Plan For College

Monday, October 8, 2018

FAFSA Checklist: What You Need to Fill Out the FAFSA Form

The College Planning Group Blog Post   Oct 2018


If you need financial aid to help you pay for college, you must complete 
the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. 
We recommend that you start early to avoid any issues and get the 
most Federal Aid available to you.

The FAFSA form for school year 2019-2020 is available October 1, 2018. 
It is available on the official government site www.fafsa.gov

Errors may cost you money so be careful and diligent when filling out 
college financial aid forms. 


NOTE: If you choose to do it yourself, here is what you will need:

1. FSA ID and password.
An FSA ID is a username and password that will be used to log into certain 
U.S. Department of Education (ED) websites. Each student, and one parent 
of each dependent student, will need an FSA ID to complete the form.
In some situations, there may be a three-day lag time once your FSA ID is 
created.  Avoid delay by creating your FSA ID and password as soon as 
possible. 

2. Social Security number
This number is on your Social Security card.  When filling out the FAFSA 
enter your name exactly as if appears on your Social Security card. If you 
are not a U.S. citizen, but meet Federal Student Aid basic eligibility 
requirements, you will need your Alien Registration number.

3. 2017 tax records
Parents and students are required to report income information submitted 
on the 2017 federal income tax form. This rule is referred to as prior prior. 
You may submit your completed FAFSA using the link referred to as the 
IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT). It will safely move your tax data onto the
FAFSA form. 

4. Records of your untaxed income
The FAFSA will ask questions about untaxed income that may pertain 
to your financial situation. Be sure to include correct dollar amounts 
regarding child support, interest income, and veteran noneducation 
benefits.

5. Record of your assets
This is where mistakes are made. Entering the wrong information may 
disqualify you for Federal Aid. Be careful to properly state your financial 
situation. Overstating or understating financial holdings may cost you 
money.

6. List of the school(s) you are interested in attending
You can list up to 10 schools at a time on your FAFSA form. If you’re 
applying to more than 10 schools, your college planning professional can 
help. To be considered for state aid, several states require you to list schools
in a particular order (for instance, you might need to list a state school first).  
Find out whether your state has a requirement for the order in which you 
list schools on your FAFSA form.

7. Review all details with an expert
Entering incorrect information may hinder your Federal Aid eligibility 
package.

Hope this helps!


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The College Planning Group
Canton MA     800-985-8569

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Get packing for college!

Get packing for college!

Shop ‘til you drop or pack just the essentials, it’s all in how you look at it!

Needed school supplies:
Laptop, notebook, backpack, pens/pencils

Bedding:
Most dorm beds are extra-long twin size.
You will need 2 sets of extra-long sheet sets, (top sheet, fitted sheet, pillow case),
mattress pad, pillow, blanket, comforter

Toiletries:
Soap, shampoo, wash cloth, hand towel, bath towel, hair dryer, flip flops, bath caddy

Laundry products:
Laundry bag or basket, detergent

Clothing – dress in layers:
PJ’s or t-shirts and gym shorts (nighty night), t-shirts, jeans, sweats, socks, sneakers, hoodie, jacket, warm outerwear (depending upon the climate)

More stuff:
Extra alarm clock, power strips, aspirin/Ibuprofen, a little first aid kit (ouch)
white noise (if that is your thing – find the free app on your cell phone)

Fun stuff:
Posters, favorite pictures, music (it’s probably already on your phone)

That should do it. Get packing and for Pete’s sake don’t forget to call home!  Your cell phone is most likely right in your hand.


Hope this helps!

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The College Planning Group
Canton MA     800-985-8569

Friday, July 20, 2018

Some College ABC's

Here are a few things to teach your kids before you send them off to college.


Below is a little checklist that may be helpful to your student and will give mom and dad peace of mind.

1.  They should know how to ask for what they want.  Teaching them to self-advocate is very important.  Remember mom and dad are not going to be at college.

2.  They should know how to travel alone.  Boarding a plane may be easy but your student should know how to handle a flight delay or a canceled flight.  

3.  If your student owns a car be sure she knows how to change a flat tire or call for roadside assistance.

4.  Be sure your kiddo can do a load of laundry.  Include buying detergent, turning on the washing machine and dryer and folding clothes.

5.  If your child does not have a meal plan at college check out some easy recipes and practice making a meal together.

6.  Teach your student the basics of using a credit/debit card.

7.  Teach your kiddo not to give up!  College life may be challenging but no one said it would be easy.

Enjoy the ride!



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The College Planning Group
Canton MA     800-985-8569

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Start Planning Early With a College Resume

Start college planning early.  One of the best ways to do this is by creating a resume.

A student resume is a summary of all your accomplishments.  Keep a diary/resume as soon as freshman year and build on.  Everything counts and a resume is a great way to showcase yourself.  It is okay to brag!

  • List school projects, outside of school projects and hobbies. 
  • Don’t forget extracurriculars such as robotics, debate team, chorus, band, etc.
  • List your jobs such as baby sitting, house sitting, dog walking.  No job is too small and colleges want to see how hard you have worked. 
  • Colleges want well rounded students.  Church groups, scouting and civic group involvement help show schools that you are responsible.
  • Of course, colleges love sports.  List all of them that you participate in, especially if you hold a position of leadership on the team. 
  • Self-awareness, self-confidence and personal initiative are all qualities that deserve bragging rights.  Don’t be shy.       


If you are not sure about the best format for your resume, contact us.  We will send you the format we recommend.

Once you have a resume draft continue to build on it.  Updates will be easy to add once the base of the resume is in place. 

When your resume is complete make several copies, and feel free to hand them out.  College admissions officers love resumes, it takes the sting out of the college interview and brings the focus back to you.

Hope this helps!

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The College Planning Group
Canton MA     800-985-8569

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Larger Colleges vs Smaller Colleges: Myth vs Reality


The College Planning Group Blog Post   Apr 2018

Larger Colleges vs Smaller Colleges: Myth vs Reality
There are many questions surrounding the benefits of attending a large university as opposed to attending a smaller college. Larger schools do not necessarily mean a student will receive a better degree.  Ivy League College graduates do not necessarily have better careers. 
As far as staff, many smaller colleges have exceptionally qualified professors and richly established classes.  Also, smaller colleges do offer some students generous financial aid packages.
Why consider a Small college:
  • Smaller campuses mean you are part of a smaller, tighter-knit community.
  • Smaller colleges and universities offer “boutique majors” that may only attract a few dozen students a year…this means your unique niche major may only be offered at a small school.
  • Many smaller colleges allow you to take classes at nearby larger schools.


You may get a great financial aid package at a smaller college. Smaller colleges wish to attract students too. Don’t underestimate endowments made to smaller colleges made by graduates that absolutely loved their school and wish to give back.  
We recommend you look at a few smaller colleges. They may be a better fit.
Hope this helps!

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The College Planning Group
Canton MA     800-985-8569



Thursday, May 3, 2018

Tips for Sophomores and Juniors: Planning College Tours



The College Planning Group Blog Post Apr 2018

Tips for High School Sophomores: Juniors: Planning College Tours

The summer is coming sooner than you may think, which means that
sophomore and junior year high school students should start planning
their summer college visits now. Visiting colleges early can be fun and
adventurous and will help to reduce some of the stress that comes with
college planning.


Start Early

Visit local campuses now with your family. Enjoy beautiful campuses
near you during the nice weather. Stroll along the walks, check out the
quad, poke around the dining area and talk to students. Without
pressure your mind will be open, be sure to ask questions and learn all
you can about college life. Take notes and have a good time.


Time to Get Serious

Once you have your college list and have a better understanding of
college life you should be ready to plan your road trip. Don’t forget to
schedule college tours ahead of time. If you plan to visit out of state
colleges consider the demographics. Map out a few colleges to see on
the way to your dream school and if you have time visit one or two
colleges on your way back home.


Make the College Tour Count

Talk to senior students on campus, voice your concerns and get their
views on college life. Explore academic departments, ask about class
size and whether the class is taught by a full professor, assistant
professor, associate professor, adjunct professor or research associate.
Visit the dining hall and student center. Ask about campus safety and
security policies. Get financial aid information. 

Drive around the surrounding area to get a feel for the neighborhood, stores, restaurants
and parks. Pretend you live there. Make sure the school fits you and
that you will feel happy in the college community for four years.

Get started today and you will be happy you did!

Hope This Helps!

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The College Planning Group
Canton MA     800-985- 8569

   http://blog.thecollegeplanninggroup.com 
        http://thecollegeplanninggroup.com
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Monday, March 5, 2018

Sophomore College Planning Tips: What you can do now


The College Planning Group Blog Post   March 2018

Sophomore College Planning Tips: What you can do now

There are many things that high school sophomores can do now to prepare for college and university. Simple steps such as evaluating your courses, activities, and summer plans can set you on the right path.

Choosing Courses
Colleges look carefully at your high school transcript. They want to see students that take challenging courses in their areas of interest.
If you’re interested in STEM, plan to take whatever science and math classes available to you, including honors, AP, and IB courses. This is the time to make sure you’re on the right academic track.

Exploring Your Interests
Sophomore year is the time to get serious about focusing and developing your interests. Zone in on classes, clubs, and activities that are related to what you want to learn about.

Activities
Quality is valued over quantity when it comes to extracurricular activities.  Colleges like to see students involved in what they are passionate about.  Zone in on what you like and not on what your friends are doing.

Summer Experience
Make summer count.  Research summer jobs and internship programs that match your interests. Set yourself up for junior year. Make planning fun!

Hope this helps!


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The College Planning Group
Canton MA     800-985-8569





Thursday, February 8, 2018

NEW POST: Financial Aid Award Letters

How to Read Financial Aid Award Letters


Congratulations! You received financial aid letters from colleges.  You worked hard to get this money, but do you know what all the dollar signs mean?


After you submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you’ll receive an award letter in the mail from each school you have been accepted to. Your letters will outline how much the school will cost and what kind of financial aid package you will receive. 

>> BUT Not all financial aid award letters look the same.


Below are some points to consider:
  • There are big differences between a federal loan, school aid, gift aid, scholarship, award and grant money.
  • Are you sure you understand what money you must pay back?
  • You do not have to accept all the financial aid from your award letter. 


We recommend that you first consider accepting gift money such as scholarships and grants that you do not have to pay back.  Also, earned money (work-study) is always good and does not have to be paid back.  Lastly, consider borrowed money (federal student loans) that you do have to repay.


Once you decide which financial aid package you wish to accept, you will need to respond within the deadline set by the school. If you wait, another student gets that money!


College Planning Group reads hundreds of award letters each year and will help you decide what is right for you.

Hope this helps!


The College Planning Group
Canton MA     800-985-8569

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Financial Aid Schedule: Oct 1 Opens "FAFSA Season"!


Saturday Oct 1, 2017 marked the opening of the 2017 - 2018 "FAFSA Season"
For those unfamiliar with it, FAFSA stands for "Free Application for Federal Student Aid" and it’s a government form that give you access to $Millions of Federal money for college…Hundreds of $Millions have been awarded in the last few years alone!

You can find the deadline schedule for the federal applications here: https://www.fafsa.ed.gov/deadlines.htm  As far as each school's deadlines, check with your college directly.

Now that the opening date has passed, you should be working on in now…(Or have a College Advisor working on it!) NOTE: If you are late or wait too long, the money may be gone until next year!

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>> Here are some tips and links:

> Federal FAFSA Deadlines: You can file a FAFSA for the 2017-2018 school year NOW so do it quickly to maximize your chance of federal monies. The latest they will accept applications is (not recommended!) June 30, 2018 and any corrections or updates must be submitted by September 15, 2018. See https://fafsa.ed.gov/

> State Aid Deadlines: As far as MA students pls visit the website for the Office of Student Financial Assistance at the  Massachusetts Department of Education  www.osfa.mass.edu. This is the official website of the Massachusetts Department of Higher Ed. For RI, CT, see your local state websites.

> If you have large assets or cash accounts or liquid investments that you think would disqualify you, Do Not Assume you should list them…not all assets need to be listed! The FAFSA is not an department of the IRS so be careful in detailing your financial picture.

> Some help can be found here:
          https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/ 
              https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/types



As always, consider using a College Planner who has filled out hundreds of FAFSA forms (and is likely filling out dozens for students right now!) Make sure they know all the tricks for getting you the most Financial Aid…

Many "weekend experts" just fill it out assuming old rules and statutes without learning the new laws and requirements, and, as a result, do not maximize your Financial Aid.

Hope this helps!

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The College Planning Group
Canton MA     800-985-8569






Saturday, September 2, 2017

Financial Aid Schedule: Deadlines Approaching!

The College Planning Group Blog Post 

Financial Aid Schedule: Deadlines Approaching!

What is FAFSA? "Free Application for Federal Student Aid"
If it's Free, it must be simple, right? No…it is a 14-page form that requires a lot of data and information and, if it is incorrect, you may get Less Federal Financial Aid!

When is it due? Soon! You should be working on in now…(Or have a College Advisor working on it!) If you are late or wait too long, the pile of money will be gone…

What mistakes do most people make? They make all kinds of mistakes but the most common is waiting too long! If you are off on your income or assets, these could affect your aid package…But if you wait even a month longer than most, you may have the perfect FAFSA but miss out anyway!

>> Here are some tips and links:

> Federal FAFSA Deadlines: You can file a FAFSA for the 2017-2018 school year as early as October 1, 2016 so do it quickly to maximize your chance of federal monies. The latest they will accept applications is (not recommended!) June 30, 2018 and any corrections or updates must be submitted by September 15, 2018. See https://fafsa.ed.gov/
> State Aid Deadlines: As far as MA students pls visit the website for the Office of Student Financial Assistance at the  Massachusetts Department of Education  www.osfa.mass.edu. This is the official website of the Massachusetts Department of Higher Ed. For RI, CT, see your local state websites.

> You will need various tax forms and historical tax data. You may be able to use 2015 or 2016 tax returns depending on your situation. The College Planning Group are not tax advisors but we know exactly how to navigate the FAFSA and get it right the first time…NOTE: any mistakes will lower your chance of financial aid!

> You can always edit your data on the FAFSA website but do it before you commit the data. You can edit income, assets, debts, addresses, etc etc at any time but once you commit that is it.

> If you have large assets or cash accounts or liquid investments that you think would disqualify you, Do Not Assume you should list them…not all assets need to be listed! The FAFSA is not an department of the IRS so be careful in detailing your financial picture.

> If you are separated or divorced and have sole-custody or joint-custody, these need to be handled very carefully: Do Not Assume that, if you have 100% custody of a child, that you alone should fill out the FAFSA…an ex-spouse may be included in your financial picture in many cases to show increased need.

As always, consider using a College Planner who has filled out hundreds of FAFSA forms (and is likely filling out dozens for students right now!) Make sure they know all the tricks for getting you the most Financial Aid…Many "experts" just fill it out assuming old rules and statutes without learning the new laws and requirements, and, as a result, do not maximize your Financial Aid.

Hope this helps!

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The College Planning Group
Canton MA     800-985-8569