Friday, January 31, 2014

Waiting, waiting, waiting

So here we are, beginning of the end:  second semester of senior year.  For some, you have heard from colleges and may even know where you will be headed next fall.  For others, you may be waiting on all the offers and financial letters to make a decision.  Which likely will not happen until late March.  And the buzz is reaching fever pitch.

Unfortunately, some parents view where their child has been accepted as a reflection on parenting skills.  Throw in a little friendly competitiveness, and one can start to fell less than adequate.  How fondly I remember running into a mother whose daughter was a friend of my son's.  Within 60 seconds, unsolicited, I knew where she had been accepted and how much money she had received.  The she asked where was my son going.  I replied we were still deciding.  It was roughly this time of year and we hadn't heard from all the schools.  She looked at me as though I had 3 eyes.  It was great that she was so proud of her daughter, and I know she meant no ill will.

Students also can get a bit frenzied.  Many colleges notified students of acceptance decisions via email.  With all the smart phones out there, this became a very public event as students screamed with joy upon learning the acceptance.  But how about the deferred or rejected student?  It is tough in front of friends when the news is not what a student was hoping for.

What to do?  As much as possible, avoid those conversations and be strong when you say, "we are still deciding", because you are!  In the words of a favorite teacher, "Don't get sucked in"!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Applications are done, but wait, there's more!

So the college applications are submitted, and now it is time to get the FAFSA done as well as any other financial aid forms schools are requesting.

What is FAFSA?
  • ·         FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid and it's the form students and parents  fill out to receive federal  financial aid for college. The FAFSA will ask about the student's demographics, student dependency and student and parent financial info.  It is FREE and if one is at a site requesting payment, that is the wrong place!

Why should I fill out the FAFSA?
  • ·         Filing the FAFSA is the only way to qualify for federal and state financial aid, including  grants and work study. (Grant money does not have to be repaid!)
Who needs to fill out the FAFSA?
  • ·         The application asks for information from both students and parents, especially when it comes to finances. (EVERYONE!)
What do I need to fill out the FAFSA?
How do I fill out the FAFSA?
  • ·        It's easiest to fill out the application online at because using an online form will yield a more accurate and quicker result. However, paper copies can be requested by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID.
WHEN is the FAFSA due?
  • ·         It is available after Jan 1 and should be filed in January.  Schools have different priority deadlines so best advice is to get it done in January.  Estimate taxes and then file an addendum when taxes are filed.
What if my child is younger?
College Goal Oregon is a FREE event designed to help Oregon college-bound students and their families with the financial aid application process. Everyone is invited to attend this event, whether they are high school or non-traditional returning students. Financial aid professionals will be on hand to help attendees complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Oregon Student Access Commission (OSAC) scholarship application. For dates and locations, check

Finding Scholarships through OSAC:
  • Oregon Student Access Commission (OSAC) is a clearing house for many college scholarships for Oregon residents. 
  • Students can apply online at
  • There is an early bird drawing of $500 for applying before Feb 15.  Final deadline is March1.  This is for high school seniors as well as college students. 
  • Some of the scholarships are need based and some are merit, but all will require the FAFSA.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

It's January and my applications are done!

Yes!  You have made it!  And in some (many) cases, if you applied early, you have heard.  So what to do now?

It is true that scholarships are available year round and the unfortunate reality is most high school seniors are focused on the college applications in the fall and are burned out.
It is also true that most of the scholarship money awarded will come directly from the school or institution.

However, for Oregon students, now is the time to work on your OSAC scholarship application.  OSAC stands for Oregon Student Access Commission.  By completing the profile, you will be matched with scholarships available to Oregon students.

One thing to be aware of:  most of these scholarships will require the FAFSA even though they are merit based.

College Goal Oregon is a group dedicated to helping families complete the FAFSA correctly the first time and have workshops to help.  Check out their site:

Stay tuned for more information, one of my resolutions is to blog on a regular basis, all things college!