"I've got a full ride" and other urban myths

Students say the most amazing things.  They say them to us, but the most amazing they reserve for each other.  Among them is, "I'm going to the University of Havagreatime on a full ride."  Also popular is, "I'm going to get a lot of scholarships instead of student loans."  A common delusion suffered by parents is, "We're planning on scholarships to help us pay for college."
  • "On a full ride" -- remember high school?  It is a professional sport in high school to "one-up" your peers; to put down your rival; to stretch the truth while talking about yourself.  Yes, there are non-athletic, full rides.  There are also people who win the Mega-Zillion-Jackpot lottery.  I do not know any of those people, but I read about them in the news.  In SWIC's five-year history we've had one student go on a merit-based 100% scholarship.  She was valedictorian at a private high school.  And, by the way, we know of another valedictorian from a different but equally prestigious high school who is attending a well-known university with $0.00 (zero) in financial aid awards. 
  • "Lots of scholarships" -- according to the U.S. Department of Education only about 1% (one percent) of all educational dollars comes from private scholarships.  Many of those are linked to very specific qualifications.  For example, in my Sunday, Sep 27, hometown newspaper there was an article about a local student who received a very generous scholarship which he qualified for as an employee of Autobell Car Wash, Inc.  Many scholarships, if not most, are attached to very specific criteria.  It is worthwhile to check, and apply for all you qualify for.  Furthermore, many scholarships are "one offs," meaning you are awarded them once and that is all.  It is important to let your financial aid office know that fact.  
  • "Pay for college" -- Money for college comes predominantly from parents' check books, from student and parent loans, from a university's own resources (endowment, and tuition discounts) and from work-study earnings.  We advise parents to be prepared to pay one hundred percent of the cost of attendance, minus any student loans their child undertakes.  Any outcome better than that is a plus!  At SWIC we help families do better than that, nearly all of the time.  However, there is more art than science in the achievement.  Furthermore, if you will scroll down to previous blogs, you will understand that it is anything but automatic.
 

Posted in College Planning, College Planning Strategies.

The Four Year Experience or a Diploma Leading to a Career?

Let's wrap up the conversation we started last week (http://www.succeedwhereitcounts.com/blog/ "The Four Year Experience at only $100,000 Each").  Students commonly give us some push back on the task of college selection. The student often has one university in focus; maybe two at the most. There is economic value in expanding those horizons.  

That is where mom and dad come into the action. The cost of a college education, at the end of the day, is a family decision. We [http://www.succeedwhereitcounts.com] can produce choices. Which choice is made, however, is entirely yours.

We have had families turn down a full scholarship (90% or better cost-of-attendance covered) and choose something more expensive, but closer to home. One family turned their collective noses up at a 50% scholarship (a potential savings of more than $120,000), because they had one particular college in mind and did not care what it cost. There are other, less dramatic examples, but the point is there is more to college selection than price.

Value is an intangible that not only will be considered by consumers, but should be considered. Value matters. Value is why SWIC does more than coach students in the intensive work of college choice. We also coach and advise parents on cash flow solutions. It is not uncommon for families to choose from the middle of the cost pack among the choices available. At SWIC we are actually very good at finding wealth transfers -- money people are currently transferring away unknowingly and unnecessarily -- and recouping those dollars to be applied to the out-of-pocket costs of a college education.

Regardless of what your final choice may be, our unwavering counsel is to choose a college or university with a degree program that will open a door to a personally satisfying and economically remunerative career for your student.

Posted in College Planning, College Planning Strategies.

The Four-Year Experience at only $100,000 each!

Students are buzzing about "the four year experience."  The fact that the phrase is repeated verbatim by our students indicates to me that it is the buzz around high school hallways; maybe even in the classrooms.  My question to we parents is, "How much do we want to spend to give our students an "experience"? 
Here's a quick run-down: 
  • Even at the better colleges, only about 6 out of 10 students graduate in 4 years.  There are some notable exceptions, but no college I know of reports better than about 90% 4-year graduation rate
  • At $20,000 per year cost of attendance (N.C. residents, in-state rates), and a good chance of the "four year experience" taking 5 years (or longer), $100,000 is reality. [more info
  • Cost of Attendance = tuition, fees, room and board, books and miscellaneous expenses. Between our students and ourselves all of that will be borne as some combination of cash outlay and education loans.  If a student gets some merit grant-in-aid (scholarships) to reduce the sticker price, good for them, and for us.  But . . .
  • Remember, in nearly every case scholarships (merit grants-in-aid) are based on four years, are dependent on maintaining an eligibility GPA, and may be lost if a student encounters any disciplinary issues.  In addition, if the grant-in-aid is tied to a particular degree program, a change of majors may result in the loss of some or all of the scholarship
Come back next week to read my concluding words [http://www.succeedwhereitcounts.com/blog], answering the "So what shall we do?" Question.
 

Posted in College Planning, College Planning Strategies.

Tim Tebow, the NFL and Your High School Student

Being the best in the nation is sometimes not good enough.  Consider Tim Tebow [visit website] and the NFL.
Read full story.

One lesson to learn may apply mainly to college athletes and a professional sports career. Another lesson, more widely applilcable, relates to the first question we ask our high school students, "What are you going to do the Monday morning after you graduate from college?" [http://www.succeedwhereitcounts.com]  Put another way, focus on the 40, not the 4 -- the forty years of a working career after college, and not just the four, delightful years of college. 

College is wonderful, and a good choice for many high school students.
  College is also an artificially created and sustained community bearing very little resemblance to "the real world."  Just ask Tim! [view story]  

Tim was best in the nation as a college football player, a Heisman Trophy winner.  He competed for two national championships, winning one.  Everything he did in college was with an eye to playing professional football.  Sadly for Tim, he simply did not have the skill set to achieve his goal.  If only, while a scholastic athlete, someone had evaluated more thoroughly his skills and potential, he may have avoided the deep disappointments of the past several years.
 
Too few high school students move into their college dorm with a clear plan for the day after college ends.  Published graduation rates (barely half graduate within 6 years https://nces.ed.gov/-fastfacts/display.asp?id=40) -- and student loan default rates [view stats] approaching 23% lend underscore the reality [read more].
 
At Succeed Where It Counts, LLC [www.succeedwhereitcounts.com] we provide each student with a formal career assessment profile.  We use the Birkman profile, and are happy with it. [http://www.leaprogram.com] 

College?  Know the end-game before the kick-off.
 

Posted in College Planning, College Planning Strategies.