Recently I did a quick Instagram Live and outlined a few important components of the college prep process that might easily get overlooked, some of my followers needed clarity on or, were just insights that you may not have thought of. Read on....
Whatever email address is on your daughter's college application is where ALL correspondence from the school will come. Some schools may issue your daughter special login info for the school’s portal. Imagine the information that she could be missing out on (requests for additional information to consider her application for colleges or scholarships she's applied for, orientation or deposit dates, Free Application For Federal Student Aid - better known as FAFSA - updates). I have several email accounts on my phone - I won't even say how many because you'd gasp:), but I do it because I know I won't have time to login to all of them on an actual computer and hey, your phone is a mini-computer in your hands. Having the accounts on my phone allows me instant access and the ability to apply on the fly.
Be sure your daughter checks her spam folder! The first few emails from a new account can easily get caught there and the same applies, they'll be missed. Colleges and scholarship grantors won't be concerned with any technical difficulties or oversights in time management. Your daughter must stay on top of her email account and encourage her to get into the habit of checking her email daily, especially during the college prep process.
How are Merit Scholarships determined?
Different factors, but consider this, the earlier you apply, the earlier your daughter will get on the list for money distribution if she is eligible. Consider applying Early Action – which is non-binding – and still have the flexibility to go where the money is. Early Action submission deadlines vary so check with the schools your daughter plans to apply to. Acceptance (or denial) letters typically come back in early January, definitely by February if early action is chosen and your daughter will have until May 1st to decide which school she will attend.
What is considered Income when it comes to the FAFSA?
Unemployment, pension, untaxed income, child support, contributions made to retirement plans in the income year, untaxed social security benefits – all are income, so be sure to include it when completing the FAFSA. Don't try to get over on the federal government by "hiding" funds. Any monies attached to your social security number can be found and, will jeopardize your daughter's ability to get grants or loans completing the FAFSA entitles her to.
Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
Use the calculator on the FAFSA website to determine what your EFC will be. It’s not a 100% science, but, it can help you get an idea of how much your family could be responsible for paying toward your daughter's education. Armed with this knowledge, and please share it with your daughter, this will help determine where it is feasibly financial for her to go to college.
Don't let the EFC number scare you! There are other options to help offset that number, there are TONS of scholarship available, all she has to do is research & apply - a service BGOC provides. Check out this story for living proof!
Johnny Smith vs. Jonathan R. Smith
Use the name on your tax returns when completing the FAFSA. If you go by Johnny Smith in your everyday life with friends, family and even co-workers, but your real name on your W2 and taxes is Jonathan R. Smith, go by the Jonathan R. Smith on the FAFSA. You don’t want any mixups or confusion for believe it or not, there are more people out there with your name or a very close version of it than you think and while I’m all for tech, mix ups happen.
Attend College Fairs
Information can be limited, but, it’s a great way to learn about schools that are out there (there are literally thousands), majors & programs offered, graduation rates, campus life, the list goes on. Your daughter should definitely ask for business cards as the folks manning the tables are in many instances admissions counselors who can be a great resource at that school in the long run.