Is that Financial Aid?!?

Acceptance Day
On that exciting day when your child’s acceptance letter comes in the mail (or through the online portal) one of the awaited portions is the financial aid package.  How much will you pay? How much aid will be given?  Can you even interpret your financial aid package?

Interpreting Financial Aid
Often when students look at the financial aid package they find that they are “awarded” money in the form of scholarships, grants, and loans.  Wait, did you get that last part?  Yes, you are “awarded” a loan.  A loan that doesn’t tell you the interest rate, a loan that doesn’t let you know how much more you will have to take out in order to complete your degree, a loan that you will 100% have to repay.  Be aware that student loans are one of the only forms of debt that can not be written off during a bankruptcy.  You are stuck with this debt for life, or until you pay it off.  According to a Brookings Institute study 28% of first year borrowers didn’t even know they had loans!

Should I take out a Loan?
We are often asked if we think that a student should or should not take out a loan.  That is not for us to decide.  The advice we will give is to make sure that the amount of debt you incur makes sense for the amount of money you will make once you graduate.  Also keep in mind that finding your perfect career right out of college isn’t a guarantee so your starting pay may be even lower than anticipated.  It is clear that taking out loans allows people access to higher education and often that benefit will outweigh the curse of paying them off, just make sure they are not too high of a burden.

Be aware of the package you’re offered when you finally send in that acceptance.  We’re here to help you read between the lines of your financial aid package.  Then we will celebrate with you when you make your final decision for your next big step!

How Many Times Can I take the SATs?

     The short answer…as many times as you want to. A question to ask yourself is: at what point the stress and time spent on the SATs is hurting other areas of your college prep process?  Students can start taking the SATs as freshman, although many wait until the spring of their junior year.  Think about your schedule.  In the spring will you be taking AP courses, playing sports, performing in the school musical?  If so, then maybe you would benefit from taking a prep course over the summer and then taking the SATs in the fall of your junior year.  While the SATs are offered 7 times per year, taking them in October, November, or December would give you time to take them, receive your scores, and retake them if needed.  Scores take 17-22 days to process, and once you have the score you are shooting for, then you can focus on your busy spring schedule before jumping into the application season with us the summer before your senior year.

For updated test dates, including registration deadlines, and when you should consider starting a comprehensive test prep program, visit www.princetonreview.com/college/sat-test-dates