There are two government loans for college -- the Direct Stafford Loan for students and the Plus Loan for parents -- both interest rates are going up for the 2018-2019 school year. The student loan rate will increase on July 1st to 5.1% for the 2018-2019 academic year. This is up from 4.45% last year. The student is limited to borrowing $5,500 freshaman year and will have to pay a 1% origination fee to borrow the money. This increase means your child would pay $300 more in interest over a ten year period. The loan repayment starts six months after graduation or upon leaving school. The government loans are fixed rate loans; however each year you will have to get a new loan and each year the government releases a new interest rate.
Parents can borrow up to the cost of education for that school year, the interest rate will be 7.7% up from 7% and the origination fee will be 4.4% and payments start immediately. Credible.com has a handy loan cruncher that will provide you with a clear breakdown on how much you will pay back for the principle and interest.
Tidbit: All the interest paid on the student and parent loans help to offset the cost of the Affordable Healthcare Act.
College Planning Services helps families minimize their need to borrow by helping them qualify for free scholarship money from the college of their choice. Please click here to request a free telephone consultation with John DeLorey.
Very few families are excited when they receive their financial aid packages and far too many are confused with the jargon and how to interpret what the aid package says. The first thing that comes to a parent’s mind is “this can’t be right, the college can’t expect me to pay this much.”
The financial aid package is a direct result of completing the complicated financial aid forms and the colleges applying their financial aid policies to your “college tax.” It is not unusual to see Boston University giving a family $10,000 more in free scholarship money than say Northeastern. The reason is that Boston University’s financial aid policies are more generous to those families who exhibit financial need than Northeastern’s.
What happens if this family wants to appeal their package from Northeastern? Most parents’ first inclination is to call Northeastern touting the Boston University package and asking for more money. This is not a good idea for a number of reasons; the primary one being the parent is treating the financial aid counselor at Northeastern as they would a used car salesman. The chances of that appeal strategy netting them more money is minimal.
If a parent wants a fighting chance to get more money from a college on an appeal, they need to do three things. The first is to resell their child, not to Admissions, but to the Financial Aid office, so they will know that if they do “budge,” the student will attend their school. The second thing is to do the math to determine the amount of unmet need. As in the example of the family at Northeastern it is $10,000. The third thing is to determine what the colleges don’t know about their particular family situation. The only thing a college knows about a family is what they put on their financial aid form, verified by their taxes. There could be a number of extenuating circumstances that the college would not be privy to, such as a loss of income, care for an elderly parent, etc.
Don't let stress invade your college decision-making process. This is the time of year when students are thinking, stressing and ultimately making their college choice. Most colleges have May 1 as their deadline for making a decision.
When it comes time to choose the college, cost, location and programs tend to be areas of major focus. Committing to a college requires reanalyzing your priorities. This will assist in determining which college will be the right choice personally and financially.
Finances should be a major part of the decision making process.
Some parents decide to appeal their package, especially if there are wide discrepancies between schools. Michael Stridel, the director of undergraduate admission at Carnegie Mellon University, stated that “his school sets aside slightly under $1 million a year of freshman aid allocation” to be used for renegotiation. Parents need to tell the schools something that they do not know in order to be successful in the renegotiation process, such as a change as a change in job or family medical condition. Also, it is risky to send a copy of another school’s financial aid package for comparison, as that could backfire.
Another important last step is to revisit the student’s college of choice, its campus and its student life. Feel free to talk with a professor in the desired field of study, have lunch with the students and arrange for an overnight stay if it is an option.
Lastly, don’t let the college decision cause short-term satisfaction with long-term repercussions. The repayment for college is typically spread over 15 years after graduation. The federal government limits the amount an undergraduate can borrow to $27,000 over four years. The amount borrowed should not exceed the expected first year salary of the student.
The importance of a well-thought-out financial plan is vital and should be included as part of the overall plan and decision. When making this life decision, do so intelligently and informed. Remember to consider the plan, the goals and the future results.
The dilemma faced by many parents this time of year is where will their child be going to college next September. What the majority don’t realize, the problem is not getting a child into college, it is getting them out in four years.
Many parents find themselves in a love and/or guilt position for a variety of reasons such as they (parents) did not go to college, or they went to an Ivy League school, or they told their child to do well and then they compounded the problem with no clear decision making strategy in advance. This results in a struggle of wills – the child against the parents, the mother and the child ganging up on the father, etc. In the United States only 50% of college freshmen will graduate from college. One of the reasons is how families make their decision sitting at the kitchen table.
Let’s discuss a well-thought-out plan. When a child gets accepted to a number of colleges it is wise to take a “victory lap” to the top 3 schools. I recommend that families have a written rating scale to be able to assess one school versus another. This follows the adage of if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.
If possible, the student should schedule a mid-week overnight visit that would allow them to attend several school classes and events. If that is not possible, then extended time should be spent on campus talking to students and faculty members, as well as exploring student clubs and organizations. The cafeteria should merit lots of consideration. Flexibility in the food plan is critical to good nutrition. Many college freshmen put on 15 to 20 lbs because of the glut of junk food, lack of exercise and stress.
It goes without saying that college retention rates (the number of students that return for their sophomore year), graduation rates (4.5 or 6 years), and job placement numbers are all very important. Lastly, cost should be critical in your decision making. It is prudent not to look at how the tuition bill will be paid for just the next year, rather the cost should be viewed as a monthly bill over 15 years.
College is a big step in the life of a young adult. For many, it comes with excitement and concern. College can be intimidating for those who experience anxiety and or have a learning disability. Campus counseling centers have reported an increase in students with severe psychological problems. A report conducted by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, stated that anxiety was the number one complaint among students.
Depression had been the most reported previous complaint. Victor Barr, survey coordinator and Director of the counseling center at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville reported that he is unsure why the change yet it has been a change that was “inching up for several years.” More than 400 college counseling directors who responded in a 2010 survey noted that there has been an increase from the previous academic year in the number of clients with severe psychological problems at their institutions.
Some experts in the field state that students feel overwhelming pressure to be successful in college and that they must make the most of the investment. This could lead to the high level of anxiety felt by students.
Seventy seven percent of directors reported an increase in students with severe problems. In order to deal with these issues some schools have hired case managers to monitor more complex issues. Approximately seventy five percent of directors stated that they need more psychiatric services to assist those with complex mental health issues. Today, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports that less than 40 percent of students who experience anxiety or depression seek mental health services.
More than four in 10 freshmen say they feel overwhelmed by all they have to do, compared with fewer than two in 10 freshmen in 1985. --The American Freshman: National Norms, Fall 2016
For educators, the need to be approachable is key. “When someone shows concern, or simply listens, that can make all the difference” students say.
Students who have learning disabilities will find that most colleges provide some level of services as mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act. There are colleges that offer specific comprehensive programs like Curry College, Westfield State College and Marist College. These schools are well known for their programs. Students should learn about campus resources by meeting with their academic advisor who can provide more guidance and a thoughtful plan.
Lastly, college can be an intimidating new world to any student.
If a student experiences mental health issues or a learning disability, there are many services, strategies and campus personnel available to help. With the right plan in place, students will surpass their toughest challenges and work to be successful. Students must be advocates for themselves to reach their goals.
Many high school seniors will be taking full advantage of applying early to college this fall. Some simply because they don’t have the patience to wait until next May to know where they will be going, and some think they may have a better chance of acceptance if applying early. Early decision and early action allow students to make their applications by November 1st and receive an admission decision typically in by December 15th, just in time for the holidays.
It is estimated that 50% of students will apply early in the fall of 2018 and 80% of this group won’t decide to make their applications until mid-September. Some high schools predict that 70% of their seniors will apply early. It is important to note that financial aid forms must be completed by November 15th, full 2-½ months earlier than the regular decision cycle.
Early decision acceptance plans are binding and students should only apply to one school via early decision (though many apply to more). If a student is accepted and the school offers an adequate financial package, the student is expected to attend. Early action acceptances are not binding; the student can apply to several schools via early action. The student can accept the offer immediately or wait until May 1 to decide. In many cases colleges accept a high percentage of students applying early, it could be as high as 40% at some elite schools, where the same schools may only accept 20% of the regular applications.
There is a new process being offered by some of the highly selective colleges. Single-choice early action is new and it is not binding. The student can only apply to one school thru this process. Students who apply single-choice early action can make applications to other colleges under regular admission and have until the regular decision deadline to decide. Yale, Harvard and Princeton have implemented the single-choice early action plan. The colleges get back to students with a “likely to admit” or a “not likely to admit” response four weeks after receiving the application.
You can’t help but recognize a common theme throughout this piece—the need to speed up the process. This adversely affects the guidance counselor because they can’t meet with students during this critical period since they are too busy processing the paperwork for one student who wants to apply to one school early decision as well as for early action. Parents are affected because they have to modify their summer plans to visit schools and more importantly they will need to get their financial house in order.
This generation of students needs immediate results and answers, when entering into the process of applying early to college, make certain that the student is prepared, organized and able to meet deadlines in order to be successful in their application process.
All parents need to do is be prepared to pay for it.
I meet with the parents of future college students all the time and most of them share similar anxieties. As one of my clients confessed, “I feared I had saved too little, too late, and college was unaffordable.”
It’s a common concern. And it’s an understandable one, too. Afterall, being able to
afford a child’s education may mean the difference between sending your child off to college or not. But there are lots of mistakes that parents can avoid that will help increase their ability to pay for college. For example, did you know that 90 percent of the forms submitted to apply for financial aid have errors or inconsistencies? Did you realize that many parents don’t understand which colleges provide the best financial aid packages? And sadly, many parents put themselves at a disadvantage because they don’t recognize the difference between includable and non-includable assets when submitting their FAFSA or CSS Profile.
When you need medical attention, you visit a doctor. When you need legal advice, you hire an attorney. So when you need help navigating the mystifying world of college financing and application process, find a professional with the expertise to help.
That same client later said to me, “As safeguards, every family should have a doctor, dentist, lawyer and someone like you.”
“Helicopter parents have gone Velcro,” says Margery Eagan in her Boston Herald column. “Now they’re attaching themselves to their college freshmen’s dorm rooms.”
Ms. Eagan’s article notes that at colleges across the country, super-involved parents are having a hard time saying goodbye to their children, and some even linger around campus for days. As a result, many institutions are implementing activities that facilitate the separation.
According to a New York Times report, Morehouse College in Atlanta performs a formal “Parting Ceremony,” with speeches in the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel, followed by a march of incoming freshmen through the gates of the campus, which swung shut, leaving the parents outside.
At another college, everyone gathers in the gymnasium, students on one side of the bleachers, parents on the other. The president welcoming the new class has his back to the parents — a symbolic gesture meant to inspire “an aha! moment,” said the college's vice president of student affairs, “an epiphany where parents realize, ‘My student is feeling more comfortable sitting with 400 people they just met.’ ”
Parental separation anxiety is a reflection of modern child rearing. A good deal of it has to do with the evolution of over-involvement in our students’ lives. These are the baby-on-board parents, highly invested in their students’ success. They do a lot of living vicariously, and this is one manifestation of that.
Officials encourage parents to detach — not just on move in day, but throughout the first year, including limiting phone calls and text messages. As one parent (who is a kindergarten teacher) put it, “Say goodbye and just leave, because the kids calm down.”
If you are the parent of a college-bound freshman, it is important to spend some time thinking about and planning for unexpected costs or for an emergency that might arise. This consideration will take some research and financial planning.
Before the summer begins to close, the parent should speak with his student about their financial responsibilities. A detailed plan that specifies expected costs should be developed. Some of the expected costs are: living expenses, travel, and entertainment.
The next step is to outline who will pay for what. It would be beneficial to set up a separate account for this spending.
The issue of insurance coverage should be looked at i.e.: health, car, renters and technology insurance that covers cell phones and computers. If the student remains on the parents insurance policies, the parent should decide who is responsible for payment. Parents should pay close attention to detail if the child seeks his own plan.
Parents can keep children on their health insurance plan until age 26. Some colleges do offer health insurance plans. If a parent decides to enroll in a college sponsored plan, make certain to compare the parent plan to the college plan.
Some colleges allow students to bring cars to campus while others do not. If a student is bringing a car to campus, the student will need car insurance. Rates can increase if a child is in an accident or if he receives a speeding ticket. Parents should research rates as some companies offer “good student discounts” which grant lower rates.
Credit card companies are notorious for coming to campus and marketing to students. If a parent decides to cosign for the student, he maybe left financially responsible if the student does not make appropriate payments on the card. If a parent does cosign for a credit card, he should establish clear financial responsibilities and expectations.
If the student chooses an off campus housing option and the parents cosign the agreement, the parents could be taking on a financial obligation should there be an issue with payment or damage done. Parents should be knowledgably about their financial responsibilities if this situation arises.
Parents should do their due diligence with regards to what they are continuing to be responsible for while their child is at college. Even though the child is away, there is a great deal of financial responsibility to establish and track. This is a real world learning experience for the new college student and he should earn a degree of independence if financially successful at the end of June.
It’s summer, the time of weekend getaways, suntans and college tours. Yes, that’s right, summer is a great time to take a road trip and combine a college visit with the joy of a family vacation. It makes so much sense. After all, why not visit a college campus when the crowds have thinned out and you might be able to wander down the ivory tower halls at your leisure?
You still have weeks left of summer to pull together a family trip that includes a visit to a university campus along with some local sightseeing. For example, if your son or daughter is interested in visiting Georgetown University you can also check out the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial or the museums and zoo of the Smithsonian Institution.
Or, if your soon-to-be-college-student is considering Fordham or NYU, plan to explore the sights of the Big Apple (Times Square, Ellis Island and NBC Studios) while you’re there. This gives your trip greater significance, creates lasting memories and knits you and your child together in a whole new way.
The key with any trip is planning. Most colleges and universities offer group tours in the summer months, even though school is not in session. This is also a good time to arrange an interview with a college admissions officer. So visit your favorite college website and start making your arrangements today.