LWMMarchApril2015small_Page_19If you walk the halls of any high school right now you will hear the familiar buzz in shouts and whispers… Dude, “I got accepted.” “Dude I got deferred.” “Dude, they REJECTED me.” “Dude…they o ered me $10K in scholarships.” You observe students walking alone and silent down the halls. They haven’t heard any news yet and don’t want to admit it to their friends. The stress level is incredibly high this time of year for high school seniors
waiting for those college acceptance letters. Yes, those college noti cations are coming in, acceptance, wait list deferrals and the dreaded, “Thank you for your interest, we are sorry to inform you…” rejection letters. If your student receives a rejection or deferral please tell them don’t take it personally.

With the Common App and the increased numbers of students applying to college these days, your student’s application is one in tens of thousands with similar grades and scores. The competition is  erce. But, let’s say your student got accepted to one of the 10 schools they applied to. Everyone in the house is giddy with excitement and relief. Johnny is going to college!!

You filed the FAFSA. Your EFC number looks awfully big and expensive. It can’t be just for 1 year, right?? BUT, since your 4.0, 2050 SAT/29 ACT score son was ACCEPTED surely there will be scholarships and grants o ered! You call the college and are told the Financial Aid AWARD letters will be coming in a few weeks.

You feel SO much better since an AWARD letter sounds very promising, right?

Fast forward several weeks to the arrival of the Award letter. You see the dollar  gures broken up in columns and at  first glance things look pretty good. You take a closer look and suddenly realize the Stafford and PLUS offerings are loans, the EFC is what you are expected to pay out of pocket for just the 1st year, you don’t see any grants offered and only a small $2000 scholarship that won’t be renewed after the 1st year. The excitement you
had when the acceptance letters came in is now tempered with concern about how to send Maddy or Scott to college after all. The stress has now moved from the halls of the high school directly to your family kitchen table.

You thought you saved enough but now you aren’t sure. You consider borrowing from retirement accounts or taking on education loans. This starts a cycle of debt for both parents and students that could be a problem for decades. Plus, this is only child #1 and you have two younger children to pay for, too.

Since the cost of attending even the a state university can be close to $100K, especially if the graduating statistics are six years instead of four, you must start both college funding and planning much earlier than ever. Finding out what it takes for your student to stand out from the rest of the applicants, selecting the right schools for your student,  nding the savings options that will help (not hinder) the Financial Aid process… all of this and more takes planning and time. College has turned into big business and will be one of the most expensive purchases for your family.

If you spend a little more time planning for college in the early years than you do on annual family vacations you will  nd you can avert many of the problems some of today’s families are experiencing and still afford to take those family vacations while the kids are in college instead of taking on a second job to help pay for it all.


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