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.  


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.


See ya!

– Andy “Tough Love” Lockwood

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
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

Financial aid, college admissions “Crunch Time!”

Last minute college planning, financial aid, scholarships tips for college-bound teens

Hi there

We’re headed into the home stretch for seniors, between struggling with college applications, essays, regular homework, teacher recommendations and those “Back To School” nights…

…Not to mention the official October 1 opening of Financial Aid Season, when the FAFSA and CSS Profile come out (less than two weeks!).

That’s why stress levels for Class of 2017 kids and parents these days are as high as Snoop Dogg!

(Note:  I thought about substituting “Gary Johnson” but went with Snoop Dogg instead.  Each made me giggle.)

Permit me to throw out three quickie, important tips:

  1. Trust your recommenders, guidance counselors to do their jobs – writing up your letters, sending your transcripts to EVERY college…but VERIFY.  A little paranoia goes a long way.

  2. Get a handle on your financial aid deadlines – they vary by school!  Look ‘em up on each college’s website.

  3. Also get a handle on WHICH FORMS each college requires, some want only the FAFSA, others want the CSS Profile also (NOT “in lieu of” the FAFSA, in addition to), still others have their own or additional forms

Failure to do any or all of the above could result in needlessly shooting yourself in the foot re: getting into your top choice colleges,  or getting the grants, scholarships and other financial aid you otherwise deserve!

Here’s a list of upcoming events that we’re holding to help you cope, whether you’re Class of 2017, 2018 or younger.

Please forward this notice around to any/all parents who could use it!!!

Speak soon,

-Andy “Crunch Time” 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 🙂

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:


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! 🙂

Interview: Scholarship Strategist Ashley Hill

The truth about Scholly, Cappex and other scholarship websites revealed

Andy Lockwood grills scholarship strategy expert Ashley Hill about:

  • The biggest mistake applicants make when searching for scholarships
  • How reliable are websites like Scholly and Cappex
  • Scholarship essay tips
  • Local scholarships vs websites
  • The truth about volunteer hours and leadership
  • More!

Here’s where to get more information about our *guaranteed* scholarship strategic consulting services:

get started today yellow button

10 Financial Aid Strategies For Families Who Think They Can’t Qualify

Scholarship, financial aid, FAFSA "loopholes" and "landmines"

Many “Forgotten Middle Class” families have no idea how the college financial aid process works.  They needlessly leave thousands – or tens of thousands – of dollars on the table each year in terms of lost eligibility for grants and scholarships that they could have qualified for. This article highlights 10 little known facts about college funding so that you can qualify for the maximum available to your family.

  1. Some types of savings penalize you more than others.  Strangely, the advice you may have received from your accountant or “financial guy” about where to save may actually have sabotaged your chances of qualifying. Many families discover, after it’s too late, that they should not have saved money in their children’s names, for example.
  2. Some types of savings are entirely exempt.  Each year, I personally learn of scores of families who shot themselves in the foot by disclosing assets on the financial aid forms that should not have been disclosed.  Example:  retirement accounts do not fall under the definition of “investment” for purposes of the FAFSA (one of the two main financial aid forms) and should not be listed, or you will lose eligibility for grants and some scholarships.
  3. Colleges negotiate.  Although they are technically non-profit institutions of higher education, colleges are very much in business. (Ever look at the amenities they offer their students? Rock climbing walls?  Lazy rivers? C’mon!). Therefore, they do not always give their “highest and best” offer when they issue financial aid.  You might be able to get them to increase their offer, especially if you have other offers from competitor colleges.
  4. Expensive private colleges could actually cost less than so-called “cheaper” public universities.  I know, I know, this is counter-intuitive.  But private colleges give more because they have more – endowment funds.  Public colleges generally rely on their respective state governments and the federal government for their scholarship and grant awards, so they have less to give because budgets have been cut across the board.
  5. At any given college, roughly 25% pay full price.  The technical term for this group is “Suckers!”  Most of the families at any given school receive aid.  As a highly paid professional college consultant I recommend you try to get into the 75% group! 🙂
  6. Private colleges “bribe” kids they want to attend.  According to the National Association of Collegiate Business Officers, the average discount is 46.3%.  Average!  
  7. Rank is easily manipulated.  There have been numerous shocking stories over the years about how colleges manufactured their high rank in US News and World Report, by both legal and illegal means!  Google “Emory ranking scandal” or “How Northeastern gamed the rankings” if you have a strong stomach.  Either way, do not apply only to high ranked, “Rear Window Sticker” schools because you assume that they are somehow better.
  8. The college financial aid rules change all the time. In September, the Department of Education revised their regulations. Starting in 2017, a family filling out the FAFSA must provide two years’ worth of income tax information, compared to only one under the current system.  The department made other important changes relating to filing date and whether other colleges can see where you are applying
  9. 53% of eligible families do not apply.  I have seen that statistic for years, but never a solid source.  (Other than the Internet of course!) Nonetheless, I believe it to be basically true, because most six-figure earning families that I consult with are stunned that they can receive anything!  Everyone should apply for financial aid, even if their neighbor or know-it-all sister in law (the one whose daughter is ED’ing to Penn) give you unsolicited advice to the contrary.  After all, did SHE write a best-selling book on financial aid?  Seriously, does she know how the financial aid rules work, how much you earn, what you have saved, etc.?
  10. The biggest mistake families commit is starting too late in the process.  By the time your child hits senior year of high school, many options that you had in 10th or 11th grade may no longer be available.  The college process is like a train, it leaves the station whether or not you are “ready.”  Start your college planning early!

Below is a webcast from earlier this year that gives more detail on how the whole system works!

I hope you found this post to be helpful.

How to Pay “Wholesale” for College (Best Seller) (Syosset NY: Guru publishing, 2014)

buy_book_on_amazon Financial aid and scholarship strategies for “Forgotten Middle Class” families who think to themselves, Why bother trying, financial aid isn’t for families like us!

How to Pay “Wholesale” for College is a lively, frequently humorous but valuable guide for anyone with a college-bound teen who is scared, confused or more than a smidge nervous about how they’ll manage to foot the bill for the ever-increasing cost of college in today’s tough times.