Before You File For Financial Aid

January 1, 2016 the FAFSA will roll out. This application is required to utilize federal financial aid for which you or your student may qualify. This year the first step, logging into your account to apply, has changed. It affects the high school class of 2016 and even older students already in college who are applying for aid beyond the freshman year of college. Yes, the FAFSA must be completed every year you are in college and intend to use federal aid, including the Stafford Unsubsidized Loan which even students with no financial need can utilize. To obtain aid for … Continue reading

Redesigned ACT & SAT: How It Affects YOU!

The ACT had some minor changes starting with the reading portion in December 2014, then in February 2015 to the science portion, followed by an overhaul of the writing test in September 2015. That massive shift with the writing test left many seniors retesting in the fall of their senior year caught between two different versions of the writing test and frankly, dazed and confused. In April 2014, CollegeBoard announced a massive overhaul of the SAT test to “deliver opportunity” to underserved students, or was it to financially catch back up to the ACT who overtook them in 2012?  Regardless, … Continue reading

Will Super Scoring Help with College Admission?

As scores rolled in, students started asking us IF they should retest.  I wrote about this previously in our post Who Should take the ACT or SAT Again?  Since that article, ACT has updated their statistics on who actually improves on a second attempt.  Overall, 57% of students will improve. To see your odds, according to ACT data which differs from students who prep with LEAP, consult the chart on the ACT site. While considering whether to retest or not, the option of Super Scoring should be taken into consideration for students who already have two or more testing attempts on the same test. What is … Continue reading

Critical Deadlines on the College Bound Journey

If you plan to send your child to a four-year college living on campus, your investment will likely be over $100,000 without any gift aid in the form of scholarships and grants. This is based on the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2015).  Private schools run higher than the $23,872 of all four-year institutes at $35,074. Educating your children could likely be your most expensive investment outside of owning a home. Because of this, it is worthy of planning a careful, thorough and measured as a home purchase or your own retirement and savings to garner an excellent return … Continue reading

White, Upper Middle Class and on a DIVERSITY Scholarship

How does a white, Catholic, upper middle class, Midwestern young lady achieve a full-tuition DIVERSITY scholarship at a highly selective university? It started with a 10th grade resume review. I’ve preached it to my college counseling students for over a decade, “Put your resume together early in high school.” Review it to identify opportunities to be Purposeful about your Pursuits while you focus on Longevity and Leadership. Not everyone takes me up on my advice, but those who do get the following benefits and an extra with a big bang possible! Assistance in thinking about future careers Brainstorming of topics for … Continue reading

Risky Business: The ACT-SAT Optional Writing Test

Given the opportunity what teenager wouldn’t rather skip writing a 40 or 50-minute essay? The adolescent me would have jumped at the chance. The college counselor I am today hopes someone would have stopped me. Much to the disappointment of teenagers, LEAP‘s recommendation is to take the optional writing test each and every time. Yes, EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. The financial cost of doing so will increase your testing fees by $11.50 (SAT) or $17 (ACT – which is cheaper than the non-writing SAT). The potential opportunity cost of not opting in could be missing out on the college of your dreams. … Continue reading

The Two Week Rule

This time of year many seniors are feeling behind on applications. As we step in to assist, there’s the reminder of a fairly consistent rule on the college bound journey: 2 weeks. Regardless of where you are on the journey, keep this rule in mind and know with each step along the way, you ought to at least 2 weeks. College Visits: The general rule of thumb is to plan no less than 2 weeks in advance. It isn’t unusual for special visit days to fill sooner than that. The early bird gets the worm! Testing Registration: While we encourage students … Continue reading

The Expensive Choice of Testing Prior to Prep

Expense can be calculated in the terms of time and money. Taking the ACT or SAT for a “trial run” before embarking on test prep and serious testing is a costly mistake. LEAP’s proven approach since 1999 is as follows: Take a prep course – we hope you’ll choose LEAP! Take the first attempt at the ACT and/or SAT. Analyze scores and decide which test to retest on. 57% of students increase on a second attempt. If necessary (not always the case), do additional prep (LEAP offers individualized tutoring) to strengthen weak areas on the test. Retest on the ACT … Continue reading

The Redesigned PSAT for 2015

You took the PSAT in October 2014 as a sophomore as practice for the “real thing” in October 2015 in the junior year when it counts for National Merit only to find out the 2015 is completely overhauled and redesigned. Insert sigh. So what’s new and can be expected on either October 14 or 28, 2015? It’s longer! The new PSAT is 35 minutes longer than the old version. It still lacks an essay section, but has been expanded to 2 hours and 45 minutes; it’s almost as long as the multiple choice new SAT which debuts in March 2016, so it’s good practice for … Continue reading

Senior Alert: CSS/Financial Aid Profile Available 10/1

LEAP welcomes the return of our partner and guest blogger, Beatrice Schultz with Westface College Planning in the San Francisco area. She’s an expert on planning how to pay for college and getting a great return on your investment.   The CSS Profile is the form YOU need to complete to qualify and maximize non-federal financial aid from the almost 300 colleges who require it. While not as commonly used as theFAFSA, for those colleges that do use it, completing the CSS Profile is a requirement to qualify for any non-federal financial aid, and who doesn’t want some extra money … Continue reading

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