financial aid

Ten Valuable Take-Aways from The HECA Conference in Philadelphia June 2016

I met many knowledgeable and caring professionals including other IECs (Independent Educational Consultants), college presidents, college admissions representatives, vendors and authors at the HECA conference in Philadelphia last week.  I toured eight college campuses, attended nine workshops and listened to leaders in the field speak about college admissions, Liberal Arts Colleges, the current and future state of higher education and the Coalition for Access and Admission in Higher Education. The conference was extremely valuable and information rich. These ten valuable take-aways offer only a glimpse of what was offered.

Ten Valuable Take-Aways from the HECA conference in Philadelphia June 2016

(- not all new information, but information that I feel is valuable for my students and families to know)

  1. Checking the box indicating that you are applying for financial aid in the college application can cause your application to be considered incomplete to the college until all financial firms are submitted.
  2. It is important that after registering for any future SAT test, students check the email associated with their College Board account. The College Board implemented a new plan in June 2016. Selected students who register for the test will receive an email stating that they are required to submit a Verification Form by a given deadline. If the form is not submitted by this deadline, College Board will cancel the student’s registration and credit the registration fee back to the credit card. Avoid the surprise of showing up for the SAT only to find that you are not actually registered.  Students MUST check their email often.
  3. There are three different routes to the military: Service Academies, ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) and OCS (Officer Candidate School)  Each path has different requirements
  4. There is a company called New Frontiers in Learning that is full of trained professionals to help students with learning difficulties navigate the transition to college and learn to self advocate.
  5. HECA members as a whole are dedicated, collaborative, extremely caring and knowledgeable professionals in the field of college consulting.
  6. Liberal arts students are in demand: CIC Website For higher ed professionals - LiberalArtsPower For students and parents-  LiberalArtsLife Can you see yourself in this environment- @smartcolleges twitterfeed
  7. Purpose fuels GRIT and experiencing failure is essential to building resiliency
  8. Colleges want to admit students who will succeed there. If there is a concern about that, some colleges give the student a chance to try it out before committing. (Passport Program- St Joseph's University)
  9. Colleges and Universities have priorities in building their class each year. Their goal is to build a community of students who will help the university continue on its mission.
  10. Each college/university has special qualities just as each student does. The staff and faculty at those colleges really want their students to take advantage of all the school has to offer.
  • A pre-med student really can actively pursue the arts in college as well. Muhlenberg College, Swarthmore College
  • A women's college can be made as coed as the student desires it to be.
  • Traditions are strong on most campuses (Bryn Mawr /Haverford/ Lehigh/Lafayette)
  • Engineering and business can be combined. (Lehigh IBE, Villanova SBI)
  • Pass fail evaluations require exceptional knowledge of a given subject and/or field. (Swarthmore College Honors Program)
  • Intellectual curiosity is very important - Haverford College
  • Jesuit colleges have the mission of developing students of giving character with a strong appreciation of differences. (Villanova University, Saint Josephs University)
  • Not every arts focused student needs to present a portfolio for admission. For schools that do require it, specific types of art are required and the admissions staff is there to help students through the process. (Muhlenberg College, Tyler School of Art at Temple University, University of the Arts in Philadelphia)
  • There are colleges who aim to provide both admission decisions and financial aid awards to early admission applicants by December 20. (Drew University)
  • Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators LLC


    PPY - A Term That it Would Be Wise for Parents of the High School Class of 2017 and Beyond to Know

    $ for CollegeWhy know the term PPY? - PPY will be used to determine eligibility for federal financial aid What does PPY stand for? - Prior-Prior Year

    What is PPY? - The tax year that will be used to identify a family's Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) for college.  The EFC is a dollar amount which the federal government determines that a family can afford to pay for a year of education.

    Why is this important? The Federal EFC for the class of 2017 will be based on this tax year (2015) - In the past it would have been based on next year (the 2016 tax year) - This can make a significant difference in financial aid eligibility for families with fluctuating income levels.

    Beginning with the high school class graduating in 2017, a family's federal EFC will be based upon the prior prior year (PPY) tax return - the year the student is in the spring of his/her sophomore year and fall of his/her junior year of high school.

    For a more comprehensive description of PPY and the financial aid process, visit

    Sandy Aprahamian, EDNavigators LLC

    CollegeAffordability (This is a great website!  I have met the owner of this company and respect his knowledge and the fact that his work is fee-based - no commissions - no hidden agendas.)

    Should I complete the FAFSA? I don’t think I’ll qualify for financial aid.

    College - Just Ahead

    First: Use the FAFSA4Caster to see where you stand regarding financial aid eligibility.

    Then, as daunting as the process sounds, it is worth the effort to complete the FAFSA even if you don’t think you will qualify for aid for three reasons.

    1.  Some schools require that the FAFSA (and CSS Profile) be filed in order for the student to be considered for MERIT Aid. —It is worth a call to the Financial Aid office of the college/university to find out if the FAFSA/CSS Profile is required for students to be considered for Merit Aid AND the school’s deadline.

    2.  In order to get Federal Student Loans (some which are not based on financial need), the FAFSA must be filed.

    3.  In the unfortunate event that your financial position changes over the next 12 months, the FAFSA would already be on file and you would not have to wait until January of next year to file the new FAFSA.

    Related Content:

    Myths About Financial Aid

    The Dept. of Education source for answers about Federal Student Aid

    FAFSA:  Who Should Apply for Financial Aid? by Fred Amrein of College Affordability

    For more Resources relating to Financing College, visit the Software/Resources page of my website.

    Sandy Aprahamian, Principal, EDNavigators LLC

    Attention High School Athletes: The Academic Index

    Ivy League Pennants What is the Academic Index (AI)? - The Academic Index is a tool used by the Ivy League Schools to measure a high school athlete's academic performance and to determine whether or not the student has the academic credentials necessary to be admitted to the school.

    Why is the Academic Index Important? - In order to be accepted by the admissions office of an Ivy League School, high school athletes who plan to play their sport in college must meet the school's Academic Index.  It has become more important to understand the AI early in high school as high school athletes are being offered early verbal commitments from coaches as early as freshman year of high school.  If a student has his/her heart set on any Ivy League school, it is essential that the student knows whether or not he/she can meet the Ivy League's AI before making a decision on the early verbal offer from another school.

    Two New York Times articles by Bill Pennington are great resources on the topic of the Academic Index (AI) -

    Before Recruiting in Ivy League, Applying Some Math The Graphic on the left of the article show sample calculations.

    A Rare Glimpse Inside the Ivy League’s Academic Index

    To Get a General Idea of your AI:

    Add the results of 1, 2 and 3 below together:

    1.  SAT or ACT Index Number:

    • If using SAT scores to calculate AI, add reading and math scores and divide by 20
    • If using ACT scores to calculate AI, multiply the ACT Composite Score by 2.23

    2.  The GPA Index Number (this index number used to be based on class rank)

    The university has a conversion table to convert grade point average to an Academic Index number. The conversion can handle any conceivable grading scale, weighted or unweighted. A couple examples:

    • 3.5 (out of 4.0) unweighted yields 73 AI points,
    • 3.7 weighted is 71 points
    • 3.3 unweighted is 70 points
    • 3.0 unweighted is worth 67 points

    3.  SAT or ACT Index Number from step one or SAT II Subject Tests:  Add your 2 best SAT II subject tests together and divide that total by 20.

    Another article with valuable information about affording an Ivy League education:

    Financial Aid Changes Game as Ivy Sports Teams Flourish by Bill Pennington

    Sandy Aprahamian, Principal- EDNavigators LLC


    The College Put Me on the Wait List. What Does that Mean? What Should I Do?

    cropped-gold-boy-in-grad-cap.jpgI attended an outstanding webinar today hosted by Cyndy McDonald of Guided Path and delivered by  Peter Van Buskirk  of Best College Fit . Peter shared many valuable insights into the college admissions process from the perspective of the school’s enrollment management and yield. Peter Van Buskirk holds a wealth of knowledge.  I encourage you to visit his website BestCollegeFit to see when he presenting at an event in your area. Below are some key points Peter shared about Wait Lists.

    • Many schools use the wait list as a means to improve the yield that they report for rankings.
    • You are still in the game, but you need to continue to play your best.

    If you are truly interested in a school that puts you on its Wait List:

    • Act NOW.  Don’t wait.  Some schools go to the wait list as early as mid April.
    • Get on the radar screen of your regional recruiter.
    • Visit the campus.  Yes, AGAIN if you have already been there and be sure the admissions office knows you made the visit.
    • Clarify your need for financial aid.  If you have figured out a way to pay for the college without financial aid, let the college know this in writing.  Money matters when it comes to the wait list.
    • If you make it off the wait list, he school will most likely call you and ask you if you would like the spot.
    • Be ready because you most likely have only 24-48 hours to respond.  Your official offer won’t arrive until you verbally accept the spot.

    Most importantly, remember, the best college for you is the one that fits YOU best.  Don’t be swayed by glitzy advertising and don’t let a college’s decision shape your opinion of yourself.


    Sandy Aprahamian, Principal, EDNavigators, Independent Educational Consultant

    A Decrease in College Tuition Next Year??

    What do college degrees and airline tickets have in common? Their pricing structure. Rarely do students or passengers pay the same price as their classmates or fellow passengers. With merit aid and financial aid so prevalent in higher education, few students pay the full sticker price for their degree.  Families have come to expect some sort of tuition discount.

    To ease the sticker shock and attempt to make college more affordable, some small liberal arts schools have decided to either reduce tuition or lock-in the freshman tuition rate for the four years of college.

    It will be interesting to see what other changes occur as a result of the high cost of higher education and the fact that it has gotten out of reach for the majority of the middle class.

    Time Sensitive College Advice for High School Juniors and Their Parents

    For the Students:  Standardized Testing Timeline

    High School Juniors should plan to take the SAT or ACT this winter.  Sign up for the exams and begin preparation now.

    For the Parents:  Financial Aid/ College Affordability Timeline

    Parents, of Juniors, THIS (2013) is the tax year that will be used for FAFSA and Profile financial aid forms.  The time to get a feel for where you stand, is NOW.  I recommend a fee-based financial planner who specializes in college affordability.  Higher Education is a big investment and honest financial counseling is an important first step of the college planning process. The money and time spent on the financial planner's advice and analysis often pays for itself.  I recommend Fred Amrein at College Affordability for a personalized and customized financial plan for college. His website provides a financial aid video library.  It is worth a look.


    What is the College Scorecard?

    President Obama released the College Scorecard in February 2013. The College Scorecard is part of the U.S. Department of Education’s College Affordability and Transparency Center.  It aims to help consumers in deciding whether or not a college is a good value.  Today President Obama is scheduled to announce a proposal that will link ratings like this to financial aid. Check out the College Affordability and Transparency Center.  It has some valuable information and statistics.   I suggest that you do not input your finances into the Net Price Calculator on this page.  Some colleges track this information as part of their demonstrated interests/Enrollment Management Strategy.  EdNavigators offers a product called the College Affordability Shaper which allows you to see where you stand with regard to financial aid privately, with no one else being able to access your personal information.

    Sandy Aprahamian, Owner, Independent Educational Consultant, EdNavigators