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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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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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Community Service and Passion Lead to Success with College Process

Pursuing a passion and community service involvement are a powerful combination for success with the college process...and a student’s enjoyment of the road to get there!

Colleges want to know who your student is and how they will contribute to their campus.  Involvements reveal a student’s values, character and leadership skills.

As competition for admissions and merit scholarships soars, students who pursue a passion over an extended period are at a big advantage.  Increasingly, students need to present themselves as  “more than their numbers.”   Grades and SAT/ACT scores alone are often not enough.

There are a lot of very smart, high achieving students competing for college admissions.
Students need to set themselves apart beyond academics.  The sooner they pursue a passion or two, the better.

As a merit scholarship judge for one of the world’s highest ranked universities, I have seen how much a student’s passion...

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How High School Juniors Get Ready For the College Process

If you have a high school junior, no one needs to remind you that you’re heading into that exciting, yet daunting world of college applications.   It probably seems unbelievable that you’re next in line to become “one of those parents” who’s experiencing first hand what you’ve heard about for years: the craziness of senior year and the college process.

Wasn’t it only yesterday that they were learning the alphabet?

Whether you’ve had your sights on a particular college – your alma matter, perhaps – or you’re totally open minded about your student’s “best fit,” your rising high school senior needs a strategy.

I was speaking with my brother last week about this exact topic.  With so many “priorities” competing for my niece’s attention, here’s what I told him:

  • Study hard for finals. Second semester of junior year is the last set of grades students will have before...
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How To Pay Less For College When Your Student Refuses To Do Scholarship Applications

Merit scholarships are a great way to pay less for college. But private merit scholarships aren’t the only way to use your student’s achievements and efforts to lower college costs.


I was speaking with a mom today who shared that her son, a high school sophomore, refuses to do “all those” scholarship applications.  This highly successful attorney told him she believes he’ll regret not having more choices about where he can go to college, but it’s his decision to get a job to contribute to the cost of his college education.


She was heart-broken.


She wants the best for her son.  And being able to pay for college is part of her goals.


I first responded by congratulating her and her son for having such an honest conversation about the cost of college.


Then I shared strategies to lower college costs with achievements in other ways that also allow him to contribute the cost of his own college education.

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