The College Solutions Blog

Valuable insights from Lynn O’Shaughnessy
a nationally recognized college expert.

Featured image for “Quick way to capture a 529 tax break when a student is in college”
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...
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Featured image for “How grandparents can help with college costs without hurting financial aid chances”
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...
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Featured image for “Applying early decision and early action, part II”
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...
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Featured image for “18 things to know about applying early decision to college”
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...
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Featured image for “Writing a great college essay”
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...
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Featured image for “How colleges assess home equity for financial aid”
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...
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Featured image for “12 Expected Family Contribution Tips”
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...
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Featured image for “Finding colleges offering big scholarships”
April 21, 2021

Finding colleges offering big scholarships

It’s late in the college admission season, but schools are still giving out college scholarships to those who know where to look. The pandemic caused many colleges to provide better scholarships than they would have liked. And actually, some schools, long before the pandemic hit, were giving out large merit scholarships. I wrote about one aspect of this phenomenon earlier...
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Featured image for “Looking beyond highly rejective colleges to get better deals”
April 13, 2021

Looking beyond highly rejective colleges to get better deals

As usual, the highly rejective colleges** have attracted the most media attention during this latest admission season. The Ivies, Stanford, MIT, Duke, Northwestern, USC and other highly rejective colleges outdid themselves this year by crushing the college dreams of an historic number of applicants. What gets lost in this slavish attention to the nation’s highly rejective schools is the inside...
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Featured image for “Taking advantage of today’s college admission landscape”
March 10, 2021

Taking advantage of today’s college admission landscape

Earlier this month, I discussed the current college admission landscape with Mark Salisbury, the creator of TuitionFit, a nonprofit that’s been compared to the Kelly Blue Book of college pricing. We shared our thoughts about what happened to college admission landscape last year and also shared our predictions about what will happen to college admissions in 2021. If you are...
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