9 Financial Aid Questions and Answers

This post is for current and future college students. It attempts to provide answers for questions that impact each and every undergraduate student seeking assistance with financing their college education.

  1. Can I know exactly how much a college education will cost before the freshman year?

Unfortunately as much as we’d like to know and be able to plan for college costs, until one completes college, one doesn’t really know how much a college will cost. Here are some reasons why one cannot know the entire cost of college on the front end.

First, financial aid eligibility. Need and/or merit based grants come with financial and/or academic requirements. If one does not meet those financial and/or academic requirements eligibility for these grants can be lost. Losing a grant means that students and/or parents need to come up with a way to cover college costs.

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6 Secrets for College Freshmen

Congratulations on getting into college. I bet you are excited, scared, ready for the next step, and sad to see your high school friends scatter to the wind. Almost everyone is experiencing this the same way you do. So before you let anxiety set in read on and know that you’ll be okay and have a blast.

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5 Reasons Why Changing Majors Late in College Is Not a Good Idea

The fall semester is about to begin, so this post is for juniors and seniors getting ready to return to college. While there is no specific definition of what constitutes a junior or senior student in college, we’ll use the number of credit hours completed as a measure. Therefore, a student that completed at least 60 credit hours is a junior and one that completed at least 90 credit hours is senior. As a point of reference, a college degree typically requires the completion of 120 credit hours.

Therefore, here are some of the reasons why changing majors late in the game could backfire.

As a point of clarification, I am not saying that changing majors is bad, in fact changing majors is good. Studies showed that students who change majors are more likely to continue their college education and not drop out than students who don’t change majors. These changes in majors, however, are best to occur during the first two years rather than the last two years of college.

Therefore, if you think about changing majors during your junior year or later, keep the following reasons in mind:

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How to Get Competitive Advantage in the Job Market: The Role of Programmatic Accreditation

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Who is This Post For?

  • Students getting ready to declare a major, especially majors related to health, law, business, engineering, etc.
  • Students knowing what they want to major in and needing to choose between a college/university vs. another, all else being equal
  • Individuals getting ready to go back to school and invest a significant amount of money in their education

Why is Programmatic Accreditation Important?

  1. Licensing.  Graduating from a program that has discipline specific accreditation can take the licensure exam. This is especially true for Law and some Health programs (physical therapy, nursing, etc.).
  1. Competitive advantage in the labor market. Graduates of programs that are accredited by programmatic accreditation agencies may have a competitive advantage in the labor market. For example, job ads may require that only graduates from programs accredited by a certain accreditor would be considered for the position.

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College’s Best Kept Secret: The College Placement Tests

This is a time to celebrate the acceptance letter(s), weigh in the financial aid packet(s), and decide on the college that you’d like to attend this fall. Before we go any further let me congratulate you on your acceptance. While the focus now is on enjoying the senior year of high school, the prom, and spending as much time as possible with your high school friends, please know that there is one more thing you need to pay close attention to. It has everything to do with high school and everything to do with college. It’s the college placement test and it’s one of the best kept secrets in higher education. The college placement test is administered by the vast majority of institutions (colleges/universities) to a large portion of the incoming freshmen class.

Studies have found that the majority of high school graduates are not prepared for the rigors of college work or what is commonly referred to as college ready. About 75 percent of the colleges and universities test their incoming freshman to determine if they are ready for college level courses. This is the part where you’ll probably say, but I have a decent SAT score and a good high school GPA so I don’t need to be tested.

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Licensure Passage Rates

Licensure passage rates are important for students who are about one year into their college career and are ready to commit to a major that requires licensing. They are also important for college graduates that decide to continue their studies at graduate level and are ready to invest a significant amount of time and money in education for their future career.

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College Graduation Rates: A Love Hate Relationship

Graduation rates can provide important information, but their value can be debatable. Graduation rates are a complex and imperfect measure. I see graduation rate as providing information that is nice to know, but not absolutely necessary in making college attendance decisions. On the other hand, this nice to know information can become somewhat important when a college has a 6-year graduation rates in the low teens.

The following sections discuss how graduation rates are measured and where to go to find the graduation rates for different colleges and universities.

  1. Fall full-time freshman year enrollments. The graduation rates that are available for exploration are provided by the College Navigator. The issue with these rates is that they include only students that entered the institution during the fall semester and enrolled full-time during their freshman year (12 credit hours). In other words, students that entered the institution during the Fall semester as part-time, as well as students entering the institution during the Spring and Summer semesters as either full- or part-time are excluded from the graduation rates calculations. Additionally, transfer students are also excluded.

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9 Strategies to Ensure Successful Transfer from Community College to University

Starting at the community college and transferring to the university to complete a college degree provides several benefits, including:

• Lower overall college costs – tuition and fees are lower at the community college and community colleges are unlikely to have living on campus requirements.
• Skipping standardized testing (SAT/ACT)
• Earning a credential along the way – the Associate of Arts (AA) degree.

This post provides actionable information to ensure that the maximum number of credits transfer from community college to university. Continue reading “9 Strategies to Ensure Successful Transfer from Community College to University”

Taking Stock of the First Semester in College

So you just finished the first semester in college. It wasn’t an easy one and things couldn’t have been more different than what you were expecting. But don’t despair your experience is not unique and there is nothing abnormal about it. Here is yet another listsicle with the things that almost all freshmen experienced during their first semester in college.

  1. This is hard stuff. Yes, transitions are always though and when you transition from high school standards and expectations to college ones things are bound to be though. So what you are feeling is normal and almost everybody went through a similar experience. I can promise you that it will get better the second semester and the rest of them will get easier. Hang in there.

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The 4 Building Blocks of The College Sticker Price

Sticker price represents the total cost of a year of college and is a combination of four categories of costs. While very few people pay the sticker price it is helpful to know what these costs entail and where to go to learn more information about them. Sticker price is also referred to as sticker shock and it is one of the main factors impacting the college attendance decision. However, as noted before, very very few people pay sticker price because many qualify for some type of grants or scholarships.


  1. Tuition represents the amount of dollars an institution charges per credit hour. Depending on the institutional control (public or private) the institution has varying degrees of control over it. Some public institutions have no control over their tuition while other public ones have full control over it. For privates tuition setting control belongs to the institution and they can adjust it as they see fit. Tuition adjustments, typically increases, occur before the fall semester and an institution’s website is the best way to get a clear picture of the actual cost.

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