fun thing about scanning a stream of tweets is that you’re
bound to spot something that you didn’t know. Some
quick fact or news tidbit pops up and gives you a clue
into the bigger picture.
for a new twist for delving into the mind-boggling
process involved with college scholarships, student
loans, financial aid and other aspects involved with
paying for college.
called a "Twisdom" — or what college
financial aid expert Mark Kantrowitz calls "tweetable
publisher of Edvisors.com, is someone who clearly has an
encyclopedic knowledge of college savings programs and
financial aid. But no one is forced here to read an
encyclopedia. Kantrowitz has written a fun, readable
book called "Twisdoms About Paying for
College" (Edvisors Network Inc., $7.95 for the thin
paperback and $4.95 for the Kindle version).
every quick item here is not limited to a 140-character
read, as on Twitter. But the Twisdom approach does offer
short, specific advice that’s easy to comprehend and
ultimately can motivate you to dig a bit deeper into the
a mom of a high school senior, I am aware of how
precious little time we have. Parents, students and high
school counselors are stretched to the limit juggling
jobs, sports practices, term papers, college
applications, essays and, yes, all those crazy tours of
to study up on FAFSA, college scholarships, and the
grant process? Sure, I’ll do that during my lunch
the funny thing is that this book does allow parents
with children of any age — and the earlier the better
— to start studying some complex topics during very
make the book easier to pick up, chapters focus on
specific months beginning in September, which is
National College Savings Month.
have a tendency to overestimate their child’s
eligibility for merit-based aid and to underestimate
their child’s eligibility for need-based financial
half of all scholarships have deadlines in the fall, so
don’t wait until spring to start searching for
for scholarships at free scholarship search sites, such
as StudentScholarshipSearch.com and CollegeBoard.org.
than 1 percent of students in bachelor’s degree
programs win a completely free ride.
suggests that students take a different approach when
faced with writing essays for a college application or
scholarship. Many essay questions aren’t easy to
address. His Twisdom: "When writing essays, try
recording yourself as you answer that question out loud.
Then, transcribe the recording and add structure by
organizing and outlining your thoughts."
the PSAT/NMSQT in the fall of your junior year in high
school. This is the qualifying test for the National
Merit Scholarship, a major scholarship program.
invest more than a postage stamp to get information
about scholarships or apply for a scholarship.
of the unclaimed aid myth. The only scholarships that
ever go unclaimed can’t be claimed, such as
scholarships with very restrictive selection criteria.
an organized, seasonal approach to these topics allows
you to move forward during the year with confidence that
you’re going to accomplish something here. A busy
student or parent can pick up some advice just by
skimming the book at various times in a school year.
offers guidelines on FAFSA, the Free Application for
Federal Student Aid, which becomes available Jan. 1. His
advice: File FAFSA as soon as possible on or after Jan.
1. You do not have to wait until your tax returns have
been filed or the student is admitted into a specific
college to file the FAFSA.
of his Twisdoms: "Students who file the FAFSA in
January, February and March receive more than double the
grants, on average, of students who file the FAFSA
costs and borrowing down must be a priority for many
students and their families.
Kantrowitz offers some advice there, as well. Some tips
sound basic for students: Do not spend money in vending
machines. Cut travel costs by going home less
frequently. Live like a student while you are in school,
so you don’t have to live like a student after you
also has some points that some families might not have
considered. Low-income students, for example, can ask
about application fee waivers and admission test fee
waivers. Students who take a "full-time"
academic program of 12 credits each academic term will
not graduate in four years. Take an extra class each
academic term and during the summer term to accelerate
your progress to an academic degree.
here’s my favorite Twisdom, and maybe one that many of
us don’t exactly want to hear: "A $10 pizza a
week costs $2,000 over a 4-year college career."