Posts by CelticCollegeConsultants

Raise.me – Scholarships or Sham???

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

Raise.me – Scholarships or Sham???   Raise.me 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… Raise.me 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, Raise.me 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 Raise.me 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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Is Your Senior Thinking About College?

By on Aug 18, 2017 in Blog |

Is Your Senior Thinking About College?Senior year is an important time in a teenager’s life. It is the last year of high school and college is just around the corner. For many teens, this is a time when they start to think about adulthood and what they wish to be when they ‘grow up’. Is your senior thinking about college? Have you talked to them about where they might like to apply or what they wish to study? As parents, it is important to discuss such issues with your child and determine a path in which to begin their college career once high school comes to an end. Consider CollegesStart the conversation with your teen about where they are interested in attending college. Visit the campus of local universities or colleges to help your child get to know the process of going to school after high school. Talk about the degree interests of your child and what they might wish to study. This will help when considering schools as you might find universities nearby that offer specialized degree programs based on the course of study your child is interested in. Look at the admissions timetable of colleges where your child is interested so that you do not miss any application deadlines for scholarships or entry. This is also a good time to consider funding. Take a look at the cost based on the college of choice to determine how you will pay for schooling, be it federal aid, loan, scholarship, etc. Prep ServicesIt can also be beneficial to seek professional assistance with college prep for your senior. If this is the first child you are sending off to college, you most likely have no idea what to do or where to start. Working with such services as provided by Celtic College Consultants of California will help you get on the right path to preparing your senior for a college...

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ZeeMee – a Visual Way to Present Yourself to Admissions

By on Jul 18, 2017 in Blog |

ZeeMee is a new way for students to showcase themselves for admissions.  A growing number of colleges are including the option of connecting a ZeeMee.com profile to your application. Students include information about themselves (their “elevator pitch” or 60 second highlight summary, 3-5 of their activities with pictures, videos, or documents, a professional photo, and their story.  They can also create a 30-90 second “Meet Me” video. Last year was the first year that some admissions departments included ZeeMee as an option.  The feedback they gave is that they appreciated the opportunity to get to know the personality of the applicants better.  This year, over 200 colleges will be including this option.  While admissions teams are sorting out how to best include reviewing ZeeMee in their application review process, the initial expectation is that they will take between one and three minutes to view a profile. Some tips for students.  Keep your profile positive and professional.  Be yourself, especially in your video.  Admissions are adept at noticing when a student is not being him or herself so don’t try to be someone you are not.  Minor mistakes in your video are OK.  A perfect video would be suspect, unless your resume includes lots of experience and expertise in video creation.  Including a quick testimonial in your video is ok. There are sample videos on ZeeMee; these will give you an idea. You can start creating your profile any time after you turn 13. Then use it as a place to document and memorialize your accomplishments throughout high school, including accomplishments at school, work, athletics, competitions, and your life in general.  As always, be careful to not use buzzwords or abbreviations.  You may know what the KofC picnic is, but admissions won’t. I have mixed feelings about this.  For those capable of pulling together a decent video, I think it’s a great option.  For those who are not, I think it would be best to skip this.  However, it IS an opportunity for a student with a special ability which is not directly related to their major area of interest, to showcase that. For example, a student who hopes to play for the marching band but not major in music.  Or for an athlete who loves their sport but isn’t looking to be recruited.  Or for students who do atypical things –...

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Preparing for College

By on Jul 12, 2017 in Blog |

Preparing for CollegeCollege is often considered a milestone by many people – and that’s why it’s important not only for students to prepare but for their families as well. There are a lot of factors involved in going to college: figuring out how one is going to pay fees, finding accommodation (if the college doesn’t necessarily provide on-campus accommodation to all students) and of course, going through the mental steps of preparing for one of the biggest changes in life. College Prep ServicesCollege prep services are designed to help both students and their families consider the road ahead and prepare for it, whether it be financial, practically or on an emotional level. Some of this may involve financial advice, but counseling is also a part of the package depending on what you’re looking for. Some points can involve: Taking a look at the admissions timetable of colleges so that everything is in order and no deadlines are missed. ACT/SAT registration (if that hasn’t been done already). Academic resume consultation: this can be a particularly long process depending on what the prospective student has done, so it is a good idea to have an organized professional take a look through everything and see what the best points are that will stand out. College Fund PlanningCollege fund planning is to ensure that finances are managed in a smart way to ensure that all fees are paid on time and unnecessary debts aren’t gathered. This is particularly important for low-income families who can highly benefit from strategic income and asset planning. It will help students see what sort of aid they can get from government and private institutions and provide information about things like grants, scholarships and the different types of reduced-interest loans that are sometimes available to first-time and mature...

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