The College Solutions Blog

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

College Abacus
Featured image for “How to Spot a Lousy Net Price Calculator”
November 4, 2013

How to Spot a Lousy Net Price Calculator

As I’ve mentioned in previous college blog posts, net price calculators allow you to obtain a personalized estimate of what a school will cost after deducting any scholarships and grants that your child might be receiving. Before you let your child apply to any colleges, make sure you have used each school’s net price calculator. Unfortunately, not all calculators are...
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October 9, 2013

College Abacus: A One-Stop Shop for Net Price Calculators

Today I’m sharing a conversation that I had yesterday with Amy Seldin, the founder of College Abacus. College Abacus is the place that I’d recommend heading to when you want to use any college or university’s net price calculator. If you don’t know what a net price calculator is, here is a brief description: A net price calculator will provide...
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October 7, 2013

Try Out These 19 College Apps

Last week I drove up to Costa Mesa, CA, to attend the launching of an ambitious lineup of 19 online and mobile apps that could revolutionize the way families make college decisions. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provided the seed money for the 19 apps that began as a contest designed to encourage entrepreneurs and app developers to build...
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September 23, 2013

Random Thoughts from a College Conference

I was in Toronto for the past several days attending the annual monster conference of the National Association for College Admission Counselors. I was a presenter with a couple of my friends – Paula Bishop and Cyndy McDonald – at a pre-conference, which I hope was beneficial for those who attended. I can’t recall ever sharing the microphone with anybody...
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April 10, 2013

A Teenager’s Merit Scholarship Offers

The Guardian newspaper in London published an article last week that suggests that children of upper-middle-class families are having to attend public universities because they are too affluent to receive need-based aid and they aren’t getting scholarship from private institutions. What the reporter, who happens to be the wife of Bill Keller, the former editor of The New York Times,...
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March 29, 2013

College Abacus: Deciphering Financial Aid Letters

In my last three posts, I’ve written about deciphering financial aid letters. As I’ve mentioned previously, I believe colleges and universities intentionally make these documents hard to understand. If you missed the posts where I griped about this reality, here they are: What’s Wrong With This Financial Aid Letter? Evaluating a Financial Aid Award The federal government has created a...
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March 27, 2013

A Financial Aid Letter That Gets It Right

Many colleges do a horrible job of presenting their financial aid awards in an easy-to-understand way.  As I’ve been explaining in my last two posts, I believe this is largely intentional: What’s Wrong With This Financial Aid Letter Evaluating a Financial Aid Award Recognizing this shameful behavior, the federal government has created a financial aid template called the Shopping Sheet....
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October 24, 2012

A Great New Tool to Pinpoint Financial Aid Awards

Earlier this year, I wrote a college blog post after hearing from an affluent mom in Washington state named Lynne, who used 66 net price calculators (!!) to determine which schools would offer the best awards to her bright daughter. Making Cost Comparisons a Snap It can take a long time to using these invaluable net price calculators and clearly...
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