Meredith Reynolds - Head Start College Blog

Archive for April, 2007

Dreams Happen at Target and Safety Schools as Well
April 18th, 2007

The most striking reality these final weeks of April is that the majority of high school seniors are choosing between two safety schools, or if fortunate ,between a safety and a target school. I’m sure you can list on one hand the number of seniors you know who are choosing between two of their reach schools.

Yes, it is true that gaining acceptance to college is getting tougher with every passing year, and is expected to continue this trend until at earliest 2013. For the unborn child that is good news. For the rest of aspiring students past the sixth grade, we need to focus our research and reflection not on those exciting “reach” colleges that fill our dreams, but instead on the runner-up “target” schools that are almost as good but not quite. Equally important is to understand your “safety” schools–there’s no safety in a school you learn in April doesn’t have the major you want.

Though I hesitate to quote Stanford’s Dean of Admissions, a school oft cited for “wacky” admissions decisions, Richard Shaw’s message to parents and students is to “celebrate what you have. The key here is for families to rally around options and move forward.” And to parents in particular he advises them to step back and make sure they’re not more upset than their son or daughter. Upon reflection families so often report, “It was all for the best. She couldn’t have been happier.” Dreams come in many packages–yes, they happen every day at target and safety schools as well.
Make the choice. Celebrate your senior’s accomplishments in high school. Prepare for a summer when you’re all in transition to this exciting new stage in life. Frequent hugs will help to get everyone through it. Even the family dog will need extra support as he/she loses a friend to college.

But I Don’t Qualify for Financial Aid…You Might Be Surprised!
April 12th, 2007

Southern California, April 12…sunny skies, breezy and 70 degrees…perfect weather for staying inside, completing your taxes, waiting in line at the Post Office AND coming straight home to complete your son or daughter’s FAFSA!?!…Free Application for Federal Student Aid: the form required to be completed by all applicants for federal student aid and sufficient for most states and private colleges to establish eligibility for non-federally sponsored aid programs.

The FAFSA can be completed entirely on line in little over an hour using data from your current 1040 forms. What is considered when calculating student need? Annual income and value of investments are the two major factors. NOT considered is the value of your primary residence! [Note I recommend that you sign your student’s FAFSA electronically by requesting a pin. It will take a day or so now, but save you a lot of time in future years.And remember even if you are denied aid this year, reapply in future years.]

You will be asked to enter the code for the school(s) your son/daughter plans to attend next year. …DON’T wait for a final decision.

Every day that passes the line is forming for financial aid at each college and university.

The individual colleges and universities may ask you to provide them with additional information to complete the application. In my experience satisfying these requests takes mimimal time.

It is hard to predict whether or not your son/daughter qualifies for financial aid. It depends on you, them, other students applying, their parents and the financial aid at the discretion of the college or university. So stay inside one more hour and complete your FAFSA. Good luck!

P.S. The sooner the better for submitting a FAFSA, but it’s never too late…summer or even during the school year. The size of the pot of available moneys is just shrinking. But we all know circumstances don’t always change according to schedule, so never hesitate to approach the Office of Financial Aid at your son or daughter’s college at any time throughout the years. They want your son/daughter to have the opportunity to graduate from their college.

Perhaps most important for the entire family, the Head Start College program paces students to complete their applications by Thanksgiving.


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