FAFSA Corrections, IDOCs And OCA’s (Other Confusing Acronyms)

We’re *ss-deep in FAFSAs and CSS Profiles around here but I wanted to issue a public service announcement to clients and non-clients alike.

FAFSA “Corrections:”  Financial aid applicants can receive notices of “correction” for many reasons.  One of the most annoying/misleading occurs when you apply to more than 10 schools.

Listen up, hear me now and believe me later:  FAFSA takes 10 colleges in one “batch.”  If you have 12 colleges on your list, the procedure should be to file the first 10, then wait two-three days for FAFSA to process.  THEN, go back into FAFSA, delete two colleges, ADD the missing two and resend.

Bam!

This addition is a “correction” in FAFSA speak, nothing more.  Remain calm.

CSS Profile IDOC: Here’s what’s up with IDOC.  After you file a CSS Profile, you will likely receive a notice from the good folks at the College Board that they need your tax returns, W-2’s, etc.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE – use IDOC to upload your info, follow the directions, they’re easy and not a scam either 🙂

Bonus “Fun” 

Don’t wait until the last minute to file anything.  There have been issues with the CSS Profile website, seemingly due to high volume and, I suspect, a hasty redesign of their site for this season.  Here’s a comforting “Alert” that Pearl’s been seeing intermittently for the last few days when she attempts to file our clients’ CSS Profiles:

If you’re interested in our help with your financial aid forms, here’s where to go:

Financial Aid Warrior Forms Prep Service

We are not accepting November 1 deadlines, fyi – just sayin’ 🙂

Speak soon,

– Andy “Financial Aid Scoop” Lockwood

P.S. If you have questions about our forms prep or other services, email us at vip@andylockwood.com or call 516-882-5464

How To Get Your Act Together For College

Financial aid, scholarships, application and essay tips you won't hear at your HS "College Night"

andy college shirt pearl red patterned shirt

Over the years, we’ve heard some of the STUPIDEST things from guidance counselors.

  • Don’t submit a resume, it’s too “braggy” and you’ll make the admissions officer feel badly
  • Stick with [State University], it’s the best you can do
  • You won’t get any money for college, it’s a waste of time to apply (but you should still sit through an excruciating line by line 90-minute presentation in our cafeteria on the FAFSA!)

Look, I actually like most guidance counselors, especially the ones who care and admit that “they don’t know what they don’t know.”

But you’re the one about to send your kiddo to college, and you need answers.

Answers to questions like,

How do I even apply for financial aid?

Should I bother, I own a home, have a job and pay my bills?

I’ve heard how easy it is to screw up the forms, how do I avoid checking the wrong box or messing up something else?

Is it true that there are “loopholes” that can help me qualify for more financial aid?  I don’t care how sleazy or illegal they are, I can’t pay $65,000 per year per kid!

That’s why we’re hosting a brand-new, free presentation for parents of Class of 2018 and younger,  How To Get Your Act Together For College.

REGISTER FOR WEBINAR

We’re going to cover a bunch of checklist items for financial aid, scholarships, applications, essays, college visits, interviews, even how to handle your guidance counselor.

(We will NOT be discussing any sleazy or illegal tips.)

(I save the “good stuff” for actual clients! 🙂

This is the first time we’re sharing information like this, to be utterly candid.  As in, I have no idea how things will go.

Especially because we’ll be running chat, live, which means that you’ll get to fire away your questions!

It all happens tonight – Thursday night!

You’d be smart to tune in tonight before the school year picks up momentum and you learn that you don’t have time for anything!

Please forward this email invitation to any family who feels like they’re behind the College Eight Ball – while there’s still time! 🙂

See you tonight!

Andy “Despised By Guidance Counselors” Lockwood

P.S. This presentation is definitely NOT going to be the “same old same old” as you’ll hear this Fall at one of those high school College Nights.  Pearl and I are 100% independent, we don’t answer to any administration or district, which is why you’ll hear a lot of non politically-correct opinion and pointers.  (Consider yourself warned! 🙂

 

5 Deadly College Planning Mistakes

Avoid these college application, FAFSA and CSS Profile errors to achieve College Success...For Less!

Year after year, college-bound teens and their families commit the same mistakes, which can prevent them from attending the “Dream Colleges” they deserve at the prices they need!  Here’s a short list to help you manage the college process successfully.

1.  Not applying for financial aid because you assume that you will not qualify for anything.  It’s not only low income families that receive financial aid and scholarships.  Most funding goes to families in the top quartile of income, i.e. six-figure earners.

2.  Focusing on rank.  US News & World Report built a business out of ranking colleges.  But if you look at the criteria used, you won’t find anything relating to quality of education.

Rank is easily manipulated.  Ever wonder why colleges that were “safety” schools when we grew up are now crazy-hard to get into?  Today, you need a 1400 SAT or low 30’s ACT and a solid A average to be admitted to U Miami.  In the 1980s, you’d get in if you had a C average, rich parents and a drug habit.   (Google, “How Northeastern gamed the rankings” for the jaw dropping story about how another “regular” college became elite.)

3.  Naivete about the truth:  College is a business.  You likely understand this, but if you’re uncertain, tour a college and check out the workout facilities and dining options.  Oh, and the rock climbing wall.  And Lazy River.  Are you at a college or a resort?  Yes!

Here’s how you can beat them at their own game.  Apply to colleges that compete with one another!  This way you might be able to improve your scholarship or financial aid award by “playing them off” each other.

4. Blowing deadlines.  Most families fixate on Early Decision or Early Action deadlines, commonly November 1 or November 15 (but they vary by college).  However, all-too-often parents get blindsided by priority financial aid deadlines, which are buried in on each college’s website.

Priority financial aid deadlines also vary from college to college, so you must research which forms to file – and when to file them – for each and every college on your list.  The FAFSA and CSS Profile come out October 1, but the DEADLINES to file are whenever each college tells you to submit them.  If you inadvertently blow a deadline, you’ll miss out on grants and scholarships you otherwise deserve.

5. Starting too late.  I could rack off another 25 mistakes that could sabotage your chances of admission and/or getting funds without breaking a sweat.  Most of the time these errors can be easily avoided…if you get a jump on the process and go about it strategically, not by merely “winging it” at the last minute.

Andrew Lockwood, J.D.  wrote the best selling books How to Pay ‘Wholesale’ for College, The Incomparable Applicant and College Essay Insider Secrets.   He and Pearl Lockwood (his wife, the last name isn’t a coincidence) own Lockwood College Consulting in Jericho and specialize in helping “Forgotten Middle Class” families get into, and pay discounted prices for the best colleges in the country.  Contact us today for a complimentary College Strategy Session by going to www.BookLockwood.com!

Surprising News About Desperate College Discounting

Lots of news in the last couple of days about how colleges discount families, including one great NY Times article, How Colleges Know What You Can Afford.

(Side note: yes, there are other news stories pertaining to non-Trump items, they’re just hard to find 🙂

I think all the discounting talk is terrific, because the likely consequence will be to teach parents how to avoid paying full price.  Fun fact:  at any given college, roughly 75% of families receive some sort of discount off the “sticker price.”  Fun fact deux:  the average discount at a private college is now 49.1%.

On a related but different note, each year at this time the National Association For College Admission Counseling, of which I am NOT a member, thank you very much, releases a list of colleges that are STILL accepting applications.  Yes, as in “now,” even as we close out May!

You might be thinking, what schools are on this list?  Are they undesireable (dare I say, “deplorable”) colleges?

Of course you should judge for yourself, but there are more than 500 schools on the list. I betcha dollars to donuts that you’ll be surprised if you scroll through them.  I sure was when I saw the likes of Hofstra, High Point and Elon!

COLLEGE OPENINGS LIST

The NYT article and this list serve to remind us that this college stuff is all one big bid-ness, which by now should be patently obvious to anyone who has not been living under a rock for the last few years.

The lesser-understood implication, however, is that YOU – and your children – are in business for yourselves too, whether or not you realize it.  The business of getting the lowest price possible so that you have a shot at College Return On Investment…

AND the business of marketing yourself (your kids) to desireable colleges, when it’s becoming harder and harder to stand out in a sea of sameness when thousands of your competitor-applicants appear to have the same grades and standardized test scores.

Here’s where you can get more – free – information on how to multiply odds of admission, and create a windfall of grants and scholarships, even if you think you can’t possibly qualify:

>>>>>>>>>>COLLEGE PLANNING SECRETS WORKSHOP & WEBINAR SCHEDULE

You’ll see that I’m speaking locally at the Wantagh Public Library tonight, and have a webinar and more live appearances in the next two weeks.

If you’re confused, stressed out and flat-out frustrated that there’s nowhere to get college planning information that you can actually use, our free workshops are exactly what the doctor ordered.  Plus, they’re air conditioned!

Hope to see you soon!

Andy “College ROI Guy” Lockwood

P.S.  I’d love you to forward this post along to anyone you think needs this information -thank you (and your forwardees  – should be a word – will thank you too! :)!

How To Choose A College List

I answer this question from "Gary" - recent webinar attendee

Thought this would be helpful – Gary asked me about the best way to create a college list for his daughter, Class of 2018, 97 average and wants to major in (a very popular major).

In this video, I describe the three “Gets”

For more info:

Brady, Belichick and college planning lessons

I had to do it…

Here are are the top seven lessons about college planning we can learn from Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s Super Bowl win for the ages last night (Best game EVA!).  If you’re a non-sports fan, I apologize, but this piece is more about college planning than football.  Here are my lessons from last night:

1. Incredible challenges.  The Patriots season, and Superbowl game, was laden with all kinds of obstacles:  suspension of superstar quarterbackTom Brady, injuries to key players, a 25 point deficit last night, caused by a fumble, interception and a ridiculously fast and well-prepared Falcons defense.  Not to mention history: no quarterback or coach had ever won five Superbowls.

The college process is also full of obstacles:  rejections, deferrals, parent-child drama, peer-to-peer drama, less than stellar grades and standardized test scores, bad interviews, missed deadlines, poor guidance and so forth.  Junior year to first half of senior year is flat out the MOST challenging time in most middle class kids’ lives.

2.Detractors.  The Pats, Brady and Coach Belichick are hated by millions of fans. Pats supporters believe, with some justification, that the commissioner of the NFL also had some kind of weird vendetta against them.  Even some of Patriot Nation turned their backs when they learned of Brady, Belichick and owner Robert Kraft’s friendships with President Trump!

College-bound teens  face detractors in the form of their fellow teens, and, yes, parents of other teens who root against them. Shocking, I know, but I calls ‘em like I sees ‘em.  You may not like or believe this, but many parents and teens are ultra-competitive and a little sneaky or secretive about their tutors, college list and plans. And yes, there’s a lot trash talking, behind the back and, occasionally, in front of the faces (or smart phones) of fellow competitor-applicants.

3. Excuses.  The Pats had every reason in the world to have a mediocre season, let alone lose last night:  the aforementioned injuries, including the season-ender to the undefendable Rob Gronkowski, the four game suspension, which led to games featuring their 2nd string and 3rd string quarterbacks substituting for Brady.

Even if you hate the Pats, you have to admit that they never made excuses for not performing up to the standards they hoped to achieve.  They won three of their four Brady-less games and pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in all sports, ever.

It’s too easy for kids and parents to make excuses in the college planning process:  ACT or SAT scores not as high as they should have been because the room was too hot or too cold. Or their tutor didn’t do a good job.  Or teachers giving bad grades because they “suck” or dislike the child for some reason.  Even when kids or parents miss deadlines to apply or file financial aid forms, because “No one told them.”  It may feel good, temporarily, to blame someone else for underperforming, but it’s not going to get you anywhere.

4. Game Plan.  The Pats had a plan for last night’s game. It didn’t look so great when they were down by 25.  But they believed in it, were flexible enough to made adjustments, and, most importantly, executed it, little by little, possession by possession.

Here’s a big issue in the college process: It is highly unusual for college-bound teens and their parents to have any semblance of a strategy, or plan. Instead, they focus on tactics, such as loading up on APs, taking the ACT 12 times, haphazardly coming up with a big project to fill up their activity sheet to “look good” on their college applications.  These types of tactics are arguably necessary, but lack an overarching, cohesive plan because they ignore fundamental questions such as “What is the goal beyond ‘Getting into a good school,” The definition of a “good school,” applying to a set of schools that compete with one another for the type of student your kid presents, “positioning” your child to enhance his/her candidacy, positioning yourself for the maximum amount of scholarships and financial aid, and more.  College-bound families would be smart to stop, take a breath, and do some serious THINKING about what they’re doing, and why.

5. Work ethic.  Sports writers have chronicled the insane work ethics of Brady and Belichick over the years. But my guess is that Belichick does not work harder than his peers, I’ve had three or four NFL coaches as clients over the years, and have always been struck by how much time they put in at the office.  I’m taking 14-18 hour days, six days a week for nine months.

But I marvel at Brady, whose motivation level is off the charts and unexplainable to a guy like me, considering how much he’s accomplished already and what he has going for him – the championships, the supermodel wife, more money than he can spend, the looks. If anyone should feel entitled to slack off a little, it’s Tommy. Yet he still, at age 39 (!), works as hard as any player in the NFL and has a mind blowing off-season routine of diet (green shakes, avocado ice cream) and exercise for hours per day.  Even if you can’t stand him, you have to respect his burning desire to be the best he can be.

Many kids have far more work to do than we parents did, growing up. But if you’re applying to a bunch of competitive colleges, your competition is working at least as hard as you. So if it means taking the AP class instead of honors, or doing one more practice ACT instead of messing around on Instagram or Snapchat, make that “sacrifice.”  (Incidentally, Brady was a terrific student at U Michigan, as was his Falcons counterpart Matt Ryan at Boston College.)

6. Faith.  Reportedly, there wasn’t any panic in the Patriots’ locker room at halftime, when they were down 18 and Atlanta’s defense appeared impregnable.  Disappointment, to be certain, but no yelling, crying or suicide attempts.  Instead, they had faith in themselves, which was the backbone of their resilience and victory.

Many kids today are not resilient. Frankly, a lot of us parents coddle them and try to shield them from adversity, to give them “the best.” It’s not just parents, at least directly, grade inflation in most high schools is rampant, for example.  Everyone has a 92 average an is in National Honor Society.

But this is counter-productive. Predictably, this leads to kids having a lack of confidence, and faith, in themselves, because they’ve never overcome any meaningful obstacles.  Even the slightest bit of negative feedback throws them for a loop.  My message to kids, and families, is that it’s ok to feel like sh*t if something doesn’t go your way, but trust yourself and keep working.  EVERYTHING will work out, so have faith.

7. Coaching. Yes, the Patriots work hard in practice, but I doubt that they work harder than most NFL teams.  To win, it’s about working hard AND smart – i.e. under the eyes of an experienced coach.

The most successful college applicants get coached through the process, too.  Lest you think this is a plug for me and our firm, it’s not.  Coaching can come in all sorts of sizes and shapes – guidance counselors (there are plenty of great ones), parents, even college consultants who are not named Andy and didn’t attend the same college as the greatest NFL coach of all time, “Bells,” as we referred to him back at Wesleyan.  Just kidding, he’s a wee bit older than I (but you just KNOW that someone must have called him that!).

The bigger point is that if you work hard, but dumb, you’ll fail.  Get help from someone with a track record of success that is qualified.

If you are interested in talking to us about our college coaching or other services, we are filling up with Class of 2018 families but still have availability.  You can book a free College Strategy Session here (regularly $249) because I’m all giddy about the Patriots and am in a celebratory mood.

Have a great day, God knows I am!

– Andy “Not Too Old To Be Immature About Sports” Lockwood

P.S.  The link for non-clients to book a chat is:

www.CollegeStrategySession.com

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):

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>REGISTER FOR UPCOMING WORKSHOP

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!

www.CollegeFinanceWorkshop.com

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!

>>>>>>>>>REGISTER FOR FREE COLLEGE PLANNING WORKSHOP

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

>>>>>>>>>REGISTER FOR FREE COLLEGE PLANNING WORKSHOP

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.

Fact Checking High School “College Night”

Have you been to your high school’s annual College Night meeting yet?

Pearl went last night pre-debate (and pre rant), and is going to report on her experience today on College Talk Tuesday, [12:00]-[12:30] ET.

Spoiler alert – she was not too surprised at what was said…

But she was shocked by what was NOT said!

She’ll share her thoughts today.

www.CollegeTalkTuesday.live

ALSO…..

We are hosting our own Virtual College Night this Thursday on College Success For Less, live and barely scripted!  You’ll have the chance to ask us your questions about financial aid.

We’ll rerun the recording throughout the weekend too (sign up for both live and recorded.)

Note: This will be your last chance for a deep dive on the financial aid and college planning process before the FAFSA is released October 1st.

www.CS4L.tv

Please pass this information along to other parents!

Andy “Just The Facts” Lockwood

Financial Aid & Scholarships Workshop Tomorrow in Huntington

Learn how to get "YUGE" discounts off the cost of college at this one-time only event....

My Fellow Humans –

We’re doing a free college planning workshop tomorrow, Saturday morning at the Long Island Achievement Center in Huntington.

As the presumptive nominee, I will be delivering a landmark speech* that will outline my platform, including:

  • How to negotiate a better deal with the college financial aid office after they’ve issued you their “final” award
  • How to WIN the college financial aid game even if you earn six figures and think “No way can we qualify”
  • How the financial aid system is RIGGED against Forgotten Middle Class families and what they can do about it
  • Five YUGE, costly mistakes on the financial aid forms to avoid, that could cost you thousands
  • Why the advice you’ve received from your establishment CPA or “Financial Guy” may have screwed your chances of getting a fair award…and what to do about it at the 11th hour
  • How the price for an expensive private college might end up lower than an alleged “cheaper” state university
  • Tricky, sneaky strategies for business owners that do not involve bankrupting your company or moving your biz offshore
  • Special considerations for divorced and separated parents whose names are not “Ivanka”
  • How to plaster your hairdo into place and make it camera-ready with proper hair product 🙂
    More!

This event is tomorrow morning, hope you can make it, details below.

It’s a smallish (non-YUGE) venue, 20 slots (featuring terrific folks of all sorts of backgrounds, orientations and ethnicities, thank you very much!) are already spoken for between our registration page and the LI Achievement Center’s:

>>>>>>>>>>EVENT DETAILS AND REGISTRATION

God Bless!

– Andy “Not Invited To Cleveland Or Philly” Lockwood

P.S. I will not be working off a teleprompter, so no script – anything goes! Bring your questions!

———-

*Or saying the same ol’ stuff I always say! 🙂