Spending Money To Save Money?

Why investing in a college advisor can LOWER your stress level…and your cost.

By Deb Coco

There is an old adage stating “you must spend money to make money.”  In the world of college admissions it’s really no different.  Investing in a qualified college advisor before embarking on this process will all but guarantee you a lower bill – and a better fit – in the end.

College costs garner a sentence or two in most of my blogs.  We’ve just completed another admissions cycle and once again, we are bowled over by the leap in tuition prices – as admissions counselors we ask ourselves “when will the madness end?!”  There are now dozens of colleges costing more than $70,000 A YEAR.  You read that right.  So a four-year education is beginning to creep up on the $300,000 mark.  That’s the cost of a lovely home.  Most families, however, have more than one child, so multiply that by two or three and it’s extremely frightening, and completely unnecessary to pay that much.  In fact, it’s not just the cost of college that has made things difficult, the entire admissions process has become increasingly complex

At The College Advisor of New York, our goal is to provide our families with peace of mind.  Every year, this process becomes more complicated and this year took it to a new level.  We saw multiple changes this admissions cycle that, if you were in the dark, could have been the difference between a fat acceptance envelope and a flat-out rejection.

What changed?  Well for starters, this cycle became significantly more competitive.  Some schools saw their application numbers TRIPLE . . .so if your child had convinced themselves they wouldn’t be able to go on unless they were admitted to Villanova and you applied in their Early Action pool, you probably made a huge mistake right out of the gate.  We would have steered you in the right direction and advised your child based on their statistics and our inside knowledge, not on what your neighbor told you they’d heard from their sister-in-law.

Another game changer . . .the SAT underwent a significant overhaul for this year and many students saw their scores increase significantly.  Seems great, right?  Well, because the SAT was reformulated and thus re-normed, the resulting higher scores were simply a case of  “score inflation” and most colleges – especially selective ones – treated the results accordingly.  How did this play out for students submitting these scores?  By working with a college consultant, you’d have known how the old SAT was being weighed in comparison with the new SAT and we’d have advised you accordingly.  Inside knowledge of the SAT vs. the ACT along with s strong test prep tutor takes the smoke and mirrors out of what, for many, is the most stressful part of this process.

Another factor contributing to major amounts of confusion this year was the change in the financial aid deadlines.  This forced applicants and their parents to be ready with their paperwork at the same time as the Early Action deadlines.  If you were unprepared it was unbelievably stressful.  Our families were not only aware, but prepared and on time with the necessary forms.

Last but not least, was the advent of a new application format – the Coalition Application.  This threw a monkey wrench into an already complicated and layered process and forced families to question if the schools on their student’s list took:   A. The Common Application, B. The Coalition Application or C. the school’s own application.  Yes, it’s that crazy.  Most college advisors were able to guide their students through this maze of application madness.

Confused?  Many people are and with good reason.  However if you work with a college admissions consultant your child won’t be left taking tests unnecessarily, using the wrong application or applying to a college that is clearly either not for them or out of their target range.  More importantly, parents will have financial peace of mind because we understand the “ins and outs” of the financial aid process better than just about anyone in the country.  Making a mistake calculating your EFC can be costly, and with four-year costs ranging from $100,000 to almost $300,000, investing in a college admissions consultant is a smart choice.