Category Archives: Financial Aid

Scholarship Search Resources

Scholarship Vintage Orange Seal Isolated On White

Here are some scholarship search resources that may yield some results for you. Be sure to read up on how to avoid scams. My best advice on scholarships is to apply early and look beyond the large (and highly competitive) scholarships and consider the smaller, niche scholarships.

Also, be sure to let the college counseling office know well in advance of any deadlines about what needs to be mailed from school (for example: letters of recommendation, test scores, transcript, etc.). Good luck!

Northwood boarding students are also advised to contact the guidance counselor at their hometown high school to determine which scholarships are available to students in their hometowns.

These are the most popular scholarship resources:

Northwood’s college counselors have also heard good things about these scholarship resources:

Recording and Other Resources: Affording College Webinar

Dear Parent:

financial-aid-office2The College Guidance office at Northwood School held our second webinar of the year tonight, Affording College: Financial Aid and Scholarships. Thank you to the 21 parents who attended, and thank you to Jennie Hoffman of SUNY Oswego, who was our guest expert.

Here are some related resources and information on the topics we discussed tonight:

Later this school year, we will host two more webinars related to affording college and financial aid: the first one will be practical advice on comparing financial aid offers; the second will be a more general session similar to what we did with tonight’s webinar. Stay tuned for more information about those.

I invite you to attend the Family Weekend session on the college search and application process. See the Family Weekend schedule for more information.

Finally, save the date for the next College Guidance webinar:

Demystifying the College Testing Process
Wednesday, October 12 at 7PM

Best regards,

John Spear
Director of College Guidance

Financial Aid Timeline (and Resources)

financial-aid-office2The financial aid process can often be confusing and overwhelming. The timeline below provides an over-view of the process and when each step in the process occurs. Deadlines will vary depending on the school that you are attending and the aid that you are applying for, so know the application deadlines specific to you, and make sure you leave enough time to collect all the necessary information and documentation. Apply as early as possible for each program to ensure that you receive maximum consideration and don’t miss out on financial aid.

Please note that beginning in the 2016-17 application cycle, students will use their “prior-prior year” tax return information to complete aid applications. In other words, students starting college in the fall of 2017 will use family income data from the 2015 tax return.

Continue reading

Sticker Shock: How to Budget for the College Search

collegefundRising college tuition and fees have been well studied and reported in the media. The cost of attendance at many of the most selective private colleges and universities can top $60,000 per year. Even as families work hard to save for that major expense and plan to apply for financial aid they are surprised by the cost of the college search and application process, which, if a student isn’t careful, can approach $10,000.

Here’s a summary of what to expect: Continue reading

In the College Search, Focus on Financial Aid Fit

financial-aid-office2You can’t watch the news or read the paper these days without hearing about the rising cost of a college education and the increasingly burdensome debt many students are saddled with after graduation. Financial aid can be complicated, and some families respond by putting blinders on, focusing on applying to a group of schools and then sorting out affording college in the spring, after acceptances are released and the May 1 reply deadline is looming.

A better strategy is to consider college affordability earlier, like NOW. ​Here’s what you can do.

First fill out the College Board’s “Expected Family Contribution (EFC) Calculator.” You’ll probably need your parent’s help with this, because it asks personal questions about family finances.

The resulting figure is an important number: it’s what colleges and universities will generally consider affordable for your family, your “Expected Family Contribution.” With that number you can determine your family’s financial need. Your need will be different at each college, because colleges have different costs of attendance. The “Cost of Attendance” is tuition, of course, but also room and board, if applicable, and books, fees, living expenses and travels costs. Your Financial Need at an intuition will be the Cost of Attendance minus your Expected Family Contribution:


As you research schools, look into whether or not they meet 100% of financial need. Most do not. Ask if they give merit scholarships (financial aid given based on academic or other qualifications), and, if they do, ask what qualifies an applicant for merit aid.

If you know for sure one (or more) college you are going to apply to, you might consider checking out the school’s “Net Price Calculator.” Google the school’s name and the words “Net Price Calculator” and it should be at the top of your list of search results. All colleges are required to have a Net Price Calculator, and they can be very helpful. Some are better than others. Generally, the best Net Price Calculators ask for lots of information: family income and assets, student grades and test scores. Usually, the more specific the form, the more accurate the results. Look closely to be sure you’re making an “apples to apples” comparison.

After you try the Net Price Calculator at a few schools, you’ll quickly learn that what you pay is not the same as “tuition, room and board.” Sometimes private schools with high price tags are more affordable than a seemingly low-cost state school. The net price at private schools with similar tuition can vary by tens of thousands of dollars.

The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) Calculator and the Net Price Calculator will give you a sense of what you’re in for, financially. I always tell parents that if cost will influence their child’s college choice, then they should have a conversation about that right away. You don’t want to find out in April that your top choice college is totally out of your price range. As your senior year approaches, you want to make sure your college list includes options that will be affordable. How does your list look?

Read more about this topic in an article in the Journal of College Admission. More on financial aid.

Comparing Financial Aid Offers

You’ve been accepted by a bunch of good colleges, and the financial aid offers from the schools are flowing in. How do you compare them?

It’s not necessarily easy—especially if this is your first exposure to the college years. Experts warn that it’s common to get confused about which combinations of loans, scholarships, grants, or work-study are best. “We’re seeing a sustained high level of confusion, because there are always new entrants who are suddenly faced with vocabulary they never learned when studying for the SAT,” says Robert Shireman, director of the Project on Student Debt. Continue reading

Four Steps to Getting Financial Aid

collegefund1. File the FAFSA soon after January 1. Read this quick guide to filling out the FAFSA. Don’t feel like reading? Watch this. (Be sure to go to Scamers use similar web addresses to trick people into purchasing services they don’t need.)

2. Complete the CSS/Profile, if required. Most private colleges and universities require the CSS/Profie. By filling out one form, you can apply online for nonfederal financial aid from almost 400 colleges and scholarship programs.

3. Check with college financial aid offices to see if they require other forms.

4. Search and apply for private scholarships. For information on finding private scholarships go here and here.

Five Outstanding web resources:

1. Federal Student Aid is the largest provider of student financial aid in the nation. It is the first place to go for all topics related to financial aid.

2. The Financial Aid Toolkit provides federal student aid information and outreach tools for counselors, college access professionals, nonprofit mentors, and others.

3. The Federal Student Aid YouTube Feed provides outstanding short videos about all aspects of the federal student financial aid process. If you’d prefer watching a quick video to reading a publication, this is the place for you.

4. You can use the College Scorecard to find out more about a college’s affordability and value so you can make more informed decisions about which college to attend.

5. Funding Your Education provides a description of Federal Student Aid programs and the application process . You will find information on federal student aid as a source for funding postsecondary education, and know where to go for more detailed information.

International students, check this out.

More financial aid resources