OK, you’re probably as anxious to skip ahead to the ‘good stuff’ (the acceptances) as I am to share them with you.  Not gonna lie – it was a record-breaking year for our students in what was a very tough admissions and funding season for many.  They and their families deserve our congratulations!  But before I get to the stats, I wanted to take a minute to clarify something.

I know that in my articles, on my blog and in my classes I hammer the concept of ‘early planning’ to yield the best  results (see below), but it has been brought to my attention that the concept of early planning for college can mean very different things to different people.  Some families, for example, hear me say early college plan, and they purchase ‘FL pre-paid’, and then pray that their kids will get accepted to and want to attend a Florida public university and  qualify for a ‘Bright Futures’ scholarship.  To be clear, this is not what I mean when I discuss planning.  It works for some, but… to me, this is hope – not a strategy — and quite frankly, given the current college landscape, false-hope at that. Not only will a FL pre-paid program only cover a fraction of the total cost of attendance (about $4000 towards a $20,000 nut per year), but Bright Futures’ future as a need-blind ‘merit’ entitlement is not so bright.  (I’ve written extensively about both so I won’t belabor either point here – you can  read more about my opinion about the Future of Bright Futures).  

What I do mean when I discuss proper and strategic planning is this:

1. Never assume that you have to pay full sticker price at any college.   So, don’t reflexively rule out colleges based on the price on their brochure.  Dig deeper to determine which colleges have the ability and willingness to offer your student a discount, which colleges graduate their students in 4 not 6 years, and develop a plan that integrates your student’s academic prospects and career aspirations, his/her ability to demonstrate value and a school’s ability and willingness to reward said value.   Remember, your neighbor is not a college expert and does not have a true view into what needs or leverage you may or may not have.

2. Look at your need-based aid opportunities and take the related steps to maximize those opportunities (allocate your assets properly and choose schools with money to give).

3. Look at your merit-based opportunities and take steps to position your student to target and gain acceptance to those schools that will financially incent your student to attend. Don’t overlook the value of test prep (SAT and ACT).  Consider, for example, that some schools, like Tulane, value scores so much that they’re willing to pay you for them – literally.  There are others out there with similar sensibilities… and still other schools who won’t consider test scores at all — unless they’re above the school’s average — then they may give you a huge admissions advantage – even for marginal classroom performance.  You need to understand these nuances while developing your strategy because they can be significant difference-makers.

4. Look at your family situation and understand how the tax code and the Dept of Education financial aid regulations may intersect and/or be at cross purposes.  For example, small business owners will find loopholes in the Fin Aid regs that might be considered tax landmines (and vice versa), same-sex parents are recognized in finaid regulations (new) but may be treated differently by the tax code, same for separated and divorced households. There are quite literally thousands of pages of federal regulations that govern financial aid — and as is the case in any regulated program — these regs are confusing and rife with opportunity AND challenge.  No two families are alike and it behooves you to seek an expert opinion on yours.

As for the ‘early or advanced’ planning I speak of…ideally you’d start when your children are born… but as conditions change, you would revisit your plan to make sure it still makes sense.  The ‘fixadent and forget it’ method of old is not sound when it comes to a college plan.  I’ve counseled far too many families in recent years who woke up to a depleted 529 plan just when they needed it most.  Regardless, you should begin the heavy lifting on your college funding plan at the same time your child begins the heavy lifting on their academic pursuits – prior to 11th grade…  and certainly prior to 12th grade when the applications are due.    But  I work with families in all stages of the process…and what you see below reflects their efforts regardless of when they found me.  I do not get kids into college, nor do I ‘package them’ to get them a discount.  They earn their own admission into college —  and their parents take the proper steps with them to make sure their efforts are affordable… I just ‘coach em up’ and provide them with the right information, training and guidance to make informed choices and to facilitate the process.

So, without further ado – here is a list of the acceptances for the College Pete Class of 2017! Congrats to all!

Please note that some of these acceptances reflect more than one acceptance per student — a student, for example, who got into NYU might have also been accepted at UF and USC.  Also, I am still compiling the financial data — early returns are that the scholarship and grant offers exceeded $1.5 million (exclusive of Bright Futures and other FL state merit incentives), with approximately $30,000 average per offer.  I will make those numbers available and share my notes from the funding trenches next week.  

(Two schools worth mentioning, on opposite sides of the spectrum: Cal Tech was a true gem this year, with admissions and generous aid packages that were fair and attractive to students from both Miami-Dade and Broward.  This is a terrific option for aspiring engineers.  University of Virginia, on the other hand, was quite a disappointment.  Despite a reputation of generosity for a state university, they didn’t deliver when it mattered most, by stiffing a top Miami-Dade student despite his exemplary academic and athletic record and his mother’s demonstrated need.  Instead it looks like Wash U will be getting a great kid, and they delivered with a very fair aid package!)

Finally,  I am holding two, free college planning workshops this month — the last two of the school year.  If you have a child in or entering high school, and you’re ready to learn more about giving your child a better chance at gaining acceptance to a dream school that you will be able to afford, you should come to one of them.  Click here to learn more and to reserve your seat.

College Pete Congratulates the Class of 2017!  Well done you!

American University
Boston College
Boston University
Brandeis
Brown University
Cal Tech
Case Western Reserve
Catholic University of America
Colorado State
Columbia
Cornell
Duke University
Eastman School of Music at Univ. of Rochester
Emerson College
Emory University
FAU
FIU
FL Institute of Technology
FSU
GA Tech
George Washington Univ.
Georgetown
Harvard University
Harvey Mudd College
High Point University
Indiana University
Ithaca College
Johns Hopkins University
Loyola – Maryland
Loyola – New Orleans
Marist College
Maryland Institute College of Art
NC State
New College
NYU
Pratt Institute
Rhode Island School of Design
Rollins College
Seton Hall
Stetson
SUNY Stonybrook
Syracuse University
Temple University
Tufts
Tulane
UCF
UCLA
UF
UM
UNC – Chapel Hill
University of Pennsylvania – Wharton School of Business
Union College
University of Chicago
University of Michigan
University of Richmond
University of Southern California
University of Tampa
University of Virginia
University of Wisconsin
Vanderbilt University
Washington University in St. Louis
Wellesley College
West Texas A&M
Williams College

Click here to see admissions for College Pete’s Class of 2016.

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