A Dirty Dozen College Financial Aid, Scholarships And Admissions Mistakes

College advisor to host series of college planning workshops January 27th through April 2018

Pearl and I have tallied more than 79 deadly mistakes parents (and kids) make in the college admissions, financial aid, scholarships and test prep process, but in this post  I’ll cover a mere three of the biggies.

Mistake 1 is an error of omission – assuming that you can’t qualify for ANY type of financial aid or scholarships.  I say “mistake of omission” because this gaffe involves something that you DON’T do – learn about all readily available sources of funding.

The average college tuition discount, nationally, is 49.1% – including need-based and merit based offers.  Ergo, paying full price is a choice, not a “have to!”  (Note:  that will be my last use of “ergo” this year.)

You’d be surprised at who gets aid, specifically, what KIND of families and how much they make on paper.

Spoiler alert:  it’s not only low-income families, aid goes mostly to six-figure earners, fair or not!

Then there’s money that comes from the good ol’ tax code, especially for business owners by way of deductions and other strategies to pay with pre-tax dollars.

Bottom line:  I have never met a family, in 17 years in the college planning biz, who can’t get at least 25-33% off “sticker price.”

Mistake 2 is all about the college list and the irrational reasons kids -and parents – choose colleges.

He wants “Rah rah?”

The campus “felt right?”

“I just knew when I got out of the car?”

(Counterpart:  “He wouldn’t even get out of the car when we got there, he’s not applying there.”)

High rank/prestige.

(Counterpart:  “She worked too hard in high school to go to THAT school, it’s too easy to get into.”)

Yeah, ok.

How about factors like career center support, recruiting on campus, alumni network or graduate school placement percentages?

Why are these considerations afterthoughts?

(Awkward silence.)

Mistake 3:  “Winging it.”  I hear it from parents all the time, “I can’t believe she’s a junior, I remember when she was in pre-school!  We have no idea where to start!”

Look, even if you’re not mentally or emotionally ready to deal, the college thang is a-happenin.’  Like a train that arrives and departs at set times, without caring whether you’re ready.

You’re either on board – or left behind on the platform.

The sooner you deal, the better.  Even if your high school guidance department doesn’t have the College Meeting until your kid is a junior, get your butt in there a year or two sooner.

Admissions officers will judge your child’s body of work from 9th grade on, so the sooner you plan, the greater your odds of college success.

There, that’s three of the biggie college mistakes.

I’m running a series of live workshops starting this Saturday morning (Huntington) where I plan to cover a Dirty Dozen mistakes to avoid, and answer as many audience questions as time permits.  Here’s our workshop calendar that lists dates, times and locations:


Please forward/share this with anyone you know who is uptight about the college process and could use some real world advice!

The schedule goes out through April, and I anticipate adding a handful to the current docket.

The presentations are designed as a “101” level intro to college planning for parents of HS juniors, sophomores and younger.  There is nothing to buy or weird coercion to fork over your wallets, either.

However, I will admit that these presentations are not full of the same-old, same-old you may have heard at your high school “College Night.”

Truthfully, my presentations are slightly politically-incorrect, and I’m never 100% sure what’s going to come out of my mouth.

But I can promise that I will share EVERYTHING possible, in 60-90 minutes, that is agenda-free and purely based on our real world experience advising and coaching families who get into Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Duke, Cornell…

…as well as community colleges, state universities and everything in between.

I’ll also work in some case studies about negotiating with colleges, which, again, will be based on actual experience derived from years in the trenches, not theoretical fluff.

If you’re non-local or too busy to come, we’re planning a webinar in the next 7-10 days, so keep your eyes peeled 🙂

See ya!

-Andy “King Of Mistakes” Lockwood’

P.S. We’ve received a small, growing flurry of emails and calls from people looking for me to answer their questions.  Unfortunately, I don’t have time to do this because I’m too busy with our current, paying clients.

But that’s exactly why I do a lot of live events, webinars and our live shows on our Facebook page – to help parents, anwer their questions, etc. for free.

Here’s the schedule of upcoming events, which are all free, for old time’s sake :).


You may not want to hear this

Easily avoidable financial aid and scholarship mistake...ouch

I was chatting with a client the other day, his daughter had gotten into some pretty good schools. REALLY good colleges, actually.
What was the problem?
She – of course – wants to go to the college that offered ZERO in financial aid and scholarships.
70K smackeroos…per year.
She received great scholarship offers from several other, competitor colleges, including 50% off tuition from Choice #2. But of course none of these schools is as desirable as Full Boat U.
Here’s the kicker – had this client engaged us a year ago, instead of merely a few weeks ago, we could have helped him qualify for at least 25% off at the “Dream College.” His particular combination of modest income but high assets lends itself perfectly to our “sheltering” techniques.
He knew it, I knew it, but it wasn’t productive to bemoan the past. Instead, we’re trying to appeal the award, but I won’t lie – it’s not going so well. I wish we had met in his kid’s Junior year of high school.
If you have a Class of 2018, or younger kiddo, you’re “on the clock.” Financial aid, scholarships, college list, ACT/SAT test prep – there’s a lotta stuff that has to happen – with more urgency than you may think. High school ends in, what, 31/2 months?
I’m conducting two free workshops this month (one tonight) and our first ever open house this Saturday morning. The workshops are general in nature, “College Financial Aid, Scholarships and Admissions Secrets.”
Saturday’s open house is different – it’s an informal way for families interested in our college planning, financial aid and ACT/SAT prep services to kick the tires and play “Make A Deal” before we run out of capacity. You can meet the team – me, Pearl (a/k/a “Financial Aid Warrior”) and our tutor, Marissa (a/k/a “Marissa” 🙂 to ask us anything you want.
All info – including dates, times and locations – is posted here:
(Non-local folks – check out our webinar schedule at www.FinancialAidWebcast.com)
Speak soon,
-Andy “Time Cop” Lockwood
P.S. Space is limited, so registration is first-come, first-served. Tonight’s event in Greenlawn is overbooked (according to Linda at the Harborfields Library, if you must know) but register anyway and you could get lucky with no-shows. Our open house is about 60% full, and our workshop in Garden City later this month is about 47% full so far.
So we’ve got room, for you and a friend or two 🙂 Pass this email along!

How To Pay For College If “She” Is Elected

Hi ho, fellow citizen!

I was just chatting with my friends Anderson Cooper (“Coop,” to his friends), Wolf Blitzer (“Blitz”) and Megyn Kelly (“K-Money”) about the upcoming election and they made an interesting point:

“Who cares?”

I mean, really, if you’re concerned with paying for college, or getting into college, it doesn’t really matter who the president is to you or 99% of the families I know.

Hillary won’t make college free for anyone, because Congress won’t allow it.

I have no idea The Donald’s thoughts on college are, if he even has them.

My point?  There is only one person who can affect how much you pay for college.

(No, it’s not me. Did you think I was going “there?”)

Here’s a hint:  it’s the guy/gal staring back at you when you brush your teeth in the morning.

Yes, Y-O-U!

Your best bet is to arm yourself with powerful insider strategies about the legal “loopholes” that, if taken advantage of, can help you qualify for more grants and scholarships than you thought possible.

You also need to stay away from deadly, eligibility-sabotaging “landmines” that can rob you of the financial aid you deserve – and need – to send your kids to their top choice colleges!

Don’t rely on empty campaign promises to take care of your college woes – take matters into your own hands!

Make it a point to come to one of our workshops this Wednesday or Thursday – assuming the world doesn’t end by then –  to learn how you can slash college costs, even if you think you make too much or cannot possibly qualify!

I’m conducting free workshops in Garden City Park on Wednesday, November 9th and Northport on Thursday, November 10th.  Here are all the registration details directly from me (not via WikiLeak, the Russians or an Anthony Weiner text):


If you have a Class of 2018 child, and are stressed out and uptight about how you’ll possibly afford the high cost of college, here is what you will discover:

  • How to legally hide your money from the financial aid office so that even James Comey won’t investigate you
  • The Art Of The College Deal – how to negotiate a ‘Yuge’ improvement over your initial, lousy financial aid award without resorting to name calling or groping the dean
  • How to shamelessly use a non-profit’s endowment, instead of your own money, to pay tuition
  • Why the suggestion your CPA gave you about where to save could go down in history as the worst bit of advice since “Don’t worry about it, just delete those emails – no-one will never know!”
  • Your questions! (Bring ‘em on!)

You can register here. Please bring a friend or two who is uptight and stressed about paying for college. As long as we have room, they’re welcome to come and they’ll love you forever for thinking of them!


See ya!

-Andy “The Unelectable” Lockwood

P.S.  So I wasn’t REALLY hangin’ with Coop, Blitz or K-Money.  But I’ve been seeing so much of them on TV in my family room lately sometimes it’s hard to remember that we’re not actually “friends.”

If you come to one our workshops this week, you’ll get so much valuable, free information about how to qualify for gi-normous college discounts that you’ll probably think of me as your new bestie!

(I’m available!)

5 Tips On How To Negotiate With A College

How to appeal a lousy financial aid offer after it's given

When I speak to parents about college planning “loopholes” and “landmines,” one of the most interesting topics (judging from the questions I get) is how to negotiate with colleges.

I’m speaking tonight in Dix Hills in detail about this, but I wanted to quickly share my 5 steps for successfully negotiating with a college:

  1. Understand that colleges are BUSINESSES (I know, they’re “nonprofit!”) and, as such, do not always give their highest and best offers because they want your money!
  2. The best way to stack the odds in your favor is to have offers from other, competitor colleges. This means that high school juniors should think about applying strategically – NOT only to colleges featured on rear windows of cars in your neighborhood, Saturday afternoons on ESPN or in March Madness (Prediction – Villanova will report receiving a record number of applications this year)
  3. Follow each college’s rules for appealing a financial aid offer – most have paperwork for you to complete (yay – more forms!) to request a re-evaluation of your award
  4. Have a legitimate reason to ask them to reassess your award – some colleges claim that they will not look at other offers, I’d send them anyway.  Other legit reasons are unanticipated loss of income and unexpected increase in expenses.  Not: We live in an expensive area of the country!  (They know that already, they consider that to be a choice you’ve made.)
  5. Be nice, grateful, courteous.  Not outraged, entitled or aggressive.  Obvious tip that should go without saying?  Um, yeah.  No comment.

If you want more of the “411” on negotiations/appealing and other college planning strategies, come on by tonight at the Half Hollow Hills Library!


Other topics to be covered:

  • How to “hide” your money from the financial aid formulas, the financial aid office and James Comey
  • Legal and ethical strategies to triple your eligibility for financial aid
  • The biggest college planning mistake 53% of parents make…and how to avoid it
  • The counter-intuitive, inconvenient truth behind published admissions statistics…and what you need to know – and do as early as 9th grade – to multiply your odds of getting in
  • The one question your Class of 2018 or younger kid must answer on a college application…but isn’t actually asked
  • More!

Sign up now, we still have 7 seats left as of this morning.  Bring a friend who could use this info, just forward this email


See ya!

-Andy “Art Of The Financial Aid Deal” Lockwood

P.S.  I know, I know, it’s not easy to pull yourself away from the latest Wikileak bombshell scheduled for release tonight.  But I recommend you come anyway. Chances are you’ll be able to catch up on the news after our workshop.