Information for the parents of college students
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Category — College Finances

Helping Your Student Manage Expenses in College

There’s an overwhelming amount information available to parents and students about the cost of college tuition, financial aid packages, and finding scholarships to help make college more affordable.  There’s no getting around the fact that college is expensive and that parents and students need to talk about the cost of college and how they plan to make that work.

But beyond the big picture, once your student is in college, the responsibility of managing the day-to-day expenses in college should shift to your student.  This might be a gradual process; it doesn’t need to happen all at once, but college is an excellent time to practice financial skills to prepare for the “real world” after graduation.

Talk to your student

One interesting finding in surveys of student finances may be surprising to many parents: students want to learn more about managing their money – and they want to learn it from their parents.

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January 23, 2017   No Comments

When a Little Something Can Make Graduation a Reality

College completion rates in the United States are not what they should be.  It is an important national conversation.  According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, the percentage of students who began college and completed a degree within six years is approximately 53%.  Just over half of those students who begin college finish – and that number is decreasing. It’s a growing problem and a growing national conversation.

Although we all need to be concerned about this number, and we all should part of that national conversation, if it is your student who can’t finish, knowing that there are many others also struggling isn’t much consolation. So although the big conversations and educational reforms are important, sometimes it is the small, personal actions that can make a difference.

More and more colleges and universities are recognizing that for many students, the barriers to completion- which may seem insurmountable at the time – are actually individual stumbling blocks that can be overcome with some help.  This is especially true for many first-generation and low-income students.  So schools are stepping in to help.

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October 3, 2016   No Comments

Don’t Let Your College Student Become a Target

Con artists have been around forever.  Scams have caught unwary victims before, and they will again. But it seems that one of the newest targets for these unsavory characters is college students, and often their parents as well.  Make sure you stay alert and talk to your student about being careful as well.

College students may be prime targets of scammers for several reasons.  They are busy and distracted, many don’t have much financial or tax experience, most don’t have extensive credit histories yet and/or don’t check them, and they spend much of their lives online.

What’s the latest threat?

According to the Internal Revenue Service, one of the most recent scams involves students receiving a phone call from someone impersonating an IRS official and demanding payment of a “federal student tax.”  The IRS wants to make it clear that there is no such tax.  But the caller claims that the student owes the tax and that he will call the local police to arrest the student if it is not paid.  If the student hangs up, there may be follow-up calls. Often, the caller has just enough information about the student, gleaned from public sources such as directory information, to make the call sound more legitimate.

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September 26, 2016   2 Comments

College Parent News and Views

The more that college parents know and understand about the college experience, the less we worry and the better we will be able to help our students to succeed and thrive throughout their college career.  However, there is an overwhelming amount of information out there on the web.   We’d like to help you find some of the information that might be most interesting and useful to you as a college parent.

In News and Views we share recent college related news and sources we’ve found as we do our research.  We hope that this feature will help to introduce you to new ideas and to help you keep up with some of the current issues that may affect your college student – and you.

We invite you to read some of the articles suggested below – and to let us know what you think of some of the ideas included here.

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July 30, 2016   No Comments

Does Your Student Qualify for a Free Visit to College?

The words “free” and “college” don’t often appear in the same sentence, but this time they just might.  Many families don’t realize that a number of colleges may offer financial help to students to make an admission visit possible.  Not all colleges offer the option and not all students will qualify, but the option is worth investigating.

Each college that offers a visit reimbursement program or option handles it differently and may give it a different name, but typical programs may be referred to as fly-in programs, travel grants, travel scholarships, or funded campus visits.  Colleges most likely, but not exclusively, to offer such programs may be more selective liberal arts colleges, although some research universities (such as Dartmouth or Yale) offer programs for students interested in particular majors.  They have names that include descriptions such as Fly-in Weekend, Diversity Overnight Program, Weekend Immersion, Diversity Achievement Program, or include words such as Access, Discover and Explore.

Who is eligible?

Fly-in programs and travel grants are available largely to high school seniors who would find the cost of a visit prohibitive and to students who are underrepresented on the campus such as first generation students, students of diverse backgrounds, minority students and/or low income students.

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February 8, 2016   No Comments

It’s Time to Love Your Second Choice College

As a parent, you want your child to be happy.  It began when they were infants, and it hasn’t changed.  And for some students about to head to college, happiness may mean learning to love their second choice college.  They may need your help understanding how to do that

The facts are there.  According to a recent study conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, fewer than 57% of students in the United States are attending their first choice college.  That means that your student may wind up attending her second (or third or fourth) choice of college.  It is interesting to note, however, that over 75% of students were admitted to their first choice of school.  This means that your student (or you as a family) may make the choice to attend a school other than your student’s initial first choice.

Some research is also suggesting, however, that where your student attends school is going to matter less than her attitude and her actions once she gets there.

What can I do to help my student make the adjustment?

The first thing that you can do is to honor your student’s disappointment.

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January 26, 2015   No Comments

Does Your College Student Need Textbooks?

The question of whether or not your student needs textbooks in college is not as simple as it seems.  The simple answer is “Yes, of course.”  The more complex answer may be, “It depends.”

The cost of college textbooks is high. No one would argue that. The cost of producing most textbooks is high, most textbooks are required so students do not have choices, and the costs are passed along to the students.  One study conducted by the College Board has estimated that most students should expect to pay approximately $1200 annually on textbooks.  Many students, and their parents, have not calculated the cost of textbooks into their college costs.  So students are taken by surprise, and may feel that this is an additional, and therefore optional cost.

Because of the high cost of textbooks, many students are opting out of buying books.  The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) found that approximately 30% of seniors and 25% of First Year students said that they did not purchase books. The Student Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), in a non-scientific survey of 1,905 students at 13 colleges found that 70% of students said they opted out of books for at least one course.  However, 78% of those students believed that they would not do as well in that course without the book.

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April 3, 2014   2 Comments

College Parents: Be Prepared for Some Extra College Costs

You know that the cost of college tuition is high.  Perhaps you have been preparing for years to be able to help finance your student’s education.  As your student progressed through the admissions process, you may have discovered some additional costs that you hadn’t anticipated: application fees, SAT prep courses, and the costs of visiting numerous campuses to find just the right one.

Now that your student has been accepted and is about to head off to school, you’ve received your first tuition bill.  The bottom line on the statement may have shocked you, but at least, you thought, you knew what was ahead.  However, there are often additional costs that may take parents and students by surprise.

Most parents and students know that there will be some initial costs as they prepare for that first year of college.  There will be dorm furnishings, and perhaps additional funds for food and gas (if your student is taking a car to school), clothing and supplies throughout the year. However, there may be some unexpected or hidden costs.  These will vary by school, of course, but here are a few to think about and possibly anticipate.

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June 24, 2013   No Comments

How to Make Sure Your Financial Support Helps Your College Student

There is a new study being released in the American Sociological Review in February 2013 that has already received a lot of press, and may be causing college parents concern.  The report, by University of California – Merced sociology professor Laura T. Hamilton is titled, More is More or More is Less?  Parental Financial Investments During College.

The headlines in most of the articles about this report claim that the more that parents contribute financially to their student’s college education, the worse their student will do in school as measured by cumulative GPA (grade point average).  Our concern is that some college parents may not have the opportunity to read beyond the headlines to Dr. Hamilton’s secondary finding and conclusion.  This study also determined that students whose parents contribute to their education had a greater chance of completing college within five years.  And the researcher’s conclusion is that student success may have less to do with the amount of the financial contribution and more to do with the communication between students and parents about responsibilities and expectations.

According to Hamilton, the negative effect of parental financial support on college GPA is modest, but students “may be staying out of trouble but dialing down academic efforts.”  In other words, students whose parents are paying for the majority of their expenses may not feel as vested in their education and may be willing to “get by.”  She adds, “Children may direct more effort to school when they personally feel the economic costs of poor performance.”  These findings seem surprising to many parents because they seem to counter the assumption that the more that parents do for their students, the better those students will do.  Other sources of funding – grants, scholarships, or work-study – did not appear to affect GPA.

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January 21, 2013   No Comments

What is a “Satisfactory Academic Progress” Policy for Financial Aid?

A term that many students and parents may be hearing  recently is “Satisfactory Academic Progress” or SAP.  SAP pertains to financial aid eligibility and recent discussions of the policy are a result of new federal regulations incorporated into the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, which require students to be making Satisfactory Academic Progress in order to continue to receive federal financial aid.  This federal aid includes all Direct Student Loans, Pell Grants, Federal Work Study, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Perkins Loans and Parent PLUS Loans.

The purpose of the changes to this regulation is essentially to prevent students from indefinitely continuing to receive federal aid and to ensure program integrity.  The primary change is a no tolerance policy which no longer allows for an automatic warning period with continuation of aid.  In other words, at many institutions in the past, students who failed to meet SAP policy standards were granted an automatic grace period during which time they could work towards returning to good standing while still receiving aid.  New regulations require that students who fail to make Satisfactory Academic Progress automatically lose their aid immediately. [Read more →]

December 8, 2012   No Comments