Education briefs for Dec. 31 |

Education briefs for Dec. 31

Lowering college costs

Private colleges provide merit grants and scholarships for good students regardless of their family’s income level or qualification for need-based financial aid.

Private colleges must offer financial aid in order to attract the best students and stay competitive with lower-cost state colleges, experts say.

“Institutional aid is not guaranteed,” said Brian C. Greenberg, certified college planning specialist. “Students wishing to be considered for this form of aid must position themselves correctly to be recruited by private colleges.”

Greenberg said that proper positioning begins early in high school and involves seven factors:

Good grades: Student should have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA in high school to be in the running for a tuition discount.

Good SAT/ACT test scores: A student should have a minimum of 24 ACT or 1,250 SAT test score to be in the running for institutional aid.

A solid resume: Participation in civic groups and community service projects show the student is well-rounded outside of studies.

Apply early: High school students should apply to colleges no later than December of their senior year.

Apply to schools that recruit the same students: Private colleges compete with each other for the same students and are more likely to give significant institutional aid if they know the student also is applying to a competitive school.

Apply to schools that have a low “yield factor”: Students should apply to colleges that have a high admission rate, yet have a low number of students that enroll.

Apply to six to eight colleges: At least four colleges should represent private schools that compete with the student’s primary college choice. This strategy gives the student the opportunity to receive institutional aid from one college and use that award to ask for a similar or better award from the college the student prefers.

“It is important for parents to ask for information from each private college about the various merit grants, scholarships and other incentives available, as they differ from college to college,” Greenberg said.

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