Can Parents Call the College Financial Aid Office?

If you’re parenting a teen, there’s a good chance that sometime during the winter of your child’s senior year of high school, you’re going to be flipping through documents called “financial aid award letters.”

You’ll have a “financial aid award letter” from every college that’s accepted your child—as long as you’ve filled out the FAFSA financial aid form (which you should absolutely do, even if you’re rich).

When you’re sifting through three or four financial aid award letters, how do you compare them?

financial aid

This article is going to help you with that important task. As a starting point, let’s look very briefly at what financial aid award letters are, and what the problem tends to be with them.

Financial aid award letters tell you how much money you’ll be expected to pay for the education at each college. 

Sounds great, right? This is the point where you get to know the actual price tag for each school. This is where you find out which college is offering your daughter the best deal.

The problem is that financial aid award letters are notoriously difficult to interpret and compare. 

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Why and How to Stop Multitasking

Reclaim Your Productivity; Increase Enjoyment of Your Time Off

On the surface, it seems as though multitasking would make a great productivity tool. After all, if you can book a plane ticket and quickly shoot off an email while you’re on a phone meeting at work, why not? Haven’t you just masterfully killed two birds with one stone? Shouldn’t you be congratulated for being a brilliant time manager?

Research says no.

multitasking

Multitasking will drop your I.Q. faster than smoking pot.

One study showed that workers distracted by incoming email and text messages saw a whopping 10-point drop in their I.Q.s.

What’s the effect of a 10-point drop in I.Q.? It’s the same as losing an entire night’s sleep, and more than twice the effect of smoking marijuana.

Multitasking slashes your productivity by as much as 40%. 

We delude and fool ourselves into believing that we’re getting more done by multitasking. In reality, a day of multitasking results in less accomplishment, less productivity, and at the end of the day, something perhaps worse than mere low productivity.

Multitasking skyrockets feelings of stress and anxiety, eating away at the enjoyment of free time.

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The “Screenagers” Movie is a Must-See

Watch the Trailer Here—Find a Showing at the Link Below

Have you spent even one minute worrying about your kids’ use of screens? Physician and documentary filmmaker Delany Ruston sure has. She made the Screenagers movie after she found herself “constantly struggling with her own two kids about screen time.”

Screenagers

According to Ruston’s press release, she felt “guilty and confused, not sure what limits were best, especially around mobile phones, social media, gaming, and how to monitor online homework.” After hearing repeatedly how other parents were feeling just as overwhelmed as she was, she realized that kids’ use of screens is one of the biggest, most unexplored parenting issues of our time.

The good news? In her interview with a New York Times blogger, filmmaker Ruston says that, “Given the right guidelines, kids can increase self-control [over screens]. I was really surprised… kids consistently told me that they want rules around their screen time.”

Read the testimonials from teens and parents below.

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4 Amazingly Easy Steps To Get Out Of Debt

If you as a parent are out of debt by the day your kid starts college, you’ll have more cash on hand to help with college bills. If you start the process of getting out of debt years before your kid starts college, you’ll have more cash on hand to save for college.

Either way, you’ll dramatically increase the chances that your child will graduate from college and begin adult life debt-free.

Today I’m featuring four amazingly easy steps to get out of debt, from best-selling author Dave Ramsey. These steps to get out of debt are so easy, you can fit them on a post-it note.

get out of debt

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My Top 10 Debt-Free College Articles of 2017

2017 was a year of explosive growth for my blog and weekly email newsletter readership. Parents, students, and financial planners began following me in numbers greater than I ever expected. Out of the more than 50 debt-free college articles I wrote that year, here are the top 10 that were most popular with my followers.

If you missed any of these, here’s your chance to catch up! Read to the bottom of this list to see the #1 most popular article I wrote all year.

#10. Hilarious Idea Makes Kids Eager to Apply for Scholarships

#9. Danger Ahead: Don’t Get This Kind of Student Loan

debt-free college articles

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5 Good Reasons to Take a Gap Year (And 2 Bad Ones)

Your child doesn’t seem quite ready for college yet. Would it be a good idea for him or her to take a gap year? Malia Obama did it, after all. Here are 5 good and 2 bad reasons for students to take a gap year between high school and college.

gap year

5 Good Reasons to Take a Gap Year

1. <Good Reason> Your son’s fallen into a pattern of being unwilling to work hard in high school.

Has he gotten mediocre grades? Is he dragging his feet on filling out college applications and applying for scholarships? Taking a gap year where he lives in a tiny studio apartment and works for peanuts can actually teach valuable life lessons that no college program can.

2. <Good Reason> It could do your son great good to learn what life without education or job training is actually like.

Here’s a good line for parents to practice saying: “Well, you’re welcome to live here at home with us, as long as you’re enrolled in (and succeeding in) a full time academic or job training program. If you’re going to stay out of college and work during this gap year, let’s go find you a small apartment you can rent!”

The struggle to pay for rent, food, transportation, and a cell phone may help your son feel eager to apply to (and work hard in) college or technical school at the next possible opportunity.

For more help on this subject, see this article I wrote on the 7 things every parent should carefully think through anytime kids over 18 ask to–or expect to–live with you.

3. <Good Reason> Colleges will still accept a student who takes a gap year. No problem.

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Genius Strategy for Giving $20 in COLLEGE SAVINGS As Holiday Gifts

I post this important article every December. This year, it contains a brand new resource! A free downloadable bonus article with super helpful information for grandparents. To get straight to the free downloadable article, click here:

How to Give College Savings As Gifts and Get Happy Hugs in Response

Most grandparents love to dote on their beloved grandchildren, but let’s face it. Older kids and teens are notoriously hard to shop for.

How can grandparents give a relatively inexpensive holiday gift that will be remembered with tears and great appreciation for years down the line?

No matter your income level or budget, Grandma and Grandpa, here’s an ingenious idea for deeply impacting the kids you love this holiday season.

grandma

This idea will help you to take the $20 you were planning to spend on a holiday gift, easily put that money into the best possible kind of college savings account, and still have something meaningful and beautiful for the child or teen to unwrap at your family’s holiday gathering.

All without nicking your own finances or damaging the teen’s future financial aid eligibility in any way.

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One Call Can Increase Admissions Chances 40%

Weeks or months after your daughter has finished up all her college applications, you may find yourself wondering, “Is there anything else she can do to increase admissions chances — well after her applications have been submitted?”

Yes there is.

Research shows that one phone call can increase admissions chances 40% at many colleges.

increase admissions chances

How can a phone call increase admissions chances?

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Got a Big Problem With Standardized Testing?

Here's Help.

Has your child taken the SAT or the ACT multiple times — but never scored anywhere near his or her ability level? This happens more often than you think. Some students just don’t do well with standardized testing, no matter how hard they try. Even though they’re going to make great college students and end up having wonderful careers.

So — what’s a parent to do?

standardized testing

You could try an inexpensive, self-paced prep course, or —

You might look at colleges that don’t require standardized testing.

There’s a growing sentiment across the US that standardized testing doesn’t actually help in the admissions process. More and more colleges every year are saying, “We don’t even want to look at standardized tests anymore.”

You can find a complete, alphabetized list of all the US colleges that don’t require standardized tests on Fairtest.org. There’s a massive number of them.

(Just stay away from “for-profit” colleges. To determine whether a college is “for profit” or not, look up its name on collegedata.com for free. If you see the word “PROFIT” in the search bar, pass that college up.)

Many very good colleges don’t look at standardized tests.

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Is It True You “Can’t Look At Your Kids’ College Grades”?

You’re bleeding money to pay for your son’s college. You hope he’s attending class, studying for exams, and getting help when he’s stuck. But is he? Some people say that you can never know for sure, because, “parents aren’t allowed to look at their kids’ college grades.” Is this actually true, though?

college grades

Nope. It’s not true at all.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. It is true that because of FERPA laws enacted in 1974, colleges can’t show you — or tell you — any academic information about your child. But here’s what can happen. Your child can tell you himself. The college student you love can log you in and show you that he or she is OK.

“But what if my kid doesn’t want to show me his college grades?”

Here’s my suggestion. Wait until he asks you for money.

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