Plan For College

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Springtime is Full of Opportunities for High School Juniors

Your junior year in high school plays a crucial role in your college search. Possibilities are wide open during your junior hear. There are so many colleges to consider and there are still many opportunities for college scholarships.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

High School Juniors: Start Planning for College NOW!

If you are a high school junior and planning on going to college, it's time to get started. Here are five things to do now.
  1. Update your email address. Colleges will communicate with you by email and you want to be sure that your email address clearly identifies you and gives a good first impression. This email address should be professional and separate from your personal email address. (Don't use nicknames or names of your favorite sports teams.) Once you begin applying to colleges, make sure to check this email address often.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Best Times for College Tours

Think spring!  Although time is more plentiful in the summer for a high school student to plan college visits, it may not be the best time for college tours.  The summer is not a good representation of what your campus life will look like during the actual school year. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Divorced or Separated: Who Files the FAFSA?

We often get asked who should file the FAFSA when the parents are divorced or separated.

If a student’s parents are divorced or separated and not living together, only the custodial parent's income and assets are used for filing the FAFSA.

The custodial parent is the parent with whom the student lived with the most during the 12 months prior to filing the FAFSA. 

If the parents have joint custody, then count the days and nights. 

Another important factor to consider is cash support. Determine which parent spent the most money on support and expenses on the student’s behalf. This includes food, clothing, housing, car payments, medical care, dental care, and educational expenses.

If parents cannot agree upon who is the custodial parent, the college may decide for you!

Need help establishing who should file the FAFSA? Call (781-828-1114) or email College Planning Group ( for a free consultation.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Social Media Matters: Colleges Care What You Do Online

Students often wonder whether colleges look at their social media profiles. The truth is, sometimes colleges will go online to confirm that your resume accurately reflects who you are and what you do.

What they can see about you online depends in part on how open your social media settings are. Most students' accounts are fairly accessible, which makes it especially important that you be aware of what you are sharing with the world.

Post the good stuff -- awards, achievements, recognition, links to any newspaper articles.

Always think carefully before you post. You never know who is looking.

Not sure whether you should be sharing something? Wait. Ask someone you trust (preferably an adult) for their advice. When in doubt, keep it off the Internet. Because once it's out there, it becomes part of your permanent record.

Need help preparing for the college application process? Call (781-828-1114) or email College Planning Group ( for a free consultation.

Monday, February 8, 2016

New SAT or ACT: Why Both Could Be a Good Choice

As of March 2016, the SAT implements new changes to the format and scoring. The new SAT now has an optional essay and no penalty for wrong answers, and the math sections reflect real-world usage. Scoring will again be out of 1600 for combined math and reading.

With the new SAT format and scoring, we are getting a lot of questions about whether it makes sense for students to take the new SAT or take the ACT instead. There are often some concerns when a test changes formatting. It's not always clear ahead of time what role the new format will play in a student's performance. Our advice is to check with the colleges you are considering to see whether they prefer one test over the other. If they don't have a preference, you might consider taking both tests.

Still have questions? Give us a call and we can discuss what's best for your student.

Need help preparing for the college application process? Call (781-828-1114) or email College Planning Group ( for a free consultation.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Finding the Right School: There May Still Be Time

Even when students do everything right, sometimes finding the right school doesn’t happen quite according to the deadlines.

Maybe your student has visited or revisited schools and found that they aren’t the right fit after all. Or perhaps the acceptance letters haven’t been what was hoped for. Or maybe your student found their dream school after the application deadline had passed.

Depending on the school, there may still be time to apply. If you are an eligible candidate (your grades and SATs are within the target range) for the school in question, try completing the application online. If that's no longer available, contact the admissions department. 

Worst case scenario, they say no. But they can't say yes if you don't ask.

Need help finding the right college for you? Call (781-828-1114) or email College Planning Group ( for a free consultation.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Falsifying the FAFSA Carries Severe Penalties

Trying to manipulate or falsify financial information on financial aid applications is not only a bad idea, it's illegal and the odds of getting caught are very high.

Providing false or misleading information on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) carries fines up to $20,000 as well as a possibility of five years in prison. Providing a false name or Social Security number could get you into trouble. Lying about income or not reporting all income is a form of manipulation. 

Chances of getting caught are higher than you might think. Colleges can compare the figures submitted on the FAFSA with the IRS' figures. A red flag gets triggered if the amounts are not comparable. In the past, the U. S. Department of Education required 30% of all families who submitted FAFSA forms to also complete verification forms. Today, however, many colleges will verify more than 80% of submitted FAFSA forms and some colleges will verify 100%.  Misrepresenting or not reporting all of the family’s income normally will not work in getting additional financial aid and can result in reversal of an earlier decision.

Need help completing the FAFSA? Call (781-828-1114) or email College Planning Group ( for a free consultation.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

7 Tips for Parents of College-Bound Sophomores and Juniors

As college costs continue to rise, many families are left wondering how they will provide their children with an advanced education. Fortunately, with proper planning you will nail this process. There are several things you can do now to lower the cost of a higher education. 
  1. Plan ahead. Finding colleges, applying to those colleges and finding the money to attend college is a long term process. Hopefully by sophomore year your student will be excited about attending college. Let’s build on that enthusiasm.  Parents play an important role in this stage of their child’s college future. 
  2. Get involved in your student's interests. Keep track of their academic progress and involvement in clubs, extracurricular activities and volunteer opportunities. 
  3. Know your student's class rank and understand the importance of SAT performance.  All of these things will be considered by colleges for acceptance and scholarship opportunities. 
  4. Remember that outside scholarships are important.  Position your student to stand out in the application process.
  5. Do your homework. Start visiting colleges NOW during sophomore and junior year to help your child identify the types of schools that will be the best fit.
  6. Pay attention to requirements (GPA and courses taken in high school). Help your student make sure they are on track to be competitive at their college of choice.
  7. Look beyond the big name colleges and universities. Some smaller, less expensive colleges are “diamonds in the rough.” You will know them when you find them! 

So, parents, while your child is busy on their high school homework, it's time for you to get started on some of your own.

Not sure where to start? Call (781-828-1114) or email College Planning Group ( for a free consultation.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Six Things Parents of High School Seniors Need to Know NOW

College planning is essential at every step of the process.
If your student is a senior in high school then you need to read this NOW. 
  1. Look beyond the big name schools. Student often can receive just as good an education at a lesser name school for a much lower cost.
  2. Look beyond the published cost of the college. Consider the availability of scholarships and financial aid assistance. Be sure to consider transportation expenses -- staying closer to home may save you money.
  3. Look at colleges that offer a wide range of programs that interest your student. Transferring to a different school costs money and may increase the amount of time needed to finish.
  4. Choose wisely and look beyond the bottom line. Which school is the best fit for your student? Where is your student  most likely to be successful? Look at what percentage of students return after freshman year.
  5. Question the scholarships. Are scholarships one-time only or are they renewable for additional years? Pay attention to any requirements to maintain eligibility.
  6. Consider what percentage of students graduate from your student's choice school in four years. Additional years means additional money.
With proper planning this can be a fun process. Position your student to stand out and be successful in their college career. Financial aid is both need based and merit based. A strong application can make a big difference.

Feeling stuck? Ask a professioanl. Call (781-828-1114) or email College Planning Group ( for a free consultation. CPG can help identify schools to consider, and we know how to help your family get financial aid.