Critical Questions for Funding a College Education

This week we have a Guest Blog written by Mike Dailey, owner of College Authority in Connecticut.  Mike has 25 years of experience working with families and college funding strategies.  He has spoken at many high schools and brings great insight to the college process.  While he is based in Connecticut, the Internet makes business anywhere a reality.  I hope you will enjoy his perspective and expertise!

Financial aid is a critical piece of paying for college for most families, and even if it is not, why are you spending unnecessary dollars?  Unfortunately, paying for college can be an extremely complex and convoluted process with colleges having different financial aid forms and filing deadlines. On top of that, there are formulas used to determine a family’s eligibility for federal aid and a college’s need based financial aid and non-need aid, scholarships and grants.  Colleges typically do not explain how the formulas are derived but they can easily be determined college by college if you know how to look up their aid statistics. Knowing this information puts the family in the driver’s seat to understand their aid eligibility and to appeal their aid package if they feel they have been shorted.

Between now and January, seniors will be submitting applications and financial paperwork will need to be filed with your institutions of choice.  Have you considered these questions:

  • How to make college affordable regardless of our income level
  • How to maximize our family’s eligibility for college financial aid
  • What are the little known funding sources available even if we don’t qualify for need based aid
  • What to do we do if the value of our 529 college savings plan is down by 25-40%
  • How do we pay for college without sacrificing our retirement
  • How do we pay for college even if I lose my job in the next 12 months
  • How do we determine exactly how much money we’ll need to pay for college expenses
  • Are there colleges that offer the best shot of getting a good financial aid package
  • Is it possible to attend an expensive private university for less than the cost of a state college

Feel free to email us for a complimentary phone consultation by visiting our website:

I want to say a special Thanks to Mike for sharing some of his expertise and taking the time to provide some very important questions for consideration.

Top 10 Jobs Trends…Now and Through 2017

Whether you are a student in school or an adult in the workforce, it is important to recognize that many of the millions of jobs and even careers that have been lost in the last 5 years will not return even when the economy gains strength.  Our society as a whole has had a major shift in technology and jobs.  Jobs of the future will be “knowledge jobs”.   Regardless of how expensive education is, it will be vital to the future of our nation and the individuals within.  Education may be a university degree or it may be a trade or technical school certification, but having that education will make all the difference.

So, when thinking about the options,  it is important to pay attention to trends.    Trends of success in the future will include leadership and knowledge jobs.  Just check out this list of “Top 10 Jobs” and see if leadership and knowledge are not key components:

Want to know more about trends? Want to know if your natural abilities are well suited for one of these career directions?  Which college degree programs connect best with your abilities for a best fit and optimal success? Contact me.

Halloween and Other Scary Times

How perfect to end the month with Halloween and a topic of Scary Times.  If you are a junior or senior in high school or a senior in college you are facing scary times.  There is enough uncertainty in the world to create plenty of anxiety in those who are in pivotal transition points in their lives.

Actually, anyone who is trying to make decisions about college and career direction is facing scary times.  But you can reduce the stress by arming yourself with tools that enhance your decision-making and place yourself in better positions for opportunities.

In a time when information is a key to success, resources can be your most important tools.  Here are some key resources for you to pay attention to regularly:

1.  Athletes in any sport – – a terrific resource for understanding the college sports recruiting experience and communicating with coaches to secure your opportunity.  Hans writes a great blog with specific information.  Bookmark it!

2.  College bound students and parents – – a must for registering for the SAT, pacing yourself with a prep program, practicing with their Question of the Day, and they are usually the first indicator of college cost increases.   An underused resource.  Bookmark it!

3.  Anyone thinking about career opportunities – – a wonderful resource for looking at trends of jobs, sectors of employment and demographic availability of employment.  Another underused resource.  Bookmark it!

Scary times can be made less frightening when armed with effective tools.  Knowing your options, how to manage them and knowing more about yourself enables you to make more effective decisions and capitalize on opportunities.  Need a great resource to learn more about yourself, choosing a college, college major or your career direction?  Contact me.

College Search

This is a really critical time for juniors and seniors in high school who are college bound.  Juniors need to be actively engaged in a plan and a process of managing timelines of tests and prep programs, exploring options and building their “Full Student Package.”  Seniors, you are applying to colleges and universities.  So, for all of you, I encourage you to visit the CollegeWeekLive website and explore colleges and universities that are part of the site.  As a site member, they provide great tools for students and parents as well as virtual tours, live chats and tons of information.  It’s free so sign up today!

The clock ticks and calendar waits for no one.  Don’t miss an opportunity!  Capitalize on your options.  Need help understanding options and clarifying direction?  Contact me.

Planning – A Critical Factor in Student Loan Debt

Last week I listed 6 characteristics in considering a college or university.  The 6th factor was “Financial” considerations.  I truly do believe that it can’t be the first or even an initial limiting factor when students are considering lists of colleges.  But it has to become a factor eventually and can even be a positive if you know how to manage the parties involved.

Unfortunately, through a host of reasons, student loan debt has become astronomical.  Please, read this article and make note of the huge implications of choosing unwisely.  The implications are no longer just for the student.  Trends are indicating parents will carry a lot of the debt throughout their own retirement.  Click here for Bottom Line article.

So, by planning wisely and effectively choosing a college major, you can reduce your potential for extending a four year bachelor degree into a 6 year bachelor degree and/or a disappointing employment disaster into a marketable major.  Effective planning is not just about a financial plan.  It’s about how you plan to make a good college decision, how you spend your four years on that first degree, and about how your investment will pay for itself in the long run.  Need help?  Contact me.

Planning for a “Great Fit” College Experience

Pick up a copy of US News College Rankings and the back section is usually filled with tips for making sure you get a good college fit.  Tune in to any chat with college students on and you will again hear the importance of finding the right college fit.  It just makes sense, saves time, saves money, and saves the pain and effort of transfer.  Getting the right college fit can make all the difference in a great college experience.  So be sure you pay attention to these 6 characteristics.

  1. Academics – be sure the institution has the major area of study in which you have interest, ability and desire.
  2. Geographic Location – consider your need to be close or far from home, the travel costs, and climate, urban, suburban, and rural.
  3. Cultural – how do students dress, are religious preferences readily available, what about food or dietary options.
  4. Social – are there sporting event venues, theater, what about fraternities or sororities, availability of favorite hobbies like skiing, golf, and cycling or paint ball.
  5. Athletics – an opportunity for you to engage in your sport as a college athlete ( for excellent recruiting advisement) or the venues for you to be a fan
  6. Financial – is it affordable, what could make it affordable, what is the earning potential given the degree you are looking to attain, does it make the cost worth the investment

Plan ahead and evaluate all of the characteristics to ensure a “Great Fit” college experience.


Exposure for a Good College Fit

Don’t wait until it is crunch time to begin making visits to college campuses.  You can begin to get a feel for the kind of university experience you want earlier than you think.  Make it a day excursion for the family or part of a holiday trip like Spring Break.  Something as simple as driving through the campus to see architecture, students walking or congregating, or the sheer size of an institution can help you begin to formulate an image of how you see yourself in college.  If you are…

An Athlete – go see a college basketball game, baseball game, spring training

A Musician or Actor – go see a college concert or stage performance

An Artist – walk through a college gallery exhibition.

A Science or Math enthusiast – find out what college sponsored competitions or mini courses are available for local high school students

A Fan – visit the bookstore for logo wear

All of these activities are usually posted on a college or university website.  So, do your homework and get exposed!  The more you know, the better decisions you can make for a good college fit.

Applying Natural Abilities for High School and College Students

Over the last two weeks the blog postings have addressed identification of natural abilities and the fact that they are measurable.  When measured, they can help provide insight for determining career direction or ways in which we can develop greater balance in our lives through cultivation of our work environment, responsibilities, or perhaps musical talents or other areas of interest.

For high school students trying to narrow the selection of a college or for college students who are struggling with declaring a major, it is beneficial to create a plan and pay attention to natural abilities.  Here is an example:

Jenny, a high school senior is trying to make a decision between 3 schools she has received acceptances from for college.  She is undecided about a career path, loves to write, travel and read.  She also enjoys working with children and thought about becoming a teacher.  Her profile shows that she has strong Vocabulary, Concept Organization and Observation abilities.  She also has a strong Design Memory.  Working with Jenny, one of the schools she is considering is the University Of Missouri.  Looking more closely at the School of Journalism, there is great opportunity for her to explore her interests and her natural abilities for a great career outcome filled with lots of options.  Click here to see the example. 

Finding a right college fit and determining career direction shouldn’t be a shot in the dark.  Your college experience is an investment in your future, so it needs to be evaluated and balanced carefully like a financial portfolio.  Need help evaluating and balancing?  Contact me for more information.

Informed Decisions for Future Success

Have you ever noticed how much time, focused energy, and money goes in to preparing to take the SAT, ACT or a re-test to get a better score?  So much of it is driven by the desire to have qualifying scores for a specific university or college of choice.  Imagine the hours invested in AP or IB courses for the purpose of positioning one’s self for that perfect college.  In making the selection to take a prep course for these tests, students and parents use their network of other students and parents to get recommendations for individual tutors or organizations.  They will spend countless hours to go on-line and search options.  So much effort and resource is spent on this one piece of preparing for college and the bigger picture of a career direction becomes a second priority or maybe third or fourth.

With the national average being six years to get a four year degree, the indicators point to students not being prepared to make a decision about their career direction and therefore the result is greater use of personal resources or student loans and lost earning potential.  That’s not to say that students can’t change their mind about a career major once they are in college, but they can make informed decisions that use both their time and their resources wisely and reduce the potential of increased time to get a bachelors degree and increase the likelihood that they will be happy with their career choice.

Making informed decisions means collecting the best possible information in multiple directions.  In order to do that with a career decision, the information needs to include personal interests, an assessment of values, an inventory of skills and a quantified measure of natural abilities.  If there are influencing factors like family legacies or expectations, those need to be addressed as well.

Adults in the workforce or preparing to return to work should also pay attention to these factors.  Making decisions about career changes whether it is a promotion opportunity or a totally new direction should be carefully and strategically structured.  Too often adults stay in a career field they discover to be less than satisfying and not rewarding financially or personally.  Yet they are paralyzed to make a move and often due to lack of information.  According to an Unknown Author, “Indecision becomes decision with time.”

Don’t be paralyzed by indecision.  Collect the information, assess your situation and goals, and if you need assistance, send me an email.  I can get you going in the right direction!

Values in Decision Making

Whether you are a high school student making a decision about your college selection, a college student interviewing for that first post-college job, or a member of the workforce trying to determine your next directional move, Values need to be a part of your thought and decision-making process.  Values play an important part in our work life satisfaction and they can shift at various points in our lives causing increased joy in our work or “values disconnects.”

During these transition points in life, it is a good time to assess personal values either by making a list or completing a values survey/inventory.  That way, the values that are most important are clearly in focus and part of the consideration process or even the interviews themselves.

I frequently remind clients that when they are being interviewed at colleges or for jobs, they too should be conducting an interview.  Part of your responsibility through that interview is to determine the level at which your values will be satisfied through participation with that organization.  On a scale of 1-10, where is money on your value scale?  What about time with friends or family?  Religion?  Recognition?  Fun?  The list here could go on, but the important list is your list and the important point is that you structure questions to provide the answers you need to know in your process.  When your list does not match with the college or the job, there is a “values disconnect” and dissatisfaction sets in.  Dissatisfaction leads to diminished performance and reduced productivity.

There are no guarantees for any of the decisions we make regarding our schools of choice, the jobs we take or the directions we set for career paths.  But we can be proactive, employ good decision-making strategies, and feel confident about the choices we make when values are part of the decision-making process.