Twas The Night Before FAFSA

Twas the night before FAFSA

And all through the nation

Parents were sweating bullets

Over the cost of higher education

 

“These forms are so annoying!”

One poor father cried

As he sat shuffling papers

While a part of him died

 

“Honey, what’s the big deal?”

The mother inquired

“Our daughter deserves the best

Even if you can never retire!”

 

“I’m all for a great college”

The father practically sobbed

“But I won’t pay for rock climbing or safe spaces

Unless they help her get a job”

 

The mom stopped and stared

And gave dad the stink-eye

So he turned back to his FAFSA

With a shrug and a sigh

 

But he couldn’t let it go

Because in his assessment

College is a big rip off

With no return on investment

 

“Does she even have to go?”

He wondered to himself

“Why can’t she just read a few books

On any library bookshelf?”

 

Lost in his thoughts

He became more dismayed

Because he knew even Ivy League grads

Don’t have it made in the shade

 

But he knew better than to argue

He didn’t want to bicker

Even as he realized

He’d pay a quarter mill for a dumb rear window sticker

 

He snapped out of his fog

And turned back to see

If he filed his FAFSA

Whether he’d get a good EFC

 

“They want me to pay WHAT?”

The dad went ballistic

“What orifice should I pull that from?

How can they be so unrealistic?”

 

“I played by the rules

I saved how I was advised

I lived below my means

But now I’m being penalized!”

 

On that cold winter’s night

He entered his own private hell

Because “winging it” in college planning

Almost never ends well

 

But suddenly, he remembered

A tip from a college guy

He corrected his FAFSA

Giving it the old College Try

 

This time, the result was different!

The dad was MUCH less stressed

Now he could afford to send his daughter

Where she could study, party and protest!

 

Which change did he make

What kind of damage control?

He remembered a strategy

A little-known loophole

 

Financial aid rules are wacky

The regulations are obscene

They go on for more than 1,100 pages

And they’re punitive and Byzantine

 

But sometimes a family

With a little planning and luck

Can level the playing field

So they don’t end up getting…hosed

 

Thankfully, all ended well

For this mom, dad and student

And we can all agree

That failing to plan for college is imprudent

 

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

Don’t Be SPOOKED By The High Cost Of College!

Good eeeeeeve-a-ning……

Quick question:

Are you starring in your own horror movie?

If the financial aid process makes you feel like you’re starring in your own horror movie..

…You know, where everyone in the theater knows what’s going to happen – the actor is about to “get it”when she finds herself in a basement, attic or other abandoned site…

….and hesitantly, stupidly, walks toward some creepy noise (instead of getting the heck outta there!)….

…then pauses, deciding what to do, only to inexplicably open the dark, creaky door, then…

Aaaaaaaaarrrrrrrgggggggggghhhhhhh!!!!!!!

She comes face to face with the monster!

Are YOU that actor?

Financial aid season is here, and the monster is the criminally insane price of college!

But you have one, last chance…we can rescue you from certain doom!

On Monday night (not day, we have to avoid direct sunlight), the little Countess and I are running a new webinar, 21 Deadly Financial Aid Mistakes That Can SLAUGHTER Your Chances Of Getting What You Need – And Deserve!

There’s so much at, ahem, STAKE, you don’t want to miss it!

On this presentation, you will unearth the dark magical secrets of how to:

  • Qualify for every last dollar of financial aid you’re entitled to
  • Avoid ghastly, money-sucking mistakes BURIED in the financial aid forms that could slaughter your chances of receiving the award you deserve
  • Adhere to every DEADline the creepy folks in the financial aid office torture you with
  • Actually RELAX and take a deep breath (remember what that feels like?) during this incredibly high pressure – high stakes – moment in your and your family’s precarious lives!

Don’t let the FAFSA, CSS Profile, financial aid office and monstrously overpriced, rip-off colleges do unspeakably horrible things to you –  register for Monday night’s free webinar:

www.FAFSAmistakes.com

All of the gruesome details, time, location, what to wear (please don’t conceal your neck), etc. are on that registration page.

Please invite some other victims, um, “friends,” who could use this information.

See you on “The Other Side”

Count Andrew FAFSALA Von Lockwuud

Undead College Planner

P.S.  I know, this email was a smidge goofy.  But Pearl and I are GRAVELY serious about helping families avoid staggering student loans (currently $1.4 Trillion with defaults constantly rising), a Zombie-like economy where 50% of college gradutates don’t have jobs TWO YEARS post-graduation.  Not to mention all the parents who sacrifice their retirements and mortgage their financial future up to the eyeballs just to pay for college.

Avoid these horrible fates – enroll today before it’s too late!

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>REGISTER FOR MONDAY NIGHT’S FINANCIAL AID MISTAKES WEBINAR

P.P.S.  Bwah ha hahahahahaha!!!!!

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! 🙂

 

College Planning The Stupid Way!

As a college guy and the parent of a Class of 2017 kid, I can assure you, from both perspectives, that we’re doing it all wrong.

Kids – and parents – pick colleges for the dumbest reasons:

  • Great “rah rah” sports teams (“They went deep in my March Madness bracket!”)

  • Feelings (“When we got there, she just knew!”  Or, “We got out of the car, but got right back in. He said that he just wasn’t feeling it.”)

  • Rank (“Great school!  US News rated them top 200 most selective liberal arts colleges in states that start with “N” and have a horse for a mascot!”)

  • They know other people who attend or have attended (‘My second cousin twice removed’s former babysitter goes there, and SHE ABSOLUTELY LOVES IT!  That means I will too.  Duh.”)

  • (Fill in your own dumb reason here. Better yet, send it to me, I’ll publish the best ones! 🙂

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that you ignore each of the foregoing. However, I urge you to look past rah rah, feel, rank and so forth.

Here’s how we “Backwards Plan” into the college process. Disclaimer – this is not an advertisement, namely because this approach is right only for 25% of the families I meet, give or take.

  1. Focus on the 40, not 4.  Forget college for a few moments, even though it should be an incredible four years (hopefully only four) of your kids’ lives.  Incredible, but not the best four, because that would be sad (you know those guys our age or older still talking about how great college was, or the guys who manage to work into every conversation that they went to Harvard.  Toe curler!)  Instead, get to know yourself, i.e. how you’re “wired,” and what that means for your potential place(s) in the world.  There a bunch of free or inexpensive online assessments to chose from.

  2. Narrow those places in the world to ones where you can actually make a living and get off mom and dad’s payroll!  It’s incredibly easy to major in something that will be as attractive to an employer as backstage tickets to “An Evening With Carrot Top.”  Marine Biology? Architecture?  Women’s Studies?  (Bracing self for hate mail.)

  3. Back into a set of colleges that are reputable in the two or three (hopefully) overlapping areas that match your wiring and are reasonably lucrative.  It’s OK to change majors, 80% of kids do. It’s not OK to change majors and have to spend an extra year or two acquiring enough credits to graduate.  You’ll spend an extra $40-60K per year, and you’ll delay entry into the workforce, which opportunity cost could be $50K per year.  It adds up, Sparky!

  4. Learn the rules of the game and do what it takes to get into your top colleges!  Understand that it’s more marketing than meritocracy.  Yes, of course, grades and standardized test scores are important.  But they might factor roughly 60% of the admissions decision, according to long-time Princeton University Admissions Committee Member Don Betterton.  To get into a top school, you must realize that you are in business for yourself and must answer the “Why should we pick you” unspoken question on every admissions officer’s lips.

  5. Get discounts!  The average tuition discount in 2015 was 48.6%.  When they (The National Association Of Collegiate Business Officers) release 2016’s numbers, I betcha that the discount will be larger, because it grows each year.  The point is that paying full price for college is not an obligation, it’s a choice.   If you’re strategic and think about ROI (return on investment), instead of mascots and “feel” only, your results will be a heckuva lot better than families who surrender the process over to their hormonal 16-17 year olds and “wing it.”

——-

Two local events this week to help you discover how to get in – and pay “wholesale” prices for the best colleges in the US of A.  Please, pretty please forward to any and all fellow parents who could use this info!

Free workshop – Tuesday, 4/25, 7pm at the Roslyn Public Library (13 seats left)

A free community workshop for stressed out parents of high school juniors who want to 10x their kids’ chances of getting into their “Dream Colleges” and learn how to qualify for “yuge” tuition discounts.   Learn “loopholes” and “landmines” on the financial aid forms, how to negotiate with colleges, more.  

REGISTER FOR ROSLYN PUBLIC LIBRARY WORKSHOP

Open House – Saturday, 4/29, 10am -12pm in our NEW Woodmere location (25 seats max)

This event is a “meet and greet” for parents interested in our college advising, financial aid & scholarships and/or ACT/SAT tutoring services.  Our star tutor, Marissa, Pearl and I will be there to INFORMALLY  answer questions and play “let’s make a deal!”  Special incentives to be offered.

REGISTER FOR 4/29 OPEN HOUSE IN WOODMERE

See ya!

– Andy “Tough Love” Lockwood

3 Ways Your Guidance Counselor Might Be Sabotaging You

Local college financial aid, admissions planning workshop

Recent College Planning “Secrets” Workshop

Fair warning, this is a bit of a “mini-rant.”

But I need to get this off my chest, because it’s been going on for far too long…

…and it’s hurting our kids’ futures.

Be honest – we choose colleges for the dumbest reasons.  Just because a particular college “went deep” in the NCAA tournament, or is in The South, or happens to be festooned on the rear window stickers of cars in your neighborhood, does NOT mean that it’s a “good school.”

Even US News & World Report rank is seriously flawed – not to mention easily manipulatable.  I wish guidance counselors would explain this to their students – and parents.

The next gripe has to do with getting our kids’ hopes up about their chances of admission at top colleges.  It’s easy – and, frankly, a bit lazy – to use a tool like Naviance and proclaim, “These are your Safeties, Targets and Reaches.” How helpful is this?

You be the judge.  Naviance factors two things: academic credentials (grades and standardized test scores) and how your child stacks up compared to his/her peers from that high school.

However, academic credentials are weighted approximately 60% (!) in the overall admissions decision.  In other words, Naviance ignores 40% of the elements that admissions officers examine.  How comfortable can you feel?

College admissions is more marketing than meritocracy!

Even if you don’t like it.

Even if it’s “not fair.”

The other fatal flaw is that your kid is facing competition from all over the world, not merely from your particular high school.  I know you and your kids are curious about where you stand, but how are you supposed to rely on this microscopic amount of information?

You’re competing with thousands of kids with the same grades and scores, Naviance shows you a handful of them, artificially chosen.

Problem 3 is that most kids – and parents – don’t have a serious college planning discussion until late in 11th grade, when they have “The Meeting” with their guidance counselor (and walk out with the same list of colleges as the family who met with her before them).

My issue is that kids start creating their “body of work” that admissions officers will judge as early as 9th grade. By the time you meet with your guidance counselor, at least half of the choices and decisions about classes, extracurricular activities, what to do over the summer and so forth will already have been made.  Whoops!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing individual guidance counselors, although I know that many will take what I’ve written this way.  Guidance counselors are part of the system, but most of them are hard working, they have far more to do than meet with kids about college, and most genuinely mean well.

Look, I listed only three problems here, I didn’t get into financial aid, scholarships, college essays, negotiating with colleges and a LOT more stuff that needs to be addressed.

I’m conducting a free workshop on all of the above this Wednesday night, in Garden City.

http://lockwoodworkshops.com/

Discussions topics include:

  • Which types of savings accounts “penalize” you in the financial aid formulas, which do not count against you at all

  • What to do at the 11th hour if you’ve saved in the wrong places

  • The inconvenient, politically incorrect truth about what college admissions officers REALLY want to see (hint:  it’s not just super high grades and ridiculous standardized test scores)

  • How millionaires can get discounts of 48.6% off the cost of college

  • How to “10X” odds of admission, even if your kid didn’t cure a deadly disease last summer or build a village in a Third World country over winter break

  • WARNING:  your guidance counselor’s, accountant’s or “financial guy’s” advice may have SABOTAGED your chances of aid

  • The new changes to the FAFSA financial aid form and what they mean for your family

  • The surprising truth about what admissions officers are REALLY looking for

  • Little-known financial aid “loopholes” for business owners

  • Negotiation secrets: How a mild-mannered college planner got an extra $30,000  – per year – out of a top West Coast college AFTER its “final” offer

We added more seats last week, so please send this invitation along to any of your fellow parents who are facing the same obstacles and have the same questions.  As long as we have room, they’re welcome to come!

http://lockwoodworkshops.com/

I hope you can make it, especially if you have a Class of 2018 or 2019 kid.

Sincerely,

Andy “Busted Bracket” Lockwood

P.S.  I know the tone of this message was a little, ahem, “strong,” but our kids are facing severe obstacles and I feel like someone needs to shout til they’re blue in the face about it to get us all to wake up:  Student debt and defaults continue to skyrocket, 50% of kids who graduated college two years ago STILL don’t have  jobs that require a college degree, 93% of employers say that college grads are unprepared to work for them.  I could go on, but you get the point!  🙂

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!
 

Proprietary “College Guru” Software

Predict your chances of admission, scholarships and financial aid with 90% certainty



Nothing against Naviance™ , but it’s pretty darn misleading.

What do I mean?  Consider the following:

  1. Naviance factors in grades and standardized test scores…BUT academic credentials “count” approximately 60% of the admissions equation.  In other words, Naviance ignores 40% of the factors going into the decision to admit or deny.
  2. Naviance looks at your (your kid’s) chances compared to other kids from your high school who were admitted into each college…BUT you’re not competing with kids from your school, you’re up against competitor-applicants from all over the world.

Our “College Planning Guru” software was designed by Don Betterton, a long-time (30+ years) admissions committee member and Director of Financial Aid at Princeton University, along with two of his Princeton students.

When I speak to Mr. Betterton, it’s like I’m talking to the Burning Bush!

This software considers practically ALL of the elements that go into the admissions decision. There are 20-25, including grades and scores.

What this means for you

When you use our software, you will

  • Get a realistic idea of your odds of admission to the colleges on your list so that you can avoid “Admissions Armageddon” (denied by all of your colleges)
  • Create a balanced and strategic list of schools
  • See how to improve your odds of admission by increasing extracurricular activities, volunteer hours, etc.
  • Handicap your shot of receiving merit scholarships from your colleges
  • Calculate your eligibility for need-based aid from your colleges
  • Feel comfortable and confident that you’ll get into most of your colleges!

The investment

For a limited time you can get access to this “secret” tool that is not available to the public.  Try searching for it, I’ll wait 🙂  (It’s currently being offered for $997)

The investment is only $297, then after 90 days, $47 per month.  You can cancel any time, it’s not a cell phone contract or gym membership!

Enroll today, get clarity and confidence about YOUR college plan, today!

get started today yellow button

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