Getting An Early Financial Aid Verdict

Have you ever heard of a college prereading an application?
Probably not, but in this scary economic climate, prereads could become commonplace.

I learned about prereads last week when I was reporting on a package of stories for a national media outlet on various financial aid strategies. When the articles are published in a month, I’ll provide the links from my blog.

So what’s a preread?  A preread allows a high school senior to learn before ever officially applying to a school whether he or she has a shot at a healthy financial aid package or merit award.

One of the schools which is now doing prereads is Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. Chris Hooker-Haring, the school’s dean of admission and financial aid, told me that he’d have a good idea of the type of financial aid package or merit money a student would receive if he had just a few pieces of information. Those would be the student’s grades, SAT scores and his or her activities while in high school. It would also be helpful if the family had already completed the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE, which is the financial aid document that many selective private schools require.

If you’re interested in particular schools, call them up and see if they can give you an idea of what kind of financial help, if any, you might receive if you ultimately apply. Getting an early informal verdict would be extremely helpful to any student who is eager to attend an expensive private school, but is frightened of the cost. It seems pointless to get a teenager’s hopes up if the school isn’t going to discount its price.

Hooker-Haring predicts that prereads are going to become increasingly available on college campuses.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution.

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