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Hiding Between the Lines in the Award Letter

award letter

It’s financial aid award season. Students and parents have either received or will soon receive the award from the colleges that offered admission. How will this aid factor in to your student’s final decision?

But lurking between the lines in these award letters are some practices colleges use when offering admission and financial aid. Colleges will either lure students to accept their offer of admission, or discourage those students who were only offered admission to fill their quotas and inflate their numbers.

Front Loading

Front loading happens when colleges make their most generous financial aid award offers to applicants as a lure to attend. When students return the following year they may find their school has dropped their previously awarded grants and scholarships. Thousands of dollars may have been lost to the common practice of front loading, so ask these 5 questions:

  • Is the grant/scholarship renewable and if so for how many years? What you want is the money to continue until the student graduates. Bear in mind it is taking longer, four to six years, for those who graduate to do so. Find out the maximum number of times the award will be made.
  • What are the strings attached to keeping the grant/scholarship? It’s important to understand the terms of receiving free money awards before acceptance to make sure the student can and will perform them. He may have to keep his grades up, play an instrument, or be a member on a team. Find out the eligibility requirements each year including any additional paperwork necessary to keep them.
  • If the grant/scholarship is lost, what will replace it? Often student loans are the college’s substitution plan. However, there may be other grants/scholarships available. Ask about them and the application process. Be prepared to continue searching for these and have a college finance Plan B.
  • Will the college bill increase in following years and if so, by how much? Those renewable grants/scholarships may no longer cover the same portion of college costs if tuition rises. See what if any cost components like tuition/fees and room/board are capped or held at the freshmen level.
  • Will the grant/scholarship be increased to keep pace with any raised college costs? Be aware most colleges will not match tuition increases or increase free money aid when tuition rates increase. However, the college bill must continue to be paid.


In admissions, college gapping is a term used in reference to colleges and financial aid awards. The gap between what you can afford to pay (your EFC) and what colleges offer in aid creates this gap. Gapping happens when a college makes an offer of admission and doesn’t back it up with financial aid. Quite simply, the college doesn’t offer enough aid to cover the difference between the cost of the college attendance and your expected family contribution.

Gapping is a serious business. Colleges use the tactic to “weed out” the good applicants from the average applicants. Quite simply, if your student is at the top of their applicant pool, they will receive the aid required to attend. If not, your student will be gapped, in the hopes they will reject the offer of admission.

It’s a numbers game. Colleges offer admission to more students than they can possibly accommodate. Gapping helps them lessen the number of students who accept those offers of admission.

Padding the Award

Colleges will pad the EFC numbers with federal student loans, federal parent loans and work-study. These should NOT be considered when determining if the college is gapping your student. All students qualify for federal student loans. College aid should only be in the form of merit scholarships and grants. If the difference between what you can afford and what the college offers is padded with loans, the college is gapping your student.

The lesson for parents and their college-bound students is to carefully scrutinize, analyze and question each item in their financial aid awards before bothering to compare one college’s offer to another. It may turn out that freshman year is a best deal at one place but if the total years until graduation are tallied, another choice may be the better bargain. 

If the college is gapping your student it’s you and your student’s decision on whether or not to accept the offer of admission. If you want my advice–move on to the 2nd, 3rd or even 4th choice college with the good financial aid package. You will not only save a bundle, but your student will most likely be happier at a college that values his or her contribution.

Credit Card Facts and Risks for College Students


It is easy to be lured in getting a credit card when you are in college. This is due to the expenses that you need to pay and the limited amount of money that you have.

Getting a credit card won’t be a problem if you know you are able to repay what you have borrowed. If you have a part-time job, go ahead and get one. Without an income source however, getting a credit card would be very risky.

Aside from the risk of not being able to pay your debts, you also place yourself at risk of a possible credit card fraud. A lot of naïve college students have fallen victim to credit card scammers. These are people who will do everything just to take your money away from you.

They have employed different strategies aimed at fooling people to provide their credit card information or online account passwords so they can make use of the credit card as their own. You can only imagine how devastating it would be if you are a victim of this scam.

If adults who have full time jobs have a hard time facing this kind of problem, you don’t want to imagine what could happen to you considering that you don’t even have a job. This is why you really have to stay protected. With the right knowledge on how to fight against these scammers, it is easy to stay away from them.

Below is an infographic giving you more information about credit card fraud. It also provides tips on how you can keep yourself protected against these bad people. You need to do everything so they won’t lure you into their scams and eventually report them to the authorities.

Credit Card Fraud Stats - Protect Yourself from Being Scammed

Learning New Skills to Improve Your Job Prospects After College



job prospects

Walking to hell and back seems like a simpler task then landing on a smoking hot new job position that just has been opened. Too many applicants and too few vacancies are the struggle we have to deal with on a day-to-day basis right now.

Applying for a new job demonstrates how survival of the fittest law still works in our modern lives. The person with the best resume, more skills and a better overall appearance gets a bigger paycheck. Sad, but true.

But do you know you can be that person? It’s pretty easy and doesn’t even take too much effort. All of the skills you need are easily gained at home.

That’s right, you’ve heard me. You can master new arts and skills without even leaving your living room. How?

Learn a new language!

The more you know the merrier. This skill is pivotal if you are applying for a position in an international company with offices all over the world. Dozens of services allow you to hire an English teacher online or get access to a tutor in French, German, Spanish or whatever other language.

Get your personal tutor via Preply!

Preply service is getting popular day by day with people striving to hire a professional to learn a foreign language. By allowing the customer to choose a specific person whose methods and working schedule correspond to their own needs, Preply provides the unprecedented level of commodity combined with professionals’ willing to make sure you can speak any language fluently in no times. This can be easily achieved via Skype. A personal tutor will be there for you whenever you need one. Ask all the questions you want, as much of them as you feel like and get answers – clear, precise answers. The two of you will have all the time on the world after all. Access to a native speaker is also a huge plus as you will listen to appropriate pronunciation, vocabulary and what not. In other words – you will learn a totally new language in a heartbeat – is that not an exceptional opportunity to juice up your resume?

Master new, relevant skills

Let’s say you are a programmer. As you graduate from the university you will have certain knowledge of particular languages like Java or PHP. You start looking for a job and all people in your region want coders with skills in Ruby on Rails, Python or Golang. Bummer!

Luckily sites like Udemy are here for you, these are the cites where you will not only master new skills briefly or through a series of more complex exercises, but you will also get a certification to prove your worth. It’s like getting a degree in machine learning within a week or two. How awesome is that?

These kinds of sites don’t work for programmers alone as they offer various courses starting from sales to marketing or even carpeting. You choose the industry and there will be lessons with certifications for it online!

Enjoy TED talks

TED talks are usually streamed on YouTube and are the events where leading professionals of any given industry highlight some of the most important, up-to-date niche-specific issues paired with provocative, throughout solutions.

Being not just a common educational institution TED talks allow professionals to stay on their toes in the ever-changing digital world of the 21st century.

Google for relevant info

The last but not least, this way is probably the best one at nailing a job interview before even being invited for it. Google up reviews, testimonials as well as stuff on the corporate blog about the company you are interested in. Befriend its workers on Facebook in advance. Ask about how their team works? How do they function?  

After getting the answers you will know who to talk to and what they expect from a candidate. You will also know whether a company is a fitting choice for you as well as your newly buffed stack of skills.

In Conclusion

Now you know it all. You know how to make your job seeking attempts convert better. You know how to master new skills and stay on your toes in an ever-changing digital world. Congratulations!

Now, that all that is done think – do you need that job in the first place or perhaps it is finally time to venture on into the realm of entrepreneurship? You can do that with all your hot new skills.

Parents, Money and Minors: Credit, Cash and Your College Bound Kid



Getting your kids through college is always going to be a financial challenge for many parents and there are plenty of decisions that have to be made about how much monetary support you should provide and when they need to take up the slack.

Here is a look at some of the answers to those vital questions, with insights on potential solutions and tips on how to decide what level of support you can and should provide to them when they heading off to college. Plus some tips on getting financial help and why you need to try and protect your credit score.

Student life on credit

One of the best lessons to teach your kids before they are college bound is to try and instill some financial discipline into them so that they understand the need for budgeting and how to make their money stretch as far as possible.

That is going to be important during their time at college when there will be plenty of legitimate expenses to deal with, and some spending like funding their social life, that will all need to come out of the one pot of cash available.

If you are considering the idea of a credit card as a funding idea, you have two options available.

You can either suggest they apply for a card in their own name if they can get accepted, or you could agree to add them as an authorized user on one of your own existing cards. It might also be possible to agree to co-sign on a student card, which means you are going to be equally responsible for the debt accrued on that card.

Talk to your kids about building a credit history and the responsibilities of paying off the balance, especially when you consider how long it will take to repay the balance if you only make the minimum payment each month.

If you want to learn more about managing your credit card balances you can visit Consolidation.CreditCard.

Reckless habits will carry consequences

If your kid is college bound they should be more than ready to take on the responsibility of managing credit and also understand the ramifications both now and in the future if they manage to get themselves into debt.

A good credit history has always been important and it opens doors to the sort of finance you need to get on in life, such as getting a mortgage to buy a home. Want you don’t want then to do is run up debts at college that they can’t deal with, leaving their credit score damaged and their immediate financial prospects looking a lot less positive.

Get help

There are no two ways about it, getting your child through college is an expensive business, which is why it makes sense to see if you can get some financial help to make things a little easier.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will help you to determine how much financial aid you should be able to claim.

It might prove an arduous task filling in the paperwork, but it is an important document and the money you get could make all the difference to your family finances.


Today’s guest post is from Anthony Farmer. He writes about finances and kids; saving for them, teaching them the value of money as well as real life skills they need. He is a Dad and an educator who writes for a range of parenting sites.

Medicine Could Be the Cure for Your Student’s Career Confusion


If you’re still in high school trying to decide what you should study at college, the answer might be simpler than you think. Instead, of looking at random and weird choices, perhaps you should consider one of the most popular industries in the world: medicine. We think there’s a pretty basic reason why some people are put off studying medicine. They think it means that they either have to become a doctor or a nurse and that’s just not true. There are lots of other job positions in this field. You may all go through the same training, but once you reach the stage of having your full license, your career can take off in any direction that you want. So, you don’t have to keep working with patients if that’s your biggest fear.

Actually, contrary to popular belief doctors don’t even spend that much time with the patients they are treating. You can find out more about that on On average, doctors will spend roughly ninety seconds with each patient they see on the hospital floor per day. So, if you’re not really a people person, you don’t have to be to become a doctor. You just have to be fascinated by the workings of the human body and have an unquenchable thirst for learning. As a nurse, on the other hand, you may have to work with patients, but you don’t need to know all there is about treatment plans and diagnosis. These are just two of the basic positions you can fill in medicine. There are many others so let’s look at why this could be the perfect career choice for you.

Respect And Authority

A medical degree is easily one of the most respected qualifications you can earn. It’s not a throwaway major like Geography can be or philosophy. This will lead you towards multiple career options and perhaps more importantly, a great deal of respect on the job market. You don’t even have to work in medicine with a medical degree. The skills you learn on a medical course are transferable to other positions. So, you can certainly think about extending your branches, and when you do, you’ll be at the top of the list for employers.

Hate Hospitals?

There’s no need to work in one. As a fully trained health professional, you could run your own practice if you’re willing to invest the time and the money. It won’t be easy, but once you set out a plan and have some capital behind you it can be accomplished. You can then choose the type of care you provide, the payment you want and the staff you hire. Working as a doctor doesn’t have to mean long hours, heavy responsibilities and more when you’re in charge of the programme.

That’s not the only option either. You can also think about working without borders at all. That’s right, as a doctor or nurse you don’t have to be stuck in a building all day. It is possible to join doctors without borders and travel the world helping people. As such a career in medicine can still be just as exciting as a travel blogger and far more rewarding. Have a look at

Or, how about working in private medicine. If you work hard in school and college, you can get the best grades. You will then be able to move forwards applying for jobs in private practices. Private hospitals aren’t anything like your typical health corporation. Instead, the hours are great, the pay is fantastic, and the facilities are excellent.

Don’t Want To Deal With Death?

You don’t have to, there are plenty of specialties that mean you aren’t working with living patients at all. Instead, you can train to be a pathologist. Here, it’s your responsibility to find out why a patient died. But you can never be responsible for missing something that killed a patient. The tragic fact about medicine is that human error still exists. Eventually, a doctor or nurse will make a mistake that could result in the death of an individual patient. If you want to completely avoid this possibility working in a morgue could be the perfect choice for you.

Hate Blood?

Another almost stereotypical reason why people don’t go into medicine is that they have a fear of blood and guts. But again, a medical career doesn’t have to involve gruesome procedures and cutting open human bodies. Instead, you can work in research. Here, you’re more likely to be handling reports rather than performing surgeries. You might also on occasion run clinical trials, but that still won’t involve medical procedures. Most likely it will be things like testing new drugs and possible physical treatments. But, you can decide what type of clinical trial you are interested in.

Or, you could enter the mental sector of health looking at psychiatric conditions. To do this, you will still need a medical degree, but at some point, during your studies, you will branch off and focus on the mind rather than the body. You can have a look at jobs at or a similar site to find more information about this possibility.

Too Hard

There is the idea that because medicine is one of the most reputable courses, it’s also one of the hardest. This isn’t quite true and will medicine can be tricky it’s more because you’re running a marathon. You have to pace yourself to make sure that you don’t get overwhelmed. This is the true issue people have with the study of health. It’s so vast and there’s so much to learn it can seem impossible. You just have to remember that a lot of people have come before you and a lot will come after you. It’s not an impossible task, it never has been and while it’s true dropout numbers are high, a lot of people do succeed. You shouldn’t just assume it’s not for you because the challenge is too great. All you need is a little determination and a lot of hard work. Then, you will succeed in the medical field. Have a look at for more info on what it’s like to be a doctor.

Test Stress Relief Tips for Students


test stress

These days, a lot of kids feel pressured to perform academically. Getting into a good college generally requires superior high school grades, and that means passing tests. Even junior high schoolers and kids in lower grades can feel stressed about school, especially right before an important test. In the interest of calming pre-test jitters for all, we offer the following quick tips that offer fast relief.

Study better, not harder

If your child excels at studying and note-taking, they may fare better as test time approaches. Students who brainstorm together in small groups may improve their study skills and boost confidence in their test-taking abilities, so say education experts at Cengage magazine.

Just chill out and relax, relax, relax

There are a number of proven relaxation techniques that can go a long way toward relieving pre-test anxiety. Among them are listening to classical or ambient music, taking a walk to refresh the brain and playing with puppies, according to GoConqr. And never, ever underestimate the importance -and stress relief- of a great night’s sleep. Hours spent asleep help the human brain to store new knowledge into the memory center of the brain where it can be recalled on test day. If you’ve ever tried to concentrate after a missed night’s sleep, you know that this is true.

Snack on chocolate, but make sure it’s the dark kind. Comprising around 70 percent pure cocoa, dark chocolate helps to counteract a stress hormone called cortisol. As an extra added bonus, deeply dark chocolate is known to cause the brain to release the happiness chemicals called endorphins. Sounds like a win-win proposition, right? It is.

Go low tech

Students intent on passing a crucial exam do themselve an enormous favor when they turn off their phones. Checking messages, scrolling a Facebook news feed and messing around on Twitter are fun, but they’re also amazing time-wasters. Students who waste time online may not have enough time to be fully prepared for a test, and that can be a huge stressor.

Teens who meditate tend to be far less stressed than teens who don’t. The ancient art of meditation is a brilliant way to take a relaxing break from study and ‘reset’ the mind. Meditation may also help nervous students to maintain their sense of focus while boosting mental health. Mandalas are a nice part of some student’s meditations. An Adroid app such as mandala coloring book app offers calming geometric patterns and a rainbow of colors that give students a stress-relief break any time they need it. Mandalas aren’t the only things you can illustrate with this free Android app from Google Play. Animal pics, flowers and other entertaining coloring projects come with Coloring Book For Me & Mandala from Apalon.

Puppies, hamsters and fish tanks can be good stress relievers, too. Playing with pets, petting cats and popping bubble wrap are relaxing forms of play that can do much to calm those pre-exam jitters.


Today’s guest post is from Leo Wright, a Dad who works part time as an assistant at his son’s school. He writes about educating your kids at home, as well as supporting their schoolwork.

Renewable Energy: Red Hot College Majors to Investigate


renewable energy

Too many parents complain that their student’s college major is unemployable after graduation. With the cost of college rising, it means families are conscious of the value of higher education and it’s ROI (return on investment). Even though ROI is not the most crucial criteria for choosing a college and a major, it should certainly be a factor in the college choice.

Renewable energy jobs are red hot right now. Whether you’re looking for a hands-on job in the field such as solar installer or a highly educated position such hydrologist, it’s important to create an education road map to make sure you reach your goals.

Renewable energy sources include wind, solar, geothermal, and hydropower, and capturing those resources for energy requires many levels of skill sets: construction crew, technician, project manager, research scientist, mechanical engineer, lawyer, financial expert and beyond. While construction and technician positions may only need trade school or associates degrees, many higher-paying positions will require specialized degrees taking four years or more.

Map your green and renewable energy career with these three detailed resources explaining career opportunities in the solar, renewable energy, and green industries:

Breaking into the Solar Industry

Renewable Energy Degree Programs

Green Careers Beyond Solar

It’s a Match: Fall in Love with Your 2nd Choice College


This article was originally published on Smart College Visit as part of my Parent College Coach tips. In honor of Valentine’s Day, I wanted to repost it.


2nd choice college

A song by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, “Love the One You’re With”, brings me back to my teen years. Yes. It dates me. But it reminds me of a good piece of advice my mother once gave me: you can’t always get what you want, but what you need is often better.

This might be a strange parley into today’s tip, but it got me thinking about college acceptances and the inevitable rejections that often arrive. Students all over the country who applied regular admission are biting their nails waiting to hear from their first choice colleges. Will they be accepted? Will they be wait-listed? Or will the college they dreamed of reject their application and not offer admission.

What do you do when that happens? First you let your teen grieve, and maybe you grieve, and then you move on. If you crafted a good college list, there are some perfectly wonderful colleges on that list—they may not be the first choice, but they are often the best choice. Your student may not be “in love” with those other choices, but it might be time to love the one you’re with and move on.

Here are 5 good reasons to fall in love with your 2nd, or 3rd, or 4th choice college:

1. Everything happens for a reason–How many times have we all said this to our children? There could be a dozen reasons why their 1st choice college didn’t offer them admission or enough financial aid to attend. Admissions counselors tell us that each application is a subjective process and they can’t admit everyone. While it might seem like a rejection to your teen, in reality it’s their decision that your student might not be a good fit for their college. Take that as a cue to move on and find the college that feels they ARE a perfect fit!

2. In the light of day everything seems different–College choices are often made based on peer pressure, parent pressure and status. After all the hype and stress of applying, it’s easier to sit down and look at the choices your student made in a more objective light. The pressure of applying is now gone and all you need to do is thoughtfully evaluate those colleges that have offered admission. The ball is now in your court–you get to decide!

3. A closer look might reveal a hidden gem–Take some time and diligently investigate the colleges further down on the list that have offered acceptance. Compare offers, visit their campuses again, talk to current students and be open to discovery. You never know what you might unearth in the process.

4. Those other colleges on your list are more than sloppy seconds–Your 2nd and 3rd choice college made the list for a reason. Don’t look at them as sloppy seconds, but realize that they could have been your 1st choice all along. How many of us have passed over life choices, only to realize later that we discounted their value and missed out on amazing opportunities.

5. What you NEED is always better than what you WANT–It’s true. We often want things that aren’t always the best for us. We teach our kids to pursue needs before wants; the same can be true for the college choices. Your teen may want an Ivy League logo on their vehicle, but what they need might be a small private university with smaller classes and individual attention.

Is Distance Learning Right for You?


distance learning

When it comes to studying, the most typical method we take is to go to a college, university or similar school and just learn. We speak to our lecturer, teacher, or advisors and we learn from them. We buy books, study them, write up documents and complete tests to prove that we’ve learned something. That’s the standard way and for many years that has been the norm. However, we’re seeing a shift in learning practices thanks to technology and we’re now able to not only learn online but even study for a degree.

There’s no questioning the effectiveness, reduced costs and the convenience of studying from a distance. You get an equal level of education studying from home, you don’t pay as much because of no travel costs and resources are readily available online, and you don’t have to rent a student accommodation or move closer to your campus. The best part about it (arguably) is that you can study in your own time. There’s no attending lectures or classes, and you can study whenever you have the time meaning it’s great if you also work from home or have a job.

There is a lot to study

In addition to studying for an online bachelor’s degree, you could resort to less formal methods such as consulting online guides, tutorials and free lectures that are recorded by major educational institutes such as MIT. No matter what you want to study, there’s bound to be an online course or lessons you can study that suit your needs. However, if you want to have a qualification at the end of it, then you’re going to need to go through formal channels to ensure that you get a degree or qualification at the end of it. But if you’re learning for the sake of picking up new skills and hobbies, then you can do that without much money involved and by using free resources.

There are some downsides

Depending on your personality, learning in solitude might not be your thing. You won’t get to experience university life. You won’t be attending a campus, you won’t be meeting friends and you probably won’t be getting out much if you have to study from home. This means there’s very little communication and the only person you’ll really speak to is your lesson planner or teacher. Some online study services have communities where you can chat with fellow students, but it’s not the same as meeting them in person and sharing study notes or going for a coffee. However, this might be seen as an upside for people who are introverted learners.

You have to be self-motivated

Since you won’t have friends to help you out or face-to-face contact with your teachers, you probably won’t be getting much motivation or support. This means you’ll have to be self-sufficient in most cases and you’ll have to formulate your own plan when it comes to organising your lessons, when you have to study and how to study for tests or examinations. If you aren’t good at organising and motivating yourself, then online study might take awhile to get accustomed to.

Scholarships That Pay All Your College Expenses

college expenses

Everyone wants a free ride for college. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Even athletic scholarships rarely provide students with a full ride for athletes.

Scholarships that pay all college expenses are available, however, if you know where to look. Here are four ways your student can win enough scholarship money to pay for all their college expenses.

Colleges with merit-aid

Good grades, good test scores, a stellar volunteer record and essay, can mean thousands of dollars in merit aid from the college. If your student is applying to one of the colleges on this list, he or she could score enough money to pay for all their college expenses.

Merit Aid Scholarship Directory

Colleges with great scholarships for National Merit finalists

The PSAT is one way to win a full-ride scholarships. If your student is a National Merit finalist (which isn’t that difficult with a little preparation), he or she would be offered a full-ride scholarship and more. Here’s a list of colleges that offer scholarships to National Merit finalists.

Colleges With Scholarships for National Merit Finalists

Colleges with full-ride scholarships

Full-ride scholarships are offered to the students who are at the top of the applicant pool. The bar is set pretty high, but if your student is one of them, they could score a scholarship that pays all their college expenses. How does your student get to the top of the applicant pool? Apply to colleges where their SAT scores and GPA are higher than other students. This list will help you find those schools.

Comprehensive List of Full-Ride Scholarships

Winning multiple outside  scholarships

If your student works hard at applying for scholarships, it’s entirely possible to win enough scholarship money to pay for all their college expenses. Monica Matthew’s son, with her help, won $100,000 in scholarships. If you want to know how she did it, read her story and while you are there, purchase her simple how-to guide.

Finding and winning full-ride scholarships can be done. But it takes some effort: searching for the right colleges, doing the work in school, and applying for scholarships.