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Archive | January, 2011

Your Role In Getting Financial Aid (video)

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A Look Into The 2010-2011 Freshman Class

A Look Into The 2010-2011 Freshman Class

I always enjoy a well mastered infopicture and the good people at the University of California at Los Angeles Higher Education Institute have recently delivered this one. This statistical data was gathered from over 200,000 first year students attending 279 four year colleges. The information on the chart below paints a pretty good portrait of Who They Are, What They Think, and What They Hope To Achieve.  Since usually only touches upon the financial aspect of the college experience, we encourage you to check out the statistic below referencing household income figures for this years freshman class.  Enjoy!

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Princeton University Sets The Pace For Tuition Increases

Princeton University Sets The Pace For Tuition Increases

The Board of Directors and Board of Regents for many colleges and universities will convene over the next quarter to establish the tuition rates for their respective institutions for the coming year. While we would all prefer to experience tuition freezes, or even better yet, tuition decreases, the fact of the matter is that the majority of schools will be increasing tuition and fees for the next academic year.

Princeton University is the first school that I have seen come forward and announce what the impact on tuition will be for their incoming and returning students next year. And I must say that I am pleasantly surprised.

Princeton is going to increase tuition and room charges by 1% and meal plans will receive a 2% bump. So, an undergraduate that plans to live on campus next year can expect to pay a total of $49,069. ($37,000 for tuition, $6596 for the dorm room,  and $5473 for the meal plan) This is just the sticker price because we all know that Princeton is one of the top financial aid schools in the country.

Provost Christopher Eisgruber shared the following statement: “In a year when Princeton had done relatively well and many families continued to struggle, we felt it appropriate to hold down the increase to the fee package to levels consistent with the very low inflation rates experienced by the university.”

So the question that comes to mind for new and returning students across the nation, is Princeton’s approach on a minimal tuition increase going to be the litmus test for how other schools move forward with their individual rate adjustments in the coming year? In a world of double digit tuition increases, I guess time will tell but I personally remain optimistic! 😉

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Do You Have a Weird FAFSA Filing Situation?

Do You Have a Weird FAFSA Filing Situation?

This is the time of year when families across the nation are completing the FAFSA form. For some folks this is “old hat” because they have been filling out the form for years as their students move through the college experience, but for many this will mark the first time they get to experience the FAFSA form and all of the inherent confusion that sometimes follows.

During the past decade I have received a great number of questions related to the FAFSA. What I am always surprised by is how the questions evolve over time and how different everyone’s situation (and corresponding FAFSA question/answer) can be.

In an effort to provide some guidance and canned answers for the more unique FAFSA filing situations, the National Association of Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) recently distributed a document that covers some of the “weirder” cases.

This 5-page document provides tips and information related to:

  • Single Parents
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Benefits
  • Wards of the Court
  • Foster Care Situations
  • Deceased Parents
  • Emancipated Minor
  • Independent Student Status
  • Homeless Students

This FAFSA Tip Document is not all encompassing by any means but it does touch upon some of the more common uncommon scenarios that a student may encounter. I hope you find it helpful. If for some reason it does not answer your FAFSA questions, drop me a line and I will be glad to answer your question or get you pointed in the right direction.

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Financial Aid Basics (video)

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Ohio Farm Bureau Scholarship Opportunities

Ohio Farm Bureau Scholarship Opportunities

The Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation has three different scholarship programs (see below) that annually provide thousands of dollars to college bound Ohio students. Whether you are from a rural, suburban or urban community, you are encouraged to apply if you are planning to pursue a degree that is related to agriculture. The Ohio Farm Bureau describes agriculture as more than just farming they refer to the following professions as being part of the agricultural community: producers, scientists, researchers, educators, technicians, processors, distributors, marketers, policy makers and advocates

Darwin Bryan Scholarship Program
This fund was put into place back in 1985 to honor the 37 years of service, leadership, and inspiration that Mr. Bryan provided to the Ohio Farm Bureau. The scholarship fund was established to assist students who have been active in the Farm Bureau youth program and/or whose parents are Farm Bureau members.

Women’s Leadership in Agriculture Scholarship Program
This scholarship program was established in 2006 by a gracious donation from the Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Fund. The role of the fund is to ennoble, uplift and strengthen the lives of young women in agriculture.

Foundation Scholar Program
The Ohio Farm Bureau Board of Directors established this fund in 2008 at the urging of some of its donor members. The Foundation Scholar award recognizes students for academic effort, community service and career interests that use agriculture to enhance the partnership between producers and consumers in rural, suburban and/or urban settings

If you are interested in any of these scholarship opportunities, you can download an application online at, stop by your local county Farm Bureau office, or send a written request to: Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation, P.O. Box 182383, Columbus, OH 43218-2383

Application deadlines for all scholarship programs are March 1st.

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5 Reasons To Not Pay Your College Tuition With A Big Bag Of Cash

5 Reasons To Not Pay Your College Tuition With A Big Bag Of Cash

In the national news this last week, a young college man (Nic Ramos) attending the University of Colorado decided to pay his $14,000 tuition bill in cash (every parent and Bursar’s dream right?). The twist is that in an effort to bring to light the exorbitant cost associated with college, Mr. Ramos thought that he would pay his balance utilizing one dollar bills. You can check out the video coverage of this story below.

Nic’s story was an overnight rage as it flooded the Twitter and Facebook communities and it was only a matter of time before his event got picked up by national networks. I would say he was very successful in getting the message out about the rising cost of education. However,  that being said, I would like to offer the following reasons why you should NOT follow in his footsteps with paying your college tuition bill in cash (especially one dollar bills).

  • IRS Form 8300 – Did you know that anytime you perform a cash transaction with an organization or business and the sum of the transaction exceeds $10,000, the organization is required to complete and submit Form 8300 to the Internal Revenue Service? My guess is that this could potentially set off some red flags for your next tax filing season.
  • Did You Just Rob A Bank? – In the video coverage below, you will see that Mr. Ramos used a duffel bag to carry the cash to the Bursar’s office. This scenario of transporting cash reminds me of every bank heist movie created in the last three decades.
  • Lets Talk About Safety – Nic was transporting this cash to and from various banks, probably throughout his dorm or college housing, and finally across campus to the Bursar’s office. Certainly not a good idea to do this with that much cash since someone could have easily stripped him of it at any moment.
  • Time Wasted? – I am not as worried about Nic’s time associated with this venture since he actively chose to be part of the process. I am referring more to the bank tellers and the Bursar staff that had to count and proof all these one dollar bills by hand. A university representative said that it took three staff members at least an hour to count the money. If you take the Bursar staff time involved and double it to include the bank tellers’ time, that would put you at 6 hours involved with just counting money. Not sure of the hourly rate of these employees but you can see how quickly their time (and staff budget) would be gobbled up if more people started paying in this manner.
  • Have You Ever Tried To Lug Around 33 Pounds Of Dead Weight? – This is how much 14,000 one dollar bills weigh (or roughly 424 dollars for every pound). It may not compete with a P90X workout but I am sure it ranks pretty close.

I certainly want to give Nic Ramos his props for passively taking a stance on rising tuition costs. His unique approach to paying his tuition bill certainly garnered some attention and got people talking (and that is always good). However, I can’t help but wonder, since we live in a society of one-upmanship, if there is a person out there right now that is collecting every last quarter, nickel, dime and penny in sight to pay their next tuition bill with only coins! 😉

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The Sockingtons & Financial Aid Deadlines (video)

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