Robert Farrington: “Scholarships are the most under-rated tool when it comes to getting money to pay for school … here are my top five secrets for landing scholarships to help you pay for college.” 1) “A few years ago, Fastweb shared that $2.9 billion in grant money went unclaimed simply because people didn’t apply for the FAFSA … When you think about scholarship math in probability and expected value, applying to a lot of scholarships suddenly makes sense.” 2) “On average, about 20% of all applications get disqualified for not following the scholarship application instructions … On the flip side, this really increases the odds for those that do follow the instructions.”
3) “Instead of waiting to the last minute, apply for scholarships early. Even better, plan out a scholarship application calendar and treat it like homework. This will allow you to space out your scholarship applications and hopefully prevent you from missing a deadline.” 4) “When you apply for the scholarship, let others know you applied for it. Show your enthusiasm. Be excited for the organization, the mission, and the opportunity … scholarships are also a form of advertising for the organization. As an entrant in a scholarship, you can help them amplify their message – and this can help get you noticed as well. If the organizer not only sees your scholarship entry, but then they also see your enthusiasm online, it could give you the edge you need to win.”
5) “If you apply to just 20 scholarships, you can have a real chance of getting a substantial amount of money to pay for college.”
The Washington Post: “In just a few weeks, families across the country will find out how much their children will receive in financial aid … This will send students and their parents into a frenzy over how to persuade the colleges to give them more assistance. Negotiating for additional financial aid isn’t easy … But if you want to plead your case for more money, there’s a way to strengthen your argument.” Mark Kantrowitz comments: “Negotiation for more financial aid depends on presenting a college financial aid office with documentation of special circumstances that affect the family’s ability to pay.”
“Here’s the reality: Most demands for more money fail — miserably. Although appeals are seldom successful, you have a slightly better chance at private nonprofit schools and high-cost colleges, which often have a policy of providing more aid to needy students … If, however, your financial circumstances have changed, it’s worthwhile to submit an appeal. A number of special circumstances can affect a family’s ability to pay. These include a recent job loss or salary reduction, unusually high child-care expenses, or medical costs not covered by health insurance.”
“Kantrowitz provides useful suggestions on writing an appeal letter, including the do’s and don’ts. For example, don’t ask for a specific amount of money. Do detail a significant financial hardship.”
CNBC: “According to the College Board’s 2018 Trends in College Pricing Report, from 1988 to 2018, sticker prices tripled at public four-year schools and doubled at public two-year and private non-profit four-year schools … During the 2018 – 2019 school year, the reported tuition at private non-profit four-year schools is an average $35,830. But in reality, many students end up paying far less. Here’s how. College ‘sticker prices’ include tuition, fees, room and board (TFRB) and do not account for scholarships, grants and tax benefits … students typically pay less than the published price.”
“In fact, the average net price of tuition and fees in 2019 is $14,610 at private nonprofit four-year schools. These students typically receive an average $21,220 in grant aid and tax benefits. Similar discounts are also in effect at public colleges. During the 2018 – 2019 school year, the reported sticker price for in-state students is $10,230 at public four-year schools, but the average net tuition and fees is closer to $3,740.”
However: “Many students underestimate the cost of living expenses when they go to college … more than a third of students struggle with basic needs such as food and housing. Prospective students also often overlook graduation rates when they are considering colleges, but they can be an important measures of a school’s quality and cost … just 40 percent of first-time full-time bachelor’s students earn their degree in four years, and only 59 percent earn their bachelor’s in six years … students may want to estimate what six years of tuition and fees will cost them at schools with low four-year graduation rates, and be mindful of planning their schedules and making the most of AP and other college credits.”
With so much attention diverting to the deep, dark underside of higher education, let’s take a moment to shine a light on a hometown hidden gem: Norwalk Community College. NCC may not project much as a status symbol, but it certainly deserves serious consideration by certain high-schoolers. Surprisingly, this includes the highest performing students.
Here’s why: The most selective universities favor applicants who not only take advantage of everything their high schools have to offer, but who also pursue additional opportunities above and beyond the norm. Students who want to impress dream schools with their passion for learning should think about enrolling in a high-level course or two at NCC. Their application will be all the more outstanding and memorable for it.
NCC is, of course, best known as a place for those who are just not quite ready for a four-year college experience. This could be because of academic issues, financial considerations, emotional state, or some other personal reason. For such students and others, NCC offers an attractive pathway to a four-year college. For one thing, it maintains a special arrangement with UConn, which guarantees transfer admission to NCC associate-degree graduates with at least a 3.0. Not bad! For another, it provides a low-cost way to earn college credits before transferring to a four-year school.
At a two-year tuition cost of about $9,000, students can take care of basic college requirements on their way to a bachelor’s degree at one of America’s finer universities, up to and including the Ivy League. It’s a fact: NCC grads have been known to go onto Columbia, Yale and other highly selective schools. Indeed, many elite schools pride themselves on accepting community college grads.
Sadly, community colleges are often dismissed and even derided. That’s not only unfair, but outdated and just plain wrong. Right here, in our own backyard, is a local treasure, Norwalk Community College. Can you dig it?
Times Union: “To broaden college access and affordability, lawmakers have in the past pushed for a ‘pre-paid’ plan that would let families lock in tuition for their kids by paying in advance … So far, 11 states have added pre-paid components to their 529 savings plans, according to the Rockefeller Institute study. Those include a plan in Massachusetts that lets savers lock in half of their future tuition: If tuition was, say, $10,000 today, a $5,000 Tuition Certificate would be guaranteed to cover 50 percent of tuition — no matter how much the tuition cost increases in the future.”
“Florida, which has the nation’s largest pre-paid, plan lets parents lock in tuition at a state school from a child’s birth. At the current rate, families that paid $186.28 per month from the child’s arrival would cover tuition and fees for 120 credits, enough to earn a bachelor’s degree.”
“A November report by the Brookings Institution found that parents accumulating six-figure loans for their children are making up a record share of borrowers for college loans … Not everyone is convinced that pre-paid programs are the answer. The New York Public Interest Research Group believes more financial aid is needed. It’s unclear what schools overall think of pre-payment plans … One potential challenge the schools might be contemplating: If costs go up faster than expected, schools might face a financial gap if a lot of families have locked in their tuition rates.”
Forbes: “For decades, the cost of college in the US has risen meteorically. But now, a four-year degree has become so expensive that some colleges and universities think costs have hit somewhat of ceiling – and are slashing tuition by as much as 50% in hopes they can attract more students .. So far the move – known as a “tuition reset” – has had middling results. Only 27% of schools studied by the Education Advisory Board that had employed tuition resets as a strategy managed to sustain enrollment gains of 5% or more. In addition, only 29% of schools managed to meet a 3% revenue growth target following their tuition reset.”
“Small, private, liberal arts institutions are predominantly the ones electing to adopt tuition resets. Ten schools pursued the strategy this year, and four have already announced cuts for 2019-2020. Seton Hall University, a private Catholic school, slashed tuition by 61% in 2012-2013. Sweet Briar College, a women’s liberal arts institution in Virginia that announced it would close in 2015 – and was resurrected by alumnae the next year – reduced tuition by 32% this year.”
“The College of William and Mary, an elite public school in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1999 was among the first to pursue a reset, though the concept has become trendy just in the last few years. More than four dozen schools used the tactic in the past decade, and more are likely to follow.”