAFSA is based on information you file on the prior prior year’s taxes (so your 2022 income for the 2024-2025 FAFSA).
Your FAFSA, EFC SAI, and COA
The FAFSA produces a number (previously called Expected Family Contribution or...
I received the following question:
Hi! How do you handle the advanced student and how do colleges view young applicants. Is it better to stretch the younger student till the “typical” age before plugging her into high school/college prep classes or just let her “graduate” early and proceed as a young college student? I am conflicted!
It really can be a struggle to decide whether to just challenge a student, or whether to skip them ahead. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, but here are a few questions to ask yourself to help determine which route is best for your family.
1. While your student is advanced academically, are they advanced in maturity? Many times students may be strong academically but are still developing in their self discipline, time management, responsibility and other aspects of personal maturity. They may not be ready to be around college-age students and have the responsibilities of college-level work.
2. Is your student ready to have...
I received a question asking if community service hours have to be done with an official nonprofit, or it can count if you are helping an individual or unofficial organization.
It's a great question, and the answer is a little nuanced.
First off, what kind of school are you applying to? Do they have a holistic application process? If not, then you should have no problems at all. Highly competitive, holistically-evaluating colleges are more likely to care about the specific organization that you volunteer for. However, even in those cases, they are likely still willing to accept and count the service hours for a group that isn't a nonprofit, as long as a name for the group is provided (and possibly contact information).
A lot boils down to how you present the information. It helps a lot if you can provide a letter of recommendation from the individual or group you helped. You can also discuss and explain your volunteer efforts in your essay (depending upon the prompt).
Guest post by Kimball Bullington, Ph.D.
When a new freshman enters college the question of how many hours to take is one that demands an immediate answer. Is there an ideal load? Should I take a light load to make the adjustment to college easier? Should I register for a heavy load and then drop the classes I don’t like?
The search for an ideal load for the beginning freshman begins with a look at the number of hours required to graduate. Divide the number of hours required to graduate by 8 to find the average number of hours you must take in order to graduate in four years without taking summer courses. For instance, if your school requires 120 hours that amounts to 30 hours per year or 15 hours per semester (120 / 8 = 15). The ideal beginning load would be the average number of hours to graduate in four years or slightly above average.
Isn’t it a good idea for beginning freshman to take less so as not to overload and give extra time for the adjustment to college? My...
So how did I get here?
Well to start, this is not what I though I would be doing when I was in high school or college, though I still daily use the skills I acquired along the way.
I was homeschooled all the way through my high-school graduation, and was blessed to have an insider-track on college prep with a dad who was a college professor. This led to several steps that ultimately resulted in me getting paid to go to college:
1. I had a solid academic foundation
2. I had a clear picture of what career path I wanted to pursue
3. I knew the scholarship requirements early-on and set them as goals for myself in my test-prep
4. I was careful to meet the deadlines and make the right connections along the application process, and chose to go to an affordable school (even though I could have gotten into a higher-ranked college)
5. I didn't stop searching for scholarships once I got to college, but kept pursuing funding each semester
My second year of college I started tutoring...
I was paid to go to college. Yep, at the beginning of each semester I received a check from the university as a reimbursement for scholarships I had received in excess of the cost of tuition. Between undergraduate and grad school I received over $500,000 in scholarships, grants, or assistantship awards or offers, and responding to questions about how I received so many scholarships is how I got started as a college prep consultant back in 2007.
It first helps to understand where the primary sources of scholarships are, so that you can create an intentional plan. Here are the four big sources of scholarships, and where to look for them.
While the Federal government does not offer any scholarships, your state government may offer some opportunities you should look into. These vary dramatically by state, but can comprise a substantial portion of the total scholarships available. In most cases, your application for the scholarships will include...
You want to see your child succeed after high-school. You have researched and talked with friends, but there is so much conflicting college prep advice. Which exams should your high-school student take? When should they start preparing? Do you need to sign up for dual enrollment or AP tests? And how can you start preparing for college if your teen doesn't even know what he or she wants to do? What if they want to pursue a career path you don't know anything about? What then? If this sounds familiar then you are in the right place!
I was paid to go to college because I had a clear plan for a career path, and I created UniversityReady to help families be strategic in their approach to career and college preparation!
My heart is to help...
My senior doesn't have many credits left for his senior year and is doing Dual Enrollment, how many Dual Enrollment credits should he take so his transcript doesn't look weak that year?
If your teen is starting credits early in junior high, or if they end up taking very full semesters or a super senior year, it's very easy to end up in a situation where there just aren't many credits left their senior year.
That is normal.
Don't stress out over trying to pad their schedule with a bunch of extra courses. You don't need busywork to get into college. Here are a few considerations when trying to determine how much to take on that senior year:
Is your teen applying to a college that has a holistic application process?
We refer to a college as having a "holistic" application process if they are looking at all angles of the student, not just transcripts and ACT/SAT scores. Many lower tier and state schools are not holistic, so having a bunch of DE course might help some, but not as...
I received the following question this week: What are the pros and cons of earning an associate degree during high school?
There are more and more opportunities to earn college credit while still in high school, even leading up to a full Associate Degree. The person who asked the question lived in one of the growing number of states that offer a free or drastically reduced option for dual enrollment. This sounds great, get a whole Associate Degree while still in high school, but you should carefully consider the pros and cons first!
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