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6 Ways Rising HS Seniors Can Prep for College This Summer



If you’re going to be a high school senior this fall, getting a head start on your college admissions to-do list is a great way to spend your summer. But as most students are aware, this summer presents unprecedented challenges, preventing students from taking on the standard activities like touring colleges and working paid jobs. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find creative ways to prep for college admissions season.

If you’re finishing up your junior year of high school, consider these six tips for summer college planning.

Create Your College List

One of the most important to-do items before the fall should be narrowing down the list of colleges where you plan to apply. Make sure you have a good mix of safety, match and reach schools on the list, and take into consideration the features that are important to you. Keep such factors as college size, majors offered, distance from home, sports and other activity opportunities in mind, and do as much research online as possible about those schools so you can find out which might be the best fit for you.

Demonstrate Interest in the Colleges You’ve Listed

Many colleges consider “demonstrated interest” when making admissions decisions, so you’ll want to show each college on your list that you are truly interested in the school and you haven’t just haphazardly added it to your list. Even if you can’t visit campuses in person, you can connect virtually with schools and register for online information sessions and virtual tours, says Jodi Siegel, a college admissions consultant with College Bound in Potomac, Md., and former admissions officer at George Washington University.

“There are online college fairs, some colleges have offered Q&A sessions with current students and faculty members, and you can find virtual tours at almost every school,” she says. “Those all count toward demonstrated interest when admission officers evaluate your application.”

Think Outside the Box for Activities

Although you aren’t likely to be headed to camp or taking on an internship this summer, you can still find activities to list on your college application if you think outside the box, says Terry Mady-Grove, president of Charted University Consultants. “Start by asking why you wanted to do whatever was planned. Is this still of interest? Or has COVID-19 changed your thinking? This change may present opportunities.”

For instance, she says, if that great summer program or research project has gone online and you are not tired of online learning, then take the class. “Colleges are doing everything possible to make these experiences as enriching and fun as possible including virtual field trips. So, no, you will not get to live on a college campus, but if the program is done well, you will be able to interact with professors, meet other students and learn about something that interests you. I suggest before signing up you have a clear understanding of exactly how the program will be run and how potentially being in a different time zone will affect the experience.”

You can also help others during the summer. “If you were looking forward to being a camp counselor, think of other ways that you and friends can engage with children, Mady-Grove notes. “Contact parent groups and be creative. Set up a morning Zoom meeting with a few friends and read stories to young children or play games. This would give young children something to look forward to and give parents a break. Or help the other end of the age spectrum and organize a chain of phone calls to the elderly on a regular schedule. Ask seniors to tell you a bit about their childhood and you tell them about yours.”

Rising seniors might also consider focusing on personal growth. “Do something that you never thought you had time to do. Learn a language. Learn to play an instrument. Teach yourself to cook. There are many free online courses.”

The bottom line is that college planning includes discovering who you are and what you value, notes Mady-Grove. “By keeping engaged, you will discover more about yourself — this will make finding that right fit college much easier for you and that is the best college planning that you can do.”

Continue Your Test Prep Plans

Although some colleges have gone test optional for the 2020-2021 admissions cycle, many have not, and will still expect you to submit test scores with your application. In addition, some students — particularly those who traditionally perform very well on standardized exams — may hope to get an admissions edge from submitting test scores with their applications.

Most tutors have moved to online instruction, Siegel says, so you can continue your test prep plans by meeting virtually with your tutor and studying for these tests from home. Currently, the SAT is scheduled for August and the ACT is expected to take place in September, but both the College Board and the ACT have said they may roll out digital, at-home versions of the exams this fall.

“To prepare for the possibility of taking standardized tests digitally, students should take some practice tests online this summer and become accustomed to the digital format,” Siegel says.

She also advises students to speak with their current high school teachers and find out whether online high school courses may have created any gaps in the subject material that could lead to a more challenging test prep regimen. “For instance, if you’re finishing up Algebra II, ask the teacher if any concepts were left out of the online curriculum that you might want to address this summer to better prepare for the Math portion of the SAT or ACT.”

Start Your Essays, Applications

Both the Common Application and the Coalition Application have released the main essay topics for the upcoming admissions season, so you can start writing those essays this summer, Siegel advises. In addition, many colleges will open their applications this summer, so you can begin filling those out when they’re released. Colleges roll out supplemental essays at different times, but once yours come out, you can start working on those as well, she adds.

Build Your Resume, Portfolio

You can start creating your college resume and your activities list this summer, documenting the things that were meaningful to you. If you don’t have many activities to share and were hoping to build up that roster this summer, there are still opportunities to take on extracurriculars, she notes. “Not only are there virtual opportunities, but think about whether there are jobs you might be able to safely take on,” she says. For instance, mowing lawns or cleaning pools could be an option.

In addition, if you are applying to a program that requires a portfolio, you can get that together and start polishing it this summer. “Don’t wait to start on a portfolio, because once school starts back up in the fall, it will be hard to juggle that with your classes, test prep and everything else going on.”

By: Elena Loveland
Title: 6 Ways Rising HS Seniors Can Prep for College This Summer
Sourced From:
Published Date: Tue, 12 May 2020 14:06:14 +0000

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Apply Online For Student Loans



Apply Online For Student Loans

Applying online for student loans is a convenient and efficient way to secure funding for your education. Whether you are facing financial difficulties or simply want to keep your debts to a minimum, student loans can help alleviate the financial burden while you focus on your studies.

One of the main advantages of student loans is that they typically offer lower interest rates compared to other types of loans. Additionally, repayment is often deferred until after you graduate, giving you time to establish your career and increase your income potential.

By applying online, you have access to a wider range of lenders, allowing you to compare different loan offers and choose the one that best suits your needs. Look for lenders offering competitive interest rates, flexible repayment terms, and any additional incentives that may be available.

Student loans can be used to cover various expenses related to your education, including tuition fees, housing, course materials, and living expenses. While your personal bank may be willing to provide a student loan, applying online gives you more options and potentially better terms.

However, it’s important to remember that student loans are still loans, and you should borrow responsibly. It’s advisable to budget regularly and avoid unnecessary purchases or luxuries to ensure you can manage your loan repayments in the future.

Before applying for student loans, explore other options such as scholarships, grants, or parental funding. These resources can help reduce the amount you need to borrow and minimize your financial obligations.

Lastly, it’s crucial to have confidence in your ability to secure a salary that will enable you to meet your loan repayments after graduation. Work hard to achieve the grades and qualifications necessary for your desired career, as this will increase your chances of finding a well-paying job.

In conclusion, applying online for student loans can provide you with the financial support needed to pursue your education. However, it’s important to borrow responsibly, explore other funding options, and plan for a successful career to ensure you can manage your loan repayments effectively.

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Webinar Recap: How COVID-19 is Affecting Financial Aid



Many families are facing new financial challenges in light of the coronavirus emergency, and College Confidential has fielded dozens of questions on this topic recently. To address those queries, we hosted a webinar on April 9 entitled “Paying for College Amid Changes Due to the Impact of COVID-19.”

During the event, moderated by Aaron Murphy, manager of learning and development with Inside Track, the following panelists offered their perspectives on the issue:

  • Denise Trusty, director of financial aid with Morehead State University
  • Laura Reisert Kalinkewicz, associate vice president of college partnerships with RaiseMe
  • Amy Nelson, director of sales at International Scholarship and Tuition Services
  • Charlie Javice, founder and CEO of Frank.

Check out the following topics that the panelists discussed, along with their views of how things may unfold amid the financial challenges brought on by the coronavirus outbreak.

Family Finances Changed? Contact Your Schools

If you plan to start college in the fall as a freshman — or return to school as an existing student — and your financial situation has changed since you applied for financial aid, you should contact the colleges on your list immediately. Financial aid departments can consider appeals for more money, but must base these decisions on each individual student’s situation, Trusty said.

“I know with Morehead State, where I work, we will be doing professional judgement calls on all students who say they’ve been affected,” she noted. “We will reach out to those students to see what we can do to help them maybe obtain additional funding, additional grants, scholarships, whatever they would be eligible for. We do professional judgment all the time for our students, because things happen all the time. This year will be an especially large amount of those, I’m sure, but those are up to individual schools to make that call for their students.”

In addition, she added, the Department of Education has set aside over $6 billion for additional grants and scholarships that the universities will be able to use. “Currently, I don’t know how that’s all going to play into this,” Trusty said. “So that will be up to each individual university on how they lay those out. I know it will be beneficial, I just don’t know how available that will be to each student.”

Keep in mind that schools are accustomed to reviewing financial aid appeals, and they all have processes in place for to do so. “It is really, really important to know that schools typically leave a budget from 10 percent to 20 percent or so of their financial aid dollars for what would be called a professional judgment bucket,”Javice said. “Therefore, there is additional money to be had, and it’s up to you to request it. You should approach your school as soon as you know you might need more money, and be prepared to show supporting documentation demonstrating how your finances are different from when you filed your FAFSA initially. This might require proof of a job loss, medical bills, a cut in pay or another such issue, Javice said.

In addition, if another school gave you a better financial offer, you can petition the school that gave you the lower offer for more money, Javice noted. “This typically works better for private institutions versus public state schools, given the fact that they have a little bit more discrepancy and more dollars to put to work in terms of a tuition discount,” she added. “This is solely up to the school on a case by case basis.” In some cases, the money is distributed on a first come, first serve timeline, so don’t wait if you know you need more aid.

Although financial aid can be a stressful topic, try not to be emotional when you request more money, Javice added. You’ll get a lot further by having organized documentation to present than you would by getting angry or upset, she noted.

Consider Outside Scholarships

The coronavirus situation has changed plans not only for incoming freshmen, but also for current college students, Nelson said. “Organizations are stepping up and trying to find ways to provide additional scholarship opportunities this year,” she noted. Students should be proactive in seeking those options.

Raise Me is offering new micro-scholarships for students who are seeking additional funding sources, Kalinkewicz said. In addition, she encourages students to ask colleges for more time to make decisions, even if the school hasn’t extended its deposit process. You can always try and request additional time to get your financial aid package right, she noted.

Finding more money is not relegated to younger students, Javice added. “Adult learners comprise the biggest group of people actually going to college today,” she noted. It’s very common for people to be seeking new types of skills and going back to college to gain additional degrees. Financial aid is available to adult learners, and they may even get aid to pay such costs as rent, she added. In addition, they can seek outside scholarships or employer-matching funds to pay for their educations.

Not Necessarily Too Late to File FAFSA

Students who didn’t file a FAFSA already should do that as soon as possible so you can get access to financial aid funds, Javice said. Federal FAFSA deadlines are usually in June, but states make their own deadlines for state aid. Some states, such as New Jersey, have moved their deadlines back for this year, so check to make sure you stay on top of your deadlines.

And if you file for financial aid and you decide you don’t want it, you can always decline the financial offer or portions of that offer, Nelson said. Your best bet is to apply so you can take what you need and decline any amounts you don’t need. Even if you don’t think you qualify for financial aid, you should apply anyway because you could be surprised at what you’re offered. “You really need to complete that [FAFSA] process every year,” Nelson said. “The process is very easy, and jobs can come and go. It’s your safety net and you want to make sure you’ve completed it. It makes it a whole lot easier when situations like this arise.”

Some colleges also have supplemental applications to fill out for particular types of aid, so always reach out to your financial aid office for information on which documentation you should be completing, Kalinkewicz said.

Could Families — Not Schools — Be in the Driver’s Seat?

Because many merit scholarships are based on test scores and GPAs, some high school juniors are concerned that they won’t have access to those in the coming year. With test dates being canceled and grades moving to pass/fail, they fear they won’t meet the criteria to earn such scholarships.

“It’s clear to me that colleges and universities know the extraordinary circumstances we’re under,” Nelson said. “All schools are leaning forward and considering all options as the situation develops. I would continue to encourage juniors to stay engaged and stay informed.” You should also watch to see what happens with test dates, she said. The ACT and SAT dates could change, and some schools may forego the need for a test score altogether, she added.

In addition, some merit scholarships that have traditionally been based on test scores may become test optional, Kalinkewicz noted.

Keep in mind that in many cases, families are in the driver’s seat rather than having the colleges be in charge, Javice said. Some schools have lost revenue and are very eager for students right now, “so if you are scared because you thought you could never get into a specific school from an admission criteria standpoint, this is your year to stretch, this is your year to think about the schools that are your reach category and go for it, because schools need the money and need the students. So the power that used to be in an admissions office is in you, the student or the family’s hands,” she said.

She also advises juniors to request application waivers from schools to save the $50 to $100 or so per application that they would normally pay. The schools may say no, but it won’t hurt to ask, she advised. “Persistence is key when dealing with schools,” Javice noted.

Federal Student Loans Payment Suspended

As many families are aware, payments on federal student loans are automatically suspended from March 13 through September 30, 2020 thanks to the government’s CARES Act. This is essential to keep in mind, particularly for families that have multiple children in various stages of the college process.

“You will stop paying your loans and you will have zero interest from now until September 30, and that’s important for parents to know,” Nelson said regarding existing federal student loans. “If you had an auto draft, the auto draft has been shut off and will not continue. You can, however, continue to make those payments if you’d like, and any interest you had before March 13, once that interest is paid up, all your payments will go directly toward your principal.” She advises families with federally-backed loans to check with their loan servicing agents, because they have a lot of information for both parent and student borrowers on how the CARES Act will impact payments for the next six months.

Student Job Gone? Colleges Might Help

For students who expect to earn money via part-time or full-time work to pay for college, but can’t do so due to the coronavirus, colleges may have resources to help. “There are many colleges and universities that have put together emergency grants for students to cover expenses that they were maybe not expecting because of COVID-19,” Nelson said. “They are making accommodations to try and make up for that lost income for students.”

Trusty said Morehead State is continuing to pay students who were on federal work-study. “If they had a job, we are still paying them right now as if they were working, although they are not. In the summer, those funds will be flipped over to emergency grant funds. So we will make sure that our students are covered and can live as if they were employed with the work-study position.”

Some colleges have even made remote work available to students, Kalinkewicz added. Therefore, contact your financial aid office to determine if any accommodations are available to make up for lost student income whenever possible.

Consider Other Options to Save

If you are seeking ways to save money on college, you should also consider other resources, whether that means less expensive colleges, in-state options or potentially transferring down the road, Janice said. You can also save money by taking classes at a community college to pay a lower cost for your credits that can be transferred to a four-year college later.

“If you have that target institution in mind — maybe you’ve already been admitted there but your family has determined a year of community college will really help stretch things further — work on articulation agreements or a plan so you are taking the right classes that actually have the ability to transfer toward the degree you want at your target institution, not necessarily just as credit,” Kalinkewicz said.

In addition, many colleges offer merit aid for transfer students, she added. So always look for every potential financial aid and scholarship resource to best maximize your package and allow your dollars to stretch as far as possible.

Resource: To review the entire hour-long webinar, you can watch the replay here.

Share Your Thoughts

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Check out our forum to contribute to the conversation!

By: Torrey Kim
Title: Webinar Recap: How COVID-19 is Affecting Financial Aid
Sourced From:
Published Date: Fri, 10 Apr 2020 15:22:20 +0000

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