Frequently Asked Questions
In order to know the rules of the game, it is important to know and understand these questions and the answers to them.
Many frequently asked questions respond to a short answer. Some of the others require more depth. We recommend that you seek the answers in depth and use this section as a quick referral and reminder for answers.
Click on the blue links to reveal the answers
What is the amount of my Expected Family Contribution (EFC)?
This is the amount the federal financial aid (FAFSA) and private colleges (CSS) systems believe I can pay for college based on my income and assets.
Can my EFC amount go lower which increases my financial need by implementing proven financial strategies?
Over 5,500 in-depth costs analyses demonstrate that the average family can average an increase their financial need by over $4,500 per year or $18,000 over 4 years.
When do I need to implement these strategies?
Best to implement many financial strategies before January 1 of the student's junior year. This will avoid unwanted footprints like capital gains on your taxes during the student's base year for financial aid. Strategies can also be implemented from January 1 of student's junior year.
Will increased financial need lower my college cost? By how much?
This depends on the colleges you are considering and the amount of your Expected Family Contribution. Increased financial need can increase student awards by $.80 to $1.00 per dollar of increase.
Will increased financial need open up private colleges in terms of affordability?
Usually, unless your Expected Family Contribution is greater than the cost of the college or less than the amount you will end up paying after your student accesses scholarship money from that college.
How can I access this financial need information for my situation?
In this website, you will be able to access the information you complete to receive a Financial Need Analysis and Student Marketability Assessment. This can be e-mailed to College Bound Funding and will be treated with total privacy. No information will be shared with any other person, business or institution. You will receive a response detailing your EFC, lowered EFC if you implement strategies, and a business plan pointing out which pathways will help you attain your college goals.
PSAT tests. Why take it? When should you sign up? Should students study for PSAT's?
Take PSAT's at the end of grade 10 and start of grade 11. Sign up 6 weeks before the test date. Be sure to get your high school code before going on line to register for the test. Low-income, usually those who qualify for school lunch, need to request a fee waiver from their school two months in advance. Studying usually helps.
Is the student taking the high school courses needed to enter a four year college?
Consult your high school counselor. Compare this to the colleges you are considering.
SAT test. Why take it? How many times should I take it? When should I sign up?
Take SAT's at the end of grade 11. Seriously consider an effective SAT prep course that will raise the score so colleges see improvement rather than setting a cap on student performance. Sign up 6 weeks before the test date. Be sure to get your high school code before going on line to register for the test. Low-income, usually those who qualify for free/reduced school lunch, need to request a fee waiver from their school two months in advance.
How much can the student earn before decreasing financial need? Will this matter?
Currently student of middle income families can earn up to $4,300 per year. It matters if the lowered financial need will develop into grant money. A Financial Need Analysis will be specific regarding your situation.
Should the student take the ACT? Will studying help?
Some students perform better on the ACT than the SAT. Colleges take both tests. Take the ACT once and the SAT 2 to 3 times because scores on the SAT's usually increase with familiarity and with classes designed to help.
Which activities build a successful college profile?
Colleges are looking for bright leaders who give back to the community (dies rich and leaves money to the college). I believe leadership, awards, community service, sports, jobs, AP / IB classes and school activities help.
Which is more important: higher grades or IB/AP classes?
Usually IB and AP classes if they are weighted by the high school.
How do we, the family, select colleges for our student?
Look at level of college excellence, geography, size, arena of study. Screen with phone calls, visits, and talking to existing students. Trust your student's gut feeling regarding visits. You can find a section on college visitation on this web site. It is critical to know if you have financial need and how much before screening colleges. Understand that some colleges meet financial need only and others also include merit/scholarship money for awards. Obtain a college script to assist with screening colleges for financial and college & student matching issues.
When should we begin selecting colleges?
Start in February of grade 11with a longer list and pare it down to 6-8 colleges.
Is there a process that is more successful than other in terms of financial assistance?
Yes. Sign up for the free newsletters so you stay on schedule. Continue to read this web site. Follow its recommendations which have been refined for maximum impact for 16 years.
Does the student need to know what they are majoring in before selecting colleges?
Around 75% of college students will switch their major. Some majors like engineering and nursing need to be selected in the freshman year. Think of 4 arenas of study: 1) Engineering and computer sciences. 2) Art, drama, music, acting. 3) Liberal arts. 4) Sciences and math.
How and when do families and students select and contact our final college selections?
Sign up for the newsletters. Continue to follow the schedule and its recommendations.
How many colleges should students apply to?
Six to ten colleges are sufficient.
Which ones are best for that student? Why?
Colleges that are a match: (1) where the student feels at home in a college setting and (2) colleges that nurture and individualize students are best. If that is not happening your student has a higher chance of dropping out or switching colleges which is expensive. Explore the section on college visitation.
When should college applications be turned in?
In October and November of grade 12.
Is early decision a good idea?
It's rare that this is a good idea. Why would you want to erode your bargaining position or abandon a choice that may be less expensive?
Should students take the ACT? How many times?
Take the ACT once.
How many SAT's should a student take?
Two to three times is suficent. Students should study the SAT to improve their score each time because getting the same score a couple times can tell the college that the student has reached their maximum level at that score.
Who needs to take SATII's? What subject should the student pick?
The SATII's or subject tests are used only by the higher level schools and the University of California system schools. Make sure you know which schools you are considering prior to taking SAT II's.
Where do students look for scholarships they can really win?
First take care of the four steps which accesses money through the colleges you are applying to. This is over 91% of the available money. Seven percent comes through employers and military. About one to two percent is accessed through outside sources found in scholarship searches. Keep the student's search local, use the high school and any association the parent may have such as employer, church, clubs, veterans, etc.
Only 1 out of 100 college essays is effective. Will your student's essay earn college award money?
The college essay is very important for college entry and even for additional money. Make sure the essay demonstrates originality, is fun to read, and markets the student as a critical thinker with a unique vision. See our essay section
How do students obtain the perfect letter of recommendation rather than the standard letter?
Information is very specific in the "college applications" or phase six newsletters for seniors.
What kind of student resume are colleges looking for?
Colleges are looking for a bright leader who gives back to the community. Explore the sections on packaging and marketing the student. There is a product for constructing a college resume.
Can you name the 8 items that acceptance to good colleges are based on?
Grades and course of study. Colleges like AP and IB classes.
Test scores from SAT's and/or ACT's
What happens when the parent calls the college? Did you bring the college to "Yes?" This is why we create custom phone scripts for clients.
What happens when the student calls the college? Does the student display critical thinking skills? Does the student stand out? Will the student be remembered?
What occurs when the student visits the college?
Is the student essay one that sells?
Are the letters of recommendation personal or the cookie cutter letter. Follow this system and newsletters including the October newsletter for seniors.
Does the marketed student continue to tastefully remind the college they are still available?
Do students need to visit targeted colleges? When?
Yes. Never attend a college you have not visited. Visitation is not only a marketing tool but it is also a screening tool.
When do you complete the FAFSA? Will you be among the 22% who complete it correctly?
Follow the College Bound Planner schedule. Get a college Financial Need Analysis. You may discover you can increase your financial need. Line-by-line answers to the FAFSA, delivered in December, can accompany this service. The February newsletter will remind parents how to adjust a few income line items after they have completed their taxes and change the estimated FAFSA to the final FAFSA.
How can your student be among the 10% who get their fair share of college award money?
Follow the four pathways. Implement the strategies.
What is a CSS form? Will you need to file a CSS form?
About 360 private colleges nationwide ask for the CSS financial aid form. It is more personally invasive and much more difficult to complete. This question should be asked of each college you are considering. The CSS financial aid profile also included your home equity and earnings of a non-custodial parent in their calculation of the Expected Family Contribution. It usually raises the EFC and, therefore, is considered a financial harvesting tool. A FInancial Needs Analysis will tell you if using our proven financial strategies will bring your EFC amount for the CSS Financial Aid Profile into the same zone as your EFC amount for the FAFSA.
How does FAFSA apply to your college financial award?
After completing the FAFSA, print your information out including the confirmation page which contains your EFC amount. The Student Aid Report (SAR) is issued a couple weeks after FAFSA application. Colleges listed on your FAFSA access this information.
When do financial awards arrive?
Awards usually arrive late march and early April of grade 12. Schools want your final selection by April 30th. Many colleges send out scholarships in February and early March hoping to attract students even prior to issuing a full award. The correct response to this scholarship is a marketing opportunity for the student.
Can you negotiate with a college for more money?
This happens often. There are special circumstances, awards from other colleges and recent changes in family income (recession proof your college cost) that can be taken into consideration. Usually the basis for negotiations were set up a year earlier by packaging and marketing the student. See the sections on packaging and marketing the student and special circumstances.