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Why you don't need to feel guilty about saying 'no' to paying too much for college

Uncategorized Jan 13, 2020

It’s no secret that the cost of college keeps going up – about 4% EVERY YEAR.

And you probably also know that 40,000 students are drowning in $1.5 trillion of college debt. Many graduate with $30,000 or more in college debt that takes decades to repay.

But, that’s only the students’ debt…their parents and grandparents are at $298.5 million in the hole. For adults over 50, college debt is even more crippling because they have less time to recover. 

My perspective has become even clearer since 2011 when I began helping families like mine who earn too much for financial aid and need (or want) solutions to rising college costs that don’t involve college debt, depleting savings, or spending retirement money.

Our three daughters had already won $600,000 in merit scholarships – money for college based on achievement – when other parents asked for my help. 

In short, more and more parents (and grandparents) need to reduce the...

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How Much Will Their Top Choice College Cost?

Uncategorized Dec 22, 2019

It’s no secret that the cost of college keeps increasing.

And you may know that on average, college costs are continuing to rise between 3-5% each year. 

So how can you predict how much your student’s top-choice college (or your top-choice school for them) will cost by the time that first tuition payment is due?

Follow these simple steps to uncover how much the sticker price is likely to be. 

1     Choose one college at a time.

2     Go to the financial or admissions page on that college’s website to find the current cost of attendance.  That includes tuition, fees, room & board, etc.

3     For every year between today and when they’ll begin college, multiply the cost of attendance by 4% to discover the cost of that first year of college at that school. (The national average increase is 4% per year). 

4     Unless that college offers “Fixed Rate...

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7 Secrets (and Surprise Benefits) of Merit Scholarships

Uncategorized Dec 10, 2019

Secret #1 -- You don’t earn too much.

You don’t earn too much – or have too much – for your student to win merit scholarships.  Merit aid is awarded for achievement…not finances.  Even students from the wealthiest families can win big, renewable merit scholarships. 

So many families miss out on all the benefits of merit aid because they mistakenly believe that they must prove they need the money for college.  But it’s your student’s achievements, uniqueness, and efforts that qualify them for merit scholarships – not your family’s financial situation.

This secret is perhaps the biggest stumbling block that keeps well-deserving students from lots of money for college that doesn’t get paid back.  Families in all financial situations can enjoy the peace of mind knowing they are creating options for how much they pay for college. 

Secret #2 – Merit aid starts in elementary school

As crazy as...

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Busting Merit Scholarships Myths

Merit scholarships are a powerful tool for helping families pay for college, but myths persist about who can and can’t earn them.

Merit aid is money for college based on a students’ efforts and achievements, not their (or their parents’) financial situation.

Unlike loans, scholarship money does not get paid back. Colleges or private entities want to support the educational goals of students who have demonstrated a variety of characteristics or achievements.

Merit aid can be awarded to wealthy as well as middle-class families who don’t qualify for need-based financial aid. It can also go to students from lowincome families. It’s based on a student’s accomplishments, academic or otherwise. They don’t have to be geniuses or athletes to earn a merit scholarship.

It’s never too soon to start looking into obtaining merit aid. Your child can begin using their achievements to lower the cost of college as early as middle school, if not before....

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The First Step to Paying Less for College

Uncategorized Sep 13, 2018

There’s one important, often overlooked, step in college planning that all families must do first if their kids are going to end up at the right college…at the right price.

And ideally, they’ll do it when their students are in middle school for the best results.

The first step for designing any plan is to “start with the end in mind,” advised Stephen Covey in his bestseller, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

That’s true of college planning, too…especially if you earn too much for financial aid.

Before families can create a plan and know which strategies to follow, they need to know what they are trying to achieve.  

The first step in creating a plan that covers getting into college and paying for college is for each parent to get very clear about their own values and priorities and to then share those objectives with the other parent.  

That may sound simple, or even obvious.  But it often isn’t....

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How to Get Merit Scholarships

Merit scholarships give all students an opportunity to use their achievements to contribute to the cost of college.Depending on whether they are pursuing merit aid from private sources or from colleges, students will use different strategies and different achievements to win money for college.

The family’s finances have nothing to do with winning merit scholarships. Instead, students can use their achievements, involvements, community service, passions, academics and other qualities to pursue money for college that never has to be paid back.

The two types of merit scholarships offer different benefits and reward different types of achievements. Private merit scholarships are typically not based on grades or academics. Instead, organizations reward almost everything else about a student, including community service, hobbies, passions, challenges, goals, heritage, religion, and more.

Meanwhile, colleges and universities use institutional merit scholarships to encourage students...

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College Tuition Money Saving Secrets to Combat Soaring College Costs

I’m honored to have been published in Financial Advisor Magazine, the resource for some of our nation’s sharpest financial leaders.

Click right here to read my article: Help Clients Combat Soaring College Costs

If you want to learn how to reduce the amount of money you need to take from their savings, retirement and investment accounts to pay for college.

Email me at [email protected] and tell me your biggest takeaway.


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College Visit Checklist

College visits are important. They can be fun as well as informative.

Planning ahead will make the visit more productive and ensure that you and your student get the information you need.

When should you go?

You may decide to visit colleges before your student applies; wait until after they've been admitted; or do a little of each.

Visiting early in the college process will allow you to save on admissions application fees as well as spare your student from wasting time on applications for schools they wouldn't attend even if they were to be admitted.

Plus, if your student visits before submitting their application, they can incorporate something about visiting their campus into their essay and demonstrate their deep interest in that school.

However, traveling for college visits can be expensive and time consuming, depending how far you go and how many schools you tour.

Meanwhile, some families choose to only visit schools after their student has been accepted. This strategy avoids...

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How to Ace a Skype Scholarship Interview

Whether it’s for a scholarship, admissions, internship or a job, interviews offer a great opportunity to showcase your personality, character, passion and qualifications.  Interviews provide a great opportunity to connect with judges beyond the written word.

I often coach students to present themselves as likeable in their essays.  The same is true for interviews.  Scholarship judges, admissions officers and employers, are people after all. And it’s only natural that we want people we like to succeed.

That’s especially true when you are competing for money for college.  With the cost of college up another 3-5% nationwide over last year, there are a lot of deserving students looking for ways to pay less.

            “Getting into college is one thing.  Paying for it is another.” ®

By definition, merit scholarships provide money for college based on achievement. ...

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Rising College Costs Can Benefit Teens

Skyrocketing college costs definitely cause a lot of hardship for a lot of families.

And the $1.5 trillion of student college debt is a huge problem with many negative consequences.

But what if the rising cost of college also created opportunities that can benefit our students in the long run?

The high price of college is causing (or forcing) more families to talk to their teens about the cost of college and requiring them to pitch in to make their own goals a reality.

Is that such a bad thing?

Merit scholarships are awarded for achievement – not the student’s financial situation.  That’s good news.  It means that all students can benefit from having “skin in the game” and using their own efforts to lower the cost of college.

Merit aid must be deserved.  And that’s good news, too.

Sure, the cost of college is on the rise.  But it’s been expensive for a long time with costs up 1120% since 1978.  The continued price...

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