Financial Aid and the FAFSA

It’s that time of the year … its’ the Financial Aid Season! As the 2019 year is approaching Wolf College Consulting wanted to give you information to prepare you for the next step in the Application Process – Applying for Financial Aid. Below you will find some important information:

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) – http://www.fafsa.ed.gov

  • Every student that desires to receive financial aid from the federal government, state government or institution, must fill out the FAFSA (Note some institutions require additional financial aid forms, like the CSS Profile. Make sure you contact the financial aid offices of your institutions to find out what forms are needed)
  • You cannot start filling out the FAFSA for the 2019-2020 year until October 1, 2018
  • It is recommended that you fill out the FAFSA by October 31, 2018 (as some institutions give priority to students that fill out the FAFSA by that date)
  • To prepare for the FAFSA, you can use this 2019-2020 FAFSA worksheet
  • The FAFSA will be based on 2017 income, but current assets.  Forms you will need to fill out the FAFSA – 2017 W2 Forms, Bank Statements, Tax Forms (including IRS Form 1040, and additional tax forms may be needed). Note if you have not completed your 2017 taxes, you can estimate them by using last year’s forms. Later you can update your FAFSA when you receive your official documents.

CAL GRANT –

  • Some of you may be eligible for the Cal Grant. Only 2 documents are needed for it – GPA Verification form (filled out by the high school guidance office) and the FAFSA. Note – Parents make sure your child has requested the guidance office at their high school to fill out a GPA Verification Form
  • YOU MUST FILL OUT THE FAFSA BY MARCH 2, 2019 TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE CAL GRANT

The Financial Aid process and be stressful and confusing. Wolf College Consulting would enjoy the opportunity to help make it less stressful. Let us know how we can help you!

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More Tips to Prepare for the FAFSA

It’s that time of the year … The Holidays are here and it’s time to start thinking about financial aid! As the 2016 year is approaching Wolf College Consulting wanted to give you information to prepare you for the next step in the Application Process – Applying for Financial Aid. Below you will find some important information:

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) – http://www.fafsa.ed.gov

  • Every student that desires to receive financial aid from the federal government, state government or institution, must fill out the FAFSA (Note some institutions require additional financial aid forms, like the CSS Profile. Make sure you contact the financial aid offices of your institutions to find out what forms are needed)
  • You cannot start filling out the FAFSA for the 2016-2017 year until January 1, 2016
  • It is recommended that you fill out the FAFSA by February 1, 2016 (as some institutions give priority to students that fill out the FAFSA by that date)
  • To prepare for the FAFSA, you can use this 2015-2016 FAFSA worksheet (typically FAFSA updates this form by early December). Most likely the questions will not change for 2016-2017. It will still help you prepare for the FAFSA.
  • Forms you will need to fill out the FAFSA – W2 Forms, Bank Statements, Tax Forms (including IRS Form 1040, and additional tax forms may be needed). Note if you do not yet have your updated W2 forms or tax returns you can estimate them by using last year’s forms. Later you can update your FAFSA when you receive your official documents.

CAL GRANT –

  • Some of you may be eligible for the Cal Grant. Only 2 documents are needed for it – GPA Verification form (filled out by the high school guidance office) and the FAFSA. Note – Parents make sure your child has requested the guidance office at their high school to fill out a GPA Verification Form
  • YOU MUST FILL OUT THE FAFSA BY MARCH 2, 2016 TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE CAL GRANT

The Financial Aid process and be stressful and confusing. Wolf College Consulting would enjoy the opportunity to help make it less stressful. Let us know how we can help you!

More Tips to Prepare for the FAFSA…

It’s that time of the year … The Holidays are here and it’s time to start thinking about financial aid!  As the 2015 year is approaching Wolf College Consulting wanted to give you information to prepare you for the next step in the Application Process – Applying for Financial Aid.  Below you will find some important information:

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)  – http://www.fafsa.ed.gov

  • Every student that desires to receive financial aid from the federal government, state government or institution, must fill out the FAFSA (Note some institutions require additional financial aid forms, like the CSS Profile.  Make sure you contact the financial aid offices of your institutions to find out what forms are needed)
  • You cannot start filling out the FAFSA for the 2015-2016 year until January 1, 2015
  • It is recommended that you fill out the FAFSA by February 1, 2015 (as some institutions give priority to students that fill out the FAFSA by that date)
  • To prepare for the FAFSA, you can use this 2014-2015 FAFSA worksheet (typically FAFSA updates this form by early December).  Most likely the questions will not change for 2015-2016.  It will still help you prepare for the FAFSA.
  • Forms you will need to fill out the FAFSA – W2 Forms, Bank Statements, Tax Forms (including IRS Form 1040, and additional tax forms may be needed).  Note if you do not yet have your updated W2 forms or tax returns you can estimate them by using last year’s forms.  Later you can update your FAFSA when you receive your official documents.

CAL GRANT

  • Some of you may be eligible for the Cal Grant.  Only 2 documents are needed for it – GPA Verification form (filled out by the high school guidance office) and the FAFSA.  Note – Parents make sure your child has requested the guidance office at their high school to fill out a GPA Verification Form
  • YOU MUST FILL OUT THE FAFSA BY MARCH 2, 2015 TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE CAL GRANT

The Financial Aid process and be stressful and confusing.  Wolf College Consulting would enjoy the opportunity to help make it less stressful.  Let us know how we can help you!

The Importance of The College Visit

It’s finally summer, which means campus visit time for a lot of you. The campus visit is a huge piece to the college admission process and can be very influential for a number of reasons. A campus visit is about so much more than seeing the physical grounds of a school. It’s an opportunity to learn about the mission of the college, better understand what they value and how they educate their students. You’ll learn a lot about a school by taking a tour and participating in an info session. And ultimately, campus visits will help you solidify your college list (and eventually pick the school you want to attend). Don’t delay your visits. Take advantage of the summer and do your best to get on to the campuses you plan to pursue. Here are some of my top reasons for visiting schools now, rather than later:

To Help You Narrow Your Options – For those of you uncertain about what you want in a college, a campus visit is a perfect way to begin prioritizing what you do and do not want in a university. Each college has its own personality. As you get to know colleges and experience their campuses, you’ll begin to identify the things that you like and dislike. A college visit is a great way to begin the process of prioritizing your preferences. Ask yourself, “could I live here for four years?” Picture yourself on campus, interacting with the students you meet and sitting in the classrooms you observe. Take notes on your visits, and pretty soon you’ll begin to see a pattern of your preferences. The best way to figure out what you want in a campus is to visit!

To Demonstrate Your Interest – “Demonstrated Interest” is a term used by colleges to describe actions by a student that gauge how much he/she wants to attend their college. Every contact action by a student is tracked by the college to summarize the student expressing to the college “how much I love you” (Source: IECA) Colleges want to know that you are serious about their school and genuinely interested in what they have to offer. There are many ways to express your interest in a college, but few are better than a campus visit. Many colleges consider demonstrated interest in the selection process, but almost all colleges want to be sure you understand the personality of their campus before you apply. A campus visit gives you the opportunity to say to a college, “Hey! I’m interested in you and made it a priority to see your campus before I applied! I like what I saw and know exactly what I’m applying for!”

To Help You Find Your “Fit” – A college visit should be an evaluation. It’s a time to determine whether or not the college offers what you are looking for in a university. If you still aren’t sure what you want in a college, start with a simple list of things you would have in a “perfect college.” Use these to create a list of things that are most important to you in a college experience. As you see campuses, compare them to one another and to your list of priorities. Finding your priorities is a process and takes time; just one more reason to visit before you apply. And remember, applying to a college is about so much more than “can I get in?” It’s about finding a fit – a place where you feel comfortable and know you belong.

To Help You Write Your College Essays – I can’t tell you how much easier it will be to write your college essays if you have visited the campuses to which you will apply. If you can speak, from experience, to the most appealing aspects of each college, (and I mean beyond the beautiful campus, the small class sizes, caring faculty, and abundance of activities on campus), you’ll have a winning “Why Do You Want To Attend Our College” essay. Consider using your college visits to pick out distinctive things you appreciate about each campus, and then use those in your admission essays. A genuine application and essay is always better than a forced one.

For more information on successful college visits, developing a college list, or choosing a school that’s right for you, contact Amberley at awolf@wolfcollegeconsulting.com.

It’s time to start thinking about college financial aid…

Financial Aid 101It’s that time of the year … The Holidays are here and it’s time to start thinking about financial aid!  As the 2013 year is approaching Wolf College Consulting wanted to give you information to prepare you for the next step in the Application Process – Applying for Financial Aid.  Below you will find some important information:

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)  – http://www.fafsa.ed.gov

  • Every student that desires to receive financial aid from the federal government, state government or institution, must fill out the FAFSA (Note some institutions require additional financial aid forms, like the CSS Profile.  Make sure you contact the financial aid offices of your institutions to find out what forms are needed)
  • You cannot start filling out the FAFSA for the 2014-2015 year until January 1, 2014
  • It is recommended that you fill out the FAFSA by February 1, 2014 (as some institutions give priority to students that fill out the FAFSA by that date)
  • To prepare for the FAFSA, you can use this 2013-2014 FAFSA worksheet (typically FAFSA updates this form by early December).  Most likely the questions will not change for 2014-2015.  It will still help you prepare for the FAFSA.
  • Forms you will need to fill out the FAFSA – W2 Forms, Bank Statements, Tax Forms (including IRS Form 1040, and additional tax forms may be needed).  Note if you do not yet have your updated W2 forms or tax returns you can estimate them by using last year’s forms.  Later you can update your FAFSA when you receive your official documents.

CAL GRANT

  • Some of you may be eligible for the Cal Grant.  Only 2 documents are needed for it – GPA Verification form (filled out by the high school guidance office) and the FAFSA.  Note – Parents make sure your child has requested the guidance office at their high school to fill out a GPA Verification Form
  • YOU MUST FILL OUT THE FAFSA BY MARCH 2, 2014 TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE CAL GRANT

The Financial Aid process and be stressful and confusing.  Wolf College Consulting would enjoy the opportunity to help make it less stressful.  Let us know how we can help you!

FAFSA and Assets

Wolf College Consulting Financial Aid 101Wolf College Consulting recommends that you fill out your FAFSA by February 1 to make sure you receive priority in aid.  Here are some additional tips Wolf College Consulting wants you to know about:

After completing the FAFSA, you will be given an EFC (Expected Family Contribution).  This number represents the amount of money the government believes you can afford to put toward college education costs.  The government calculates this number by examining your family’s income, assets and other household information. 

The Federal Methodology that is used to calculate your EFC counts some parental assets and excludes others.  The more accessible your family assets are, the  higher your EFC.  The following assets are excluded from the federal methodology:

  • Retirement accounts (e.g., 401(k)s, all IRAs)
  • Annuities
  • Cash value life insurance
  • Home equity in primary residence
  • Personal items (e.g., cars, furniture)
  • A family farm

Accessible assets are all other assets of the parent and student.  These include your checking and savings accounts, money market accounts, certificates of deposit, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, US Savings bonds, certain 529 plans, trusts, limited partnerships, vacation homes, investment properties and business assets.

The federal methodology does have an asset protection allowance that lets you protect a certain amount of money from the final tally.  This asset protection allowance is based on the age of the oldest parent – the older the parent, the greater the allowance.

Note: There are certain campuses that use the federal methodology and also their own institutional methodology.  These campuses (many of which are Private institutions) may require additional financial aid forms (like the CSS Profile).  Those colleges may look at some or all of the assets that the federal methodology excludes (like home equity, retirement accounts, etc).

Understanding the FAFSA and financial aid can be confusing… let us know if we can help make the process less confusing!

 

May 1st National Enrollment Deposit Day

Wolf College ConsultingThe May 1st National Enrollment Deposit Day is quickly approaching. 

I want to take this time to remind high school seniors and parents of some important items:

Enrollment Deposits:

  • You must send an enrollment deposit to one college by May 1st to hold your spot for the Fall Semester.
  • If you are on the waiting list of your top choice college, you must send a non-refundable deposit to your second choice.  If you come off the waiting list of your top choice college you can then deposit to that college (but you will not be refunded your original deposit from your second choice college).
  • If colleges require an additional housing deposit, make sure to also send in the housing deposit (look at deadlines –most are by May 1)

Financial Aid

  • By now, you should have heard from most (if not all) of your colleges about financial aid. Let me know if you would like to set up a meeting to go over your financial aid packages.  It can sometimes be hard to read and confusing.  I’m happy to help.
  • Make sure you complete all financial aid documents (online or hardcopy).  Make sure to read deadlines and dates!

GRADES

  • GRADES STILL MATTER!  Do not let “senioritis” get to you!  Colleges do take away acceptances from students every year.  You need to keep up your grades.  This summer you can relax, go to the beach, and hang out with friends.

Campus Visits

  • If you still don’t know which college you want to attend, it’s not too late to visit your top choice colleges, meet with your academic departments and talk to financial aid counselors.  April is a busy month for college admissions offices, so you need to set up your appointments now!

Juniors… It’s time to start college planning…

Wolf College ConsultingWhile most seniors are happily done (or almost happily done) with completing and submitting their college applications, now it’s time for juniors to get engaged.

Below is a checklist of some of the things that juniors and their families should be thinking about, discussing and doing over the next few months.

Start talking!  Now is the time to start conversations about the next steps after high school.  It is important to start “getting on the same page” regarding realistic expectations and hopes.

This is the right time for parents to honestly discuss financial capabilities and how much they can contribute towards their college education.  It is important for the student to know how much you can contribute so that they can look at college with realistic eyes.

Remember that financial aid can bring the cost of a college down, so don’t only look at the Sticker Price, but consider financial aid options as well.  Parents can get an estimate of what federal aid they might be eligible for at the College Boards EFC Calculator. You can also look at college websites to find out about institutional aid as well.

Learn More About Yourself!  This is a really important semester to invest energy in learning more about your academic and social needs.  This will be important to help make the transition into college a successful transition.  Do you know what you want to study?  Do you know what kind of learning environment will be best for you?  Do you know what type of location you want to experience college in?  Do you know what extracurricular activities you want at your college?  Do you know what type of services you will need to succeed academically?

This is a process that may be difficult for many students.  I am here to help you.  Through assessments and meetings, I can help juniors discover their gifts, talents, college needs and academic goals.

Work hard in your classes!  Your junior year is the most important year in your application process.  This will be your last semester of grades that will be sent with your applications.  Study hard (especially in your academic courses), get extra assistance for the classes you are struggling with, participate in class, and challenge yourself.  Also remember – your junior class teachers will be the ones that will fill out your academic references – so get to know your teachers, work hard and be respectful.

Also make sure to select your senior courses thoughtfully.  Continue to challenge yourself and take as many Honors, AP and/or IB classes (balance is important – only take as many as you can be successful in).   If you received any poor grades, summer will be an important time to retake classes.

Testing!  Do you have a testing schedule?  Do you know if you are stronger in your ACT or SAT test?  Now is the time to be taking your ACT and/or SAT tests so that you do not need to take them during your senior fall semester.  Also, do you plan to take any SATII tests?  It is important to make your plans now so that this Summer and Fall you can give more energy and time in your applications (not tests).

College Visits!  The Spring Semester is the perfect time to visit colleges.  Take advantage of Ski Weeks and Spring Breaks.  I recommend visiting a few different types of colleges.  If you can’t get out of the area, there are a lot of colleges in Southern California — go visit a UC School, a State School and a Private school.  Visiting colleges will help you build a strong application list.

Summer Plans.  What are you planning to do this summer?  Are you going to take summer courses?  Have you thought of participating in a summer program?  Colleges are looking for you to show intellectual vitality and curiosity.  Your summer plans can strengthen your admissions profile if you plan wisely.

Wolf College Consulting is here to help you… let us know how Wolf College Consulting can be part of your college planning process.

Thank You Card Time!

Wolf College Consulting - Thank you CardSeniors — some of you might be done with your applications, but don’t forget to write thank you cards to those that filled out your letters of recommendation forms. Wolf College Consulting recommends that you do the following when you write your thank you cards:

  • The obvious — Thank your teachers, counselors, or pastors for taking the time to write the letters of recommendations to your colleges.
  • Another Thank You — Thank them for the ways they have encouraged you, helped you and challenged you. Be specific.
  • Keep them posted — Tell them that you will keep them posted as you hear from your colleges. It will really excite them if they hear you were accepted to a school that they wrote a letter to.
  • The future — Tell them that you are excited about making the transition to college and tell them they played a key role in preparing you for college success.
  • Optional — Add a gift card or a small gift to thank them (this can also be for Christmas too). They will really appreciate it! Remember this is optional and not a necessity.

Wolf College Consulting hopes that you are enjoying the Holiday Season!

Confusing Application Terminology

Wolf College Consulting, applicationsAs application season has officially begun, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the application deadline terminology. Below you will find information about deadlines and Wolf College Consulting tips.

Early Action – this deadline allows students to apply early (typically in November) and also receive an early admissions decision – acceptance or denial (typically in December or January). This deadline is non-binding which means if accepted you are not required to attend. You may apply to multiple early action colleges. I typically encourage all of my students to mostly apply Early Action for two reasons: typically colleges accept at a higher yield for Early Action applications and some colleges only give academic scholarships to students that apply Early Action.

Early Decision – this deadline allows students to apply Early Decision to ONE college (typically in October or November). Students who apply Early Decision are bound to attend that college if accepted (also known as a “binding” decision).  You may apply to other colleges, but only ONE Early Decision. If you are accepted to an Early Decision college, you are required to withdraw all other applications. I only recommend applying Early Decision to a college if you are sure it is your #1 Choice and you are prepared financially for that college.

Early Action Single Choice – to make it confusing there is another “Early” deadline. This deadline allows your to apply early to ONE Early Action Single Choice college, but it is non-binding. You may apply to other Early Action colleges and you are not required to withdraw your applications if you are accepted to the Early Action Single Choice college.  If a college offers this type of deadline and it is one of your top colleges, this can be a great option.

Regular Decision – this deadline is typically in January and most notifications are sent by April. If a college also has an Early Action deadline, I first recommend applying Early Action, but some colleges only have Regular Decision deadlines. This in a non-binding application.

Rolling Admission- some colleges do not have a specific deadline and instead have a rolling admission policy. You can apply at any time (typically until May 1 or when they run out of space). When you apply you typically hear back from the school within 2-4 weeks. For Rolling Admission schools, I still recommend applying as early as possible for scholarships and to give you time to make decisions, register for classes, etc.

Please contact Wolf College Consulting if you need help understanding the application process.  We are here to help!