|[January 17, 2013]
Navigating the College Financial Aid Process: Tips from Kaplan Test Prep
NEW YORK --(Business Wire)--
For two million-plus college applicants and millions of current college
students, how to afford tuition is always top-of-mind, particularly in
an economy where many household incomes have remained stagnant.
Competition for much-coveted financial aid remains as fierce as the
admissions process itself. Below are three key tips in the race for
money - which unofficially kicked off January 1 with the opening of
FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) - with advice on how to
successfully navigate the financial aid frenzy:
Tip #1: Apply for FAFSA, and apply early. Many students
neglect to apply for FAFSA money because they assume their parents
earn too much. Wrong approach. Billions of dollars from FAFSA - which
includes everything from Pell Grants, to work-study opportunities, to
Federal Stafford Loans, and more - are awarded to millions of students
of all economic backgrounds. While it is needs-based and lower income
students may benefit the most, students from varying financial
situations can receive aid. FAFSA can be completed online at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov.
Submitting a FAFSA doesn't guarantee that you'll get college financial
aid, but not submitting one guarantees you won't. You have nothing to
lose and the potential to gain. And since FAFSA is a first come, first
serve source, the sooner you apply, the better.
Tip #2: Treat the hunt for scholarship money like a part-time job. Many
students miss out on scholarship opportunities because they simply
don't apply or invest enough quality time looking for available money.
You don't necessarily have to be a 4.0 student or have achieved a
perfect 2400 on the SAT or 36 on the ACT - though that certainly
helps! College and scholarship help site Cappex.com estimates that
there is $11 billion in merit aid from colleges. And according to the
National Association for College Admission Counseling, students'
scores on the SAT and ACT are leading factors in securing merit aid.
There are also thousands of niche scholarships available for those who
aren't necessaily at the head of the class: left-handed students;
individuals with the surname Gatlin; women who are over 5'10"; anybody
under 4'10"; and duck callers - they all go to college too! Visit your
school's guidance office and sites like www.finaid.com
to see what's out there. You can even start banking scholarship money
as early as freshman year. The more money you have by the time
acceptance letters come, the more options you'll have since your
ability to pay will be less of an issue.
Tip #3: Don't view a financial aid offer as a final offer.
If your dream school offers you a financial aid package but it's not
enough, negotiate. Unlike FAFSA offers, which are non-negotiable,
financial aid packages awarded directly by colleges can be considered
first offers, not final offers. Since they've already accepted you,
they more than likely will work with you. Respectfully tell the
college why you are a "must have" student or how your family's
financial situation may have changed to warrant more aid. The worst
they can say is no.
"You cannot think about college today without thinking about how to pay
for it. With college tuition continuing to rise, it's more important
than ever for students and their parents to be savvy consumers and act
strategically to increase their chances of securing strong financial aid
packages," said Jieun Choe, executive director of college admissions and
K-12 programs, Kaplan Test Prep. "While many students may find it
necessary to take out loans to pay for college, it's always preferable
to secure scholarships instead, which unlike loans, do not have to be
paid back. It will be enormously more beneficial for students to
graduate college owing as little money as possible, especially when
loans carrying interest add to the full cost of tuition."
Facts about college costs:
In 2012-13, average published tuition and fees for public four-year
colleges and universities for in-state students is $8,655 - up from
$8,256 in 2011-2012. For full-time out-of-state students, the cost is
$21,706, up from $20,823 the previous academic year.
At private, nonprofit four-year colleges and universities, average
published tuition and fees for 2012-2013 stand at $29,056, up from
$27,883 the previous academic year.
For the current academic year, full-time undergraduates at public
four-year institutions receive an estimated average of $5,750 in
financial aid. At private, nonprofit institutions, the average is
For more information or to arrange an interview on the college financial
aid process, please contact Russell Schaffer at: 212.453.7538 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students and their parents can find additional information and
strategies on the college financial aid process at: http://www.kaptest.com/College/Home/college-admissions-zone-financial-aid.html
About Kaplan Test Prep
Kaplan Test Prep (www.kaptest.com)
is a premier provider of educational and career services for
individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938, Kaplan is the
world leader in the test prep industry. With a comprehensive menu of
online offerings as well as a complete array of print books and digital
products, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 90 standardized tests,
including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate
school, as well as professional licensing exams for attorneys,
physicians and nurses. Kaplan also provides private tutoring and
graduate admissions consulting services.
Note to editors: Kaplan is a subsidiary of The Washington Post
Company (NYSE: WPO)
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