Valuable insights from Lynn O’Shaughnessy
a nationally recognized college expert.
July 11, 2022
CollegeData: Evaluating A College’s Financial Aid and Merit Scholarships
How do you research financial aid and merit scholarships that a student might get at individual colleges and universities? With college sticker prices continuing to climb, it’s an important question to ask because the financial aid and merit award policies at schools will vary widely. Not knowing how to research the generosity or stinginess of individual colleges can cost you...
March 4, 2022
TuitionFit: How to find better college award offers in minutes
By now, most students, who will be college freshmen in the fall, have received their award letters from colleges. Families, however, are at a disadvantage when they look at these college awards. They typically have no idea if the offer of financial aid or a merit scholarship is a good one. Families don’t know if teenagers with similar financial circumstances...
January 11, 2022
Reach, target and safety schools: Don’t slip when creating a smart college list
A critical part of the college search process is creating an excellent list of colleges, which often includes reach, target and safety schools. Families often slip badly on this extremely important yet tricky task of pulling together a solid college list. If a teenager creates a problematic list, parents can easily pay too much money for college. One of the...
December 2, 2021
Quick way to capture a 529 tax break when a student is in college
An easy way for you to cut your college costs can be as easy as depositing money into a 529 account for just 24 hours. After moving money into a 529 account, many savers can quickly turn around and withdraw the cash to pay for their child’s college tuition and other qualified expenses. Here’s why you would want to make...
November 24, 2021
How grandparents can help with college costs without hurting financial aid chances
Upcoming changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will make it easier for grandparents, aunts and uncles, godparents and anyone else outside the nuclear family to help with college costs without hurting eligibility for financial aid. Before explaining the change, it’s important to understand what the situation is right now. Currently, parents are supposed to share on...
October 19, 2021
Applying early decision and early action, part II
In my last college blog post, I wrote about the pros and cons of applying to college early decision. Here is more to consider before you apply early decision or early action to college: 1. While students who apply early decision to a college must promise to attend the school, as a practical matter, a college can’t force an accepted...
October 19, 2021
18 things to know about applying early decision to college
Applying early decision to college is often a highly effective way to increase the odds of getting accepted at many schools that offer this admission option. At plenty of colleges, applying early action can also boost admission odds. Not surprisingly then, teenagers are increasingly applying early decision and early action to schools and the pandemic helped escalate this trend. Applying...
September 7, 2021
Writing a great college essay
I’ve read many college essays over the years and the vast majority of them have been b-o-r-i-n-g. Unlike a great college essay, the bad essays have been guilty of one or more of these essay no-no’s: 1. The college essay lacked details. 2. The admission essay didn’t convey the student’s voice. 3. The essay covered too much territory. (Writing about...
June 30, 2021
How colleges assess home equity for financial aid
Plenty of parents worry that their home equity might hurt their child’s chances for financial aid. Luckily, at most state and private colleges and universities, the equity in your primary home is a non-issue. That’s because most schools only require families to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) when applying for financial aid, which doesn’t even ask...
May 25, 2021
12 Expected Family Contribution Tips
One of the biggest questions that parents with college-bound children puzzle with is if their child has a chance for financial aid. The first step that you should take when grappling with this issue is to obtain your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). You should do this before seriously exploring your teenager’s college options. This is more confusing than you might...