Early applications have benefits and drawbacks.
Students entering their Senior year are able to start completing the 2015-16 Common Application and University of California system officially opened August 1. There are more than 500 schools that accept the Common Application for Admissions. This marks the official beginning of the ‘College Application Season’ for the Class of 2016.
I often say int the world of college admissions, the early bird catches the most worms. When it comes to your student’s Admissions options, parents need to look at their savings options as well. Starting the entire process is the one thing I try to drill into students and parents heads. Many schools have rolling and/or priority deadlines for admission AND for merit scholarship consideration: Indiana, Tulane, Gettysburg, Michigan, Wake, UNF, FSU to name a few. In fact, some schools will be doing their first reviews as we speak.
Many schools provide early scholarships to students who impress on a first-come, first-served basis.
The process is similar for parents as well. There is a real significant) difference between what a college costs (on paper) and what percentage of that cost you will actually have to pay. It is possible that the pricey private school that you’re ruling out might be the same or less than the public university you’re insisting stay on the list. Colleges have two main instruments when it comes to their discounting strategies: 1) need-based Aid and 2) merit-based (or non-need based) Aid. Schools utilize both tools to induce students to attend their institution.
The reality is that 2/3 of first-time, full-time undergraduates will receive some type of grant (that’s free money) in the form of a ‘discount’ when they matriculate. Financial aid and merit based on GPA, SAT/ACT scores and community service and talent) are available to middle class families, but the rules are complicated and most families leave thousands on the table because they don’t understand the inner working of those rules.
Don’t leave thousands on the table. Do the work and plan your financial aid strategy before applying.
For most families, regardless of income, there are many strategies that can reduce the amount of money that you will be expected to pay for college. But if you are the parent of a Senior, that window is closing. If you want to avoid frustration in the spring, you need to take control of the Admissions process before your student finalizes their applications. Understanding how the colleges on your child’s wish list administers financial aid and merit scholarships is critical and will endure. You need to have a clear picture how much your family can afford to pay for your kid’s education.
Starting early gives you a huge advantage!
As for parents with younger high school children, I highly recommend that your college funding strategy be in place as early as middle school. Parents who are proactive and commit to preparing a college funding plan will bring peace of mind. The gold at the end of the road will become clearer and clearer as your child progresses through high school and enters college.