Example - College Ed Xpress monthly e-newsletter.

Do you have children that are college-bound high school juniors or seniors?

If so, you’ll want to subscribe to the highly-acclaimed, monthly e-newsletter: College Ed Xpress

Here is why:

Each month College Ed Xpress delivers relevant, actionable and concise information, specifically for parents of high school seniors and juniors.

Virtually all college literature on the topics of college admissions and financial aid are targeted to the student; leaving the parents - who generally paying most of the bills - stumbling in the dark.

College Ed Xpress is perfect for families whether they are just beginning or are in the midst of the complex, confusing, time consuming, stress-inducing, often-times bizarre and counter-intuitive college admissions and financial aid process.

College Ed Xpress won’t overwhelm you with irrelevant information. it is the ONLY college admissions and financial aid e-newsletter that delivers what you need to know, in the form of actionable information, when you need to know it - not too soon and not too late!


Date: May, 2016

Dear Parent,

May 1 is National Decision Day. You took a final look at you child's top choice(s); had a soul-searching conversation about cost, and perhaps visited with financial aid. Finally, the decision was made and the deposit sent. After what must have seemed like an eternity, it's done. Congratulations! Savor the flavor while you can. No one's earned it more than you! Ahem, I mean your student!

If things didn't go your child's way, you can take comfort in this: The majority of students that went to a college other than their first choice, by the end of their sophomore year, couldn't imagine having gone anyplace else.

Parents' Out-of-Pocket

I have yet to meet a parent who was happy with the price they have to pay for their child's college education. So I'm going to demonstrate how you can instantly identify $20,000 for college without causing any major lifestyle changes.

Most parents had to make significant sacrifices for the benefit of their children. That doesn't end when you send them off to college. By the time we reach our forties, we kind of "get it" that buying stuff isn't the key to making us happier people. Keeping that in mind there's still time to forge a strategy that can reduce the strain of meeting college costs.

The first thing to do is painless. Most parents qualify for the educational tax credits, which will put $2,500 per year into your college checkbook. The second is so obvious that I hesitate even mentioning it. The expenses of raising a child are simply carried over to the college years. A conservative amount is $4,000. Combine the two and right off the bat you've come up with 6,500!

The next requires a little work but not on your part. If your teen works this summer keeps $1,000 to pay for books, so you're up to $7,500. The next few suggestions ask for a few minor lifestyle adjustments.

People have habits that cost money. Some use tobacco products, some buy beer and martinis, some fancy cars. The ones I'm thinking of have us indulging ourselves in things that only cost a few dollars a day. Starbucks is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. Instead of buying a grande or vente, you could buy yourself a pound of your favorite bean and brew a couple of cups before you leave for work. That will save you about $900 per year (not including tips). Even if you don't drink coffee, there are treats we buy outside the home to eat or drink that cost as much or more than a cup of java or tea. Look at fast this cash is piling up. Your running total is now $8,400.

Make a call to your insurance agent, your cable, internet and cell phone provider. Downgrade some of the services you know you can live without. Considering all of the choices available with which we can entertain ourselves, you can save $1,500 per year using only what you need. Why not ditch the cable bill entirely by hooking up an Amazon Fire TV Stick? Ka-Ching! $12,000!

Now for the tricky part. If you can commit $250 from your monthly income you will have $15,000 for college. Start with a lower amount and work your way up. It's amazing how many things we buy without thinking or for perceived convenience. Surely, there must be some food markets within driving distance that offer off-brands for very good prices? Do you have an Aldi's or similar store nearby? If you do you'll find many of your favorite food items (and some brand names, too) for almost half of what you pay at your typical grocery store. Make the effort. It's no hardship. Perhaps a little inconvenient but the money you'll save is more than likely worth it. You can routinely save as much as $400 per month. Remember, you're not only doing this for your kids but for your retirement, too! Depending on your lifestyle and desire to make these sacrifices, family vacations could be downsized, too.

If you can see yourself camping at a nearby state or national park it just might save you more than money; it could help bring your family closer. Go ahead and roll the calendar back 20 years. Fewer devices = fewer distractions. Even if you just scale it back a bit you now have over $20,000 for college.

Wow! That's almost $80,000 over four years. You can do it if you want.

Lastly, if it's appropriate, consider consolidating some debt by refinancing your home. Visit Feed the Pig for more ideas.

Almost Rising High School Seniors

    If you are planning on taking a low-expense summer vacation (why not start now), see if there are colleges you can visit along the way. Campus visits give your student a chance to see themselves on campus, imagining what it would be like to live away from home and become part of a college community.

    Since every college has its own look, feel, and personality, your student will be able to "try it on for size" to get a sense of the differences.

Get Money Answers Up Front

There are some additional things you should know. For instance, does the college practice what is known as Need-Aware or Need-Blind admissions? Need-Aware means that when the college gets to its last applicants and the choice is between two students who are academically equal, the one who needs aid will not get the aid. This is what's known as Admit/Deny. The student is admitted but the college will be unaffordable which is the same as being rejected.

State (public) universities and a few of the wealthiest colleges and universities are Need-Blind. That is, they don't consider a student's financial need as part of the admissions process.

The Net Price Calculator

Next, ask about the Net Price Calculator. All colleges have them because the Department of Education says they have to. This calculator is supposed to give you an idea of what it will cost to send your student to that school. However, the government doesn't say that it has to be accurate. In fact, the NPC has a disclaimer testifying to this fact! This is language taken directly from a net price calculator:

"The estimate provided using this net price calculator does not represent a final determination, or actual award, of financial assistance. The price of attendance and financial aid availability may change. This estimate shall not be binding on the Secretary of Education, this institution of higher education or the State in which this institution of higher education is located."

More questions: Will they meet your full financial need? Is their financial aid based solely on the FAFSA formula? If the college also uses the CSS/Profile, how closely do they follow that formula? Will they count the equity in your home? How much of financial aid is in the form of scholarships and grants (free money) and how much is going to be loans and work-study? Do they front-load the first year? In other words, will they decrease financial aid in the second year? You may not get answers to all your questions. But to the extent that you do, you'll have to decide if you can live with their aid policies.

Finally, ask them about all of the forms and other requirements you will have to fulfill. It's crucial you know with whom they will communicate: You or your student? Knowing the what, when, whom and how it all works at each and every college will help make a very difficult process at least understandable (hopefully).

    This October first, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA and the CSS/Profile are both available to apply for financial aid. Both forms will use the parents 2015 tax return information. For families where the parents are separated or divorced, it's important to decide before then which parent is going to be the custodial parent. Normally it's the custodial parents' income and assets that will be reported on the financial aid forms. The definition of a custodial parent is the one whom the student lives with for at least 181 days of the year or provides the majority of their support. In cases where the custodial parent makes more than the non-custodial parent, it may make sense to have that parent complete the forms. One of the new questions is: Which parent provided most of your housing, clothing, food, and other support during the past year? To make sure all of your information is consistent this should be thoroughly discussed with a qualified college-planning specialist.

Until next month...



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