Posts by CelticCollegeConsultants

How to Use your PSAT Score to Find Scholarships

By on Jan 30, 2018 in Blog |

Recently, the College Board modified their scoring system such that the PSAT score is now an estimate of your SAT score.  There are numerous tables available to help you convert the SAT to an ACT or CLT score.  With this information, there is a lot that can be done. Identify Prospective Colleges Identify Possible Academic Merit Scholarships Strategically plan out your testing schedule for the rest of high school Set Goals for SAT & ACT &CLT scores Decide when and whether to take SAT subject tests Decide whether or not to take AP courses in the future For now, we’ll focus on: How to you use test scores to look for scholarships There are two major types of scholarships.  First there are private scholarships, which are those scholarships offered by private organizations like Coca Cola, Walmart, etc.  Most of these scholarships require essays or projects to be prepared and submitted along with an application.  Careful research to identify and track these opportunities needs to be done.  Tracking the scholarships you may be eligible for you will be key to accumulating funds for college.  Be aware, however, that private scholarships are considered resources by the financial aid eligibility calculators; they reduce need based aid dollar for dollar.  Consequently, determination of that impact needs to be done first. The other type of scholarship is called institutional scholarships. These scholarhsips come from the colleges and universities themselves.  The good news is that they comprise 93% of the scholarship dollars and, since they are the colleges’ own funds, can be distributed as the colleges wish. Remember the middle 50% of test scores we discussed earlier?  Let’s take a look at a few examples from Every Catholic’s Guide to College, a college guide I compiled for practicing Catholics (available on  Like all college guides, it includes a great deal of information for each college, including the middle 50% of the test scores. Arizona State University 510-630/520-640 or 23-28 Drake University 520-670/550- 690 or 24-30 Ferris State University 19-24 or 910–1110 combined SAT New York University 610–710/630–740 or 28-32 The evidence based reading & writing score is always listed first, followed by the math score.  Be aware that some places are still using the old CR/M notation.  When the College Board revised the SAT, the critical...

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Why Our Kids Can’t Work Their Way Through College Like We Did

By on Sep 28, 2017 in Blog |

Recently, Julie Mack wrote an excellent article  (What many older people don’t realize about college costs today).  She points out (with great charts!) a number of factors that contribute to the challenge high school students face today.  In the ‘60s, ’70s, and ‘80s, students could work their way through college.  However, that opportunity is no longer available.  Let’s look, briefly, at why. Tuition was considerably cheaper.  It has quadrupled, even after factoring in inflation.  For public universities, approximately 70% of their funds came from state funding.  Now, only 23% do. Adjusted for inflation, the 2001 Michigan state subsidy was 68% greater than the 2017 subsidy.  The Michigan House Fiscal Agency calculated that between 60% and 80% of the tuition increases between 2000 and 2013 could be attributed to cuts in state funding. Financial aid is different now.  In 1975, loans comprised 17% of financial aid.  Now, federal loans account for 42% of aid (some sources report an even higher percentage.)  The maximum Pell grant in 1975 covered ALL of tuition AND some room and board expenses.  The current maximum Pell grant will cover less than half of the tuition costs at a public university. Social Securitystopped paying benefits to students who had lost a parent in 1982.  In 1975, Social Security paid more money to US college students than Pell grants did.  Scholarship monies have significantly decreased, with some need based scholarships that used to cover full tuition costs now only cover $1,000. Working during college is FAR less lucrative.  The high paying factory jobs collegians could work during the summers and earn enough to cover the next year’s college costs, are gone.  The jobs college students can get now typically pay minimum wage, half (or less) of what students in the 1970s earned.  IIf you are interested in lowering your college costs, I invite you to schedule a consultation with me.  Over the past 13 years working with families all over the US, I have identified the key factors that need to be addressed in order to lower college costs and increase college funding.  My Class of 2017 students were offered over $243,000 each, on average, in college scholarships.  As wonderful as that is, it’s only part of the expertise I bring to each client’s situation.  Working holistically, I am able to guide students to college success.  Here’s how I define that:   ...

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Get in the Groove to Succeed at Life (and School)!!

By on Aug 24, 2017 in Blog, Newest Article |

Get in the Groove to Succeed at Life (and School)!!   As I see it, we humans have two choices.  We can do the things that will make us successful, or we can be miserable.  For those who aren’t sure, please watch: 7 Ways to be Miserable  Then you’ll see just how to ruin, eh hmmm, improve your life. In fact, setting clearly defined goals and a set daily rhythm is a  GREAT way to start your school year.  Even the most accomplished among us can improve their way of life, so take a few minutes to explore – What’s my sleep cycle like?  If you’d like to reek havoc on your life, be more depressed and less productive, have an irregular sleep cycle.  Keep your body confused about when to rest and when to rise, and you’ll be more miserable by the day.  Happily, it only takes three days/nights to “reset” your body clock.  So, determine the optimum time to arise in the morning, count back 8 1/2 hours, and set that as your bedtime.  The MOST important set time in your day is your bedtime.  Give yourself half an hour to wrap up your day and get ready for bed, then let your head fall gently on your pillow.  If you need more sleep, adjust the plan accordingly. Do I ever get moving?  Feeling good involves getting your motor running.  Just pouring coffee down your throat to wash down your sugar laden “breakfast” will not do the trick.  God gave us bodies on purpose.  In order to get our minds working, able to focus and concentrate, settle our moods, slow down our fidgets, get out and walk, run, swim, bike, etc.  Take a good half hour every morning to move your body.  Then, take a refreshing shower, eat a decent breakfast (which you’ll be more interested in after exercising than you typically are), and get on with your day. Is silence my friend?  Our worlds are NOISY!!!  I can’t get a moment to clear my head, can you??  Integrating time in silence each day is calming, centering, and enables our minds to rest.  Meditation or prayer or Scriptural or spiritual reading can be part of this time, but they...

Read More – Scholarships or Sham???

By on Aug 24, 2017 in Blog, Newest Article | – Scholarships or Sham??? sounds great!  Who doesn’t want to be rewarded for their efforts?  The idea of getting “micro-scholarships” for getting good grades, etc. sounds ideal.  A little too ideal, perhaps.  Let’s take a look… was founded in 2012.  It’s a site where students can create a profile and enter in their achievements.  Participating colleges (there are over 200 so far) promise students micro-scholarships based on their achievements (getting an A in a class, for example) starting in the 9th grade.  Of course, the students must be accepted at a given school in order to “receive” the micro-scholarships based on his or her raise.meaccount. On the one hand, students are encouraged to do well throughout their high school careers by receiving the promise of awards.  Hopefully, this will encourage students to excel in their studies.  Students are rewarded for good grades, community service, working, taking tests (PSAT, ACT, AP, SAT, etc.), and extracurricular activities. On the other, the pressure of looming college applications is now obvious to students at an earlier age.  Some argue that this program puts too much pressure on younger students who should be exploring, etc.  However, by freshman year in college, I believe students should be maturing and developing a strong sense of cause and effect and the impact that their choices of today make on the opportunities, or lack thereof, of tomorrow. Colleges pay a fee to participate. Apparently, is a mechanism they can use to attract students.  Colleges set the value of the various rewards, or micro-scholarships they offer, so have a way to attract the attention of students and compete with other colleges for their attention.  After all, who doesn’t think well of a school after seeing the message pop up that says, “Great job!  $500 from XYZ University for you!” I am unable to find any information regarding how the scholarships relate to the overall financial aid package.  Based on my experience as a college consultant, I am skeptical that students with accounts are receiving any more aid than they would have if they had not had an account. So, the information regarding Raise.Me is inconclusive.  it might be a helpful tool to encourage a student, but will it have any real impact on the...

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FAFSA, More Changes 2017

By on Aug 24, 2017 in Blog, Newest Article |

FAFSA, More Changes 2017  The only thing true about college is that things are always changing. The DRT/Data Retrieval Tool was introduced a few years ago to help families pull information from their tax returns into the FAFSA forms.  It was designed to eliminate the need for verification since the information was coming directly from the IRS.  However, there were significant security issues last year.  So, the DRT was turned off and many FAFSA filers were not able to use it. In the interim, the IRS and Department of Education made changes in order to “enhance the security and privacy of the sensitive personal data transferred into the FAFSA form from the IRS.”  Starting this year, the information brought over will be encrypted.  Users will be unable to see the data when they access their tax forms with the DRT and the information will remain encrypted when it is transferred to the FAFSA.  The data entry fields will show “Transferred from the IRS” instead of the data.  The colleges will be able to see the actual data and make any adjustments required. Since the information will be encrypted, some changes need to be made both in the “income earned from work” questions and in the instance of IRA rollovers.  Because the FAFSA formula gives an allowance for the extra costs incurred when both parents are working, parents have to enter in how much each made from working.  In the past, the combined income was transferred from the joint tax return.  Now, the amount earned from work by each parent will need to be entered in manually.  In the event of IRA rollovers, parents (and students, if applicable) will need to indicate whether or not an IRA distribution includes a rollover.  If it does, the amount of the rollover will need to be indicated.  The processor will then deduct the amount “rolled over” from the total in the income calculations. One problematic outcome of this change is that the correlation between income and the EFC will not be evident since the income data will be encrypted.  Manual calculations will be necessary.  If you need help in this regard, please contact Katherine O’Brien directly...

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