Bay College Planning Specialists

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HOW CAN PARENTS OF COLLEGE BOUND STUDENTS ACCESS FREE MONEY FOR COLLEGE?

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This Way to Free Money for College

The cost of a college education is skyrocketing.  Other than the purchase of your home, a college education will be a family’s largest expense in their lifetime.  Is your family prepared to spend in excess of $100,000.00 for your kid’s college education?  I’ve listed a few tips that will help ease the pain if parents become proactive in the process.

Tip #1. Start the search for schools that are a good fit for your child.

Find schools that offer maximum financial aid.  Some are more generous based on their endowments.  Start with a list of 20 to 30 schools  and begin to research their aid history.  Some schools will help more than others.  A good place to start is with College Board’s website(www.collegeboard.com).

Tip #2.  Apply to schools at which  your student has a good chance of being admitted.

Grades and test scores should be in the top 25% of the application pool.  The higher your students GPA, test scores and more importantly, community service attributes, the better chance of admittance and endowment scholarship consideration.

Tip #3. Research the schools Merit Scholarship qualifications.

Merit scholarships are based overall talents of your student.  Family income is not a determining factor when qualifying for these types of awards.

Tip #4. Always complete the Free Application For Federal Student Aid.

You may be pleasantly surprised even if you are a six-figure family.  If you don’t apply for FAFSA, you will be ineligible for any type of federal aid including student loans as well as many merit scholarships.


Dan Evertsz, the College Money Pro, is the owner of College Planning Specialists located in Oakland, CA. For the past 17 years, he and his partner have helped of hundreds of families obtain financial aid from universities all across the country.

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Filed under: Admissions, Applications, Banks, College Debt, College Financing, College Planning, College Workshops, Essays, FAFSA, Grants, High School, Out of State Tuition, Pell Grants, Public Service, Scholarship, School supplies, Students, Tax Credits, Tuition, Universities, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

College Financial Aid – A Game of Strategy

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By Pete Becker

Every year, tens of millions of students and their parents struggle to complete the required FAFSA and CSS Profile forms. These forms are required if the family wants to receive financial aid. They ask for all kinds of personal, financial, and even religious information. It can be a very invasive process. What most parents don’t understand is that they are playing a Game conceived by the Federal Government and run by the colleges. Rarely do the colleges explain the rules in advance. In fact, this game is very much like a game of Poker.

For most people, the first few times they play a game, such as poker, someone explains the purpose and the rules to follow. They are helped until they understand and can play on their own. After a while, the new player may attempt to learn how to play the game well enough to win more of the time. If the player is really serious, they will seek out books, articles, and software to sharpen their skills. The strategies they learn will give them confidence in their abilities and they will start to win more often.

The College Financial Aid Game is different though. The rules of the game were created by Congress and the U.S. Department of Education. Each college gets to add in their own additional rules or change the rules to benefit that college. The game is aimed primarily at the parents. Where can they go to learn about the game? Playing this game means filling out the forms and pressing Submit. For most parents, there is only a once a year opportunity to play.

This game as I have described it is a lot like poker. Your cards are actually your income and your assets. The higher cards in a poker deck such as the Ace, King, Queen, and Jack are the equivalent of higher income and assets. Lower poker cards like 2, 3, and 4 represent lower income and assets.

In Poker, the hand with the highest cards at the end of the game wins all the time, except if you are good at bluffing. In the College Financial Aid Game, if the parents are holding high cards, they loose and the colleges win. The parents have to pay the colleges or will receive less in financial aid.

If the parents are holding or appear to be holding the low cards, they win. That means that the colleges will offer them a great deal in terms of financial aid, and this will include grants and scholarships. The key to playing this game is knowing the rules and learning the strategies that will make you appear as if you have low cards. This means knowing how to appear as if your income and assets are diminished.

The colleges do not play a friendly game. Their rules are tough. They are allowed to count your income and assets even in ways the IRS does not. For income, your Adjusted Gross Income is what counts. Your deductions and expenses are your problems. For assets, most are considered fair game. There are 153 different strategies that can be used to level the playing field for you.
When playing their game, it is in your best interest to learn the rules of their game and to learn the strategies that will help you to win!

About the author:
I have had a long career in financial products and small business. My new role is to educate high school parents on how best to prepare financially for college. As an introduction, I have just completed my brand new ebook which covers ten examples that colleges don’t want you to know about the process. It is “Secrets That Colleges Don’t Want You To Know”. Download it free at http://www.collegeplanningpathways.com

Filed under: Admissions, Applications, Banks, College Debt, College Financing, College Planning, College Workshops, Essays, FAFSA, Grants, High School, Out of State Tuition, Pell Grants, Public Service, Scholarship, School supplies, Students, Tax Credits, Tuition, Universities, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Is Home-schooling an option for San Francisco Bay Area Children

By Keith Watkins

Due to the questionable state of our nations public school systems and the current strains placed upon our countries current economy a growing number of families are deciding to educate their children at home. The decision to home-school is a home-schoolerspersonal one and usually a difficult one. Ultimately making the decision to take control of your children’s education can, at first, appear to be overwhelming to a parent but more and more families are making the decision to home-school everyday. Homeschool students have been growing by an estimated 8 percent annually in the U.S. and as of 2007 totaled about 1.5 million.

In many places home-schooling is a legal option for parents who wish to provide their children with an alternative learning environment other than the ones that exists in nearby schools. While academic and religious reasons dominate the motivations for most home-schoolers, parents cite numerous other reasons ranging from a dissatisfaction with the public schools in their area to the desire for better academic test results and in a lot of instances parents cite the price of private school educations as being the determining factor for an ever increasing amount of families. Students who are gifted or have special needs benefit from a home school opportunity because they can learn at their own pace, whether they need to spend more time on a lesson or delve deeper into the content as a way of satisfying their intellectual curiosity. To that end, home schooling offers parents the opportunity to ensure mastery of a concept before moving onto the next, while public schools merely require a demonstration of understanding before moving onto the next concept, largely due to time constraints. 

Other students that benefit from a home school setting are those who live in rural areas and riding a bus for an hour each direction is more a waste of time than anything else. 

Home-schooling can literally be life changing. It creates personal growth for both the parent and the child. Nothing you will ever do in life will have a more profound effect on your child and your family’s future as home-schooling.

Although every families home-school is unique, certain home-schooling “styles” have become universally very popular. Most home-schoolers do not follow one style or method. Instead, they select the ideas and suggestions that fit their family and eventually end up with a method all their own.

Below are some of the most often used popular home-schooling styles found.

School-at-Home Method

Unit Studies Method

“Relaxed” or “Eclectic” Home-schooling Method

Unschooling Method

Classical Home-schooling Method

The Charlotte Mason Method

The Waldorf Method

The Montessori Method

Multiple Intelligences Method

DVD/Video Schooling Method

Internet Home-schooling Method

Did you know that the Scripps National Spelling Bee Winner for 2007 was a local Danville, Ca.San Francisco Bay Area home schooler. Evan O’Dorney, the home-schooled eighth-grader, easily aced “serrefine” — a noun describing small forceps — to become the last youngster standing at the 80th annual 2007 spelling bee. Plus, every year home-schoolers are admitted to hundreds of colleges in at least five different  countries. Those who prepare thoroughly can actually be admitted to some of the colleges of their choices with full scholarships.

Most parents are unaware of the fact that parents don’t need to be California licensed to educate their own children at home.  Home educators may establish, in California, a private school based in their home by filing a Private School Affidavit with the California Department of Education (CDE).

The affidavit does not license, evaluate, recognize, approve of, or endorse a private school. The State of California accredits neither public nor private schools. The affidavit itself is a statistical tool, and necessary to effect the pupil’s exemption from compulsory public school enrollment and attendance. By filing an affidavit you are showing intent to establish a private school, and informing the state, as required by law. Parents have been legally using this provision for many years to conduct their own home-based private schools.

Parent support groups and networks are a terrific way to get started by collectively facing challenging situations, the beneficial offerings of encouragement from other parents, the sharing of ideas, socialization and generally a way to reduce the overall stress of getting started.

If your student is into to sports, he or she may be able to participate at certain schools without actually attending. I have a personal friend that attends a charter school in Oakland, CA. His son is the leading scorer on the varsity basketball team at the public school in his local district. His dad often jokes stating that, “he shows up at games and no one in the home stands has any idea who he is”.

The California Virtual Academies  web site has plenty of free quality information and is a very good place to start your search. They are actually funded by the state of California and use the K¹² curriculum to offer California students in grades K-12 an exceptional online learning experience. With individualized learning approaches, the California Virtual Academies provide the tools kids need to succeed—in school and beyond into their college years.  Here is a news video report describing California Virtual Academies.

Below is an overview of the California Virtual Academies program:

  • Our experienced, California-credentialed teachers, who are available online, by phone, and during face-to-face meetings.
  • The individualized, engaging K¹² curriculum, which covers both the core subject areas and electives. Based on decades of education research, this curriculum packages high-quality lessons with mastery-based assessments that ensure students achieve success at each and every level. Find out more about K¹².
  • The online planning and assessment tools, resources, and hands-on materials ranging from textbooks to microscopes, rocks and dirt to beautifully illustrated classic children’s stories, and much more. 
  • Our active, supportive school community, which organizes fun and informative monthly activities where CAVA parents, students, and staff share their successes, helpful hints, and more. 
  • The high-quality, tuition-free public education that enables a learning experience that is individualized for each child.
  • We’re fully accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Schools (ACS) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) for all academies, grades K-12.

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For more information on a distance based home school program please visit Laurel Springs School. Laurel Springs School is an accredited, college prep private school offering distance learning programs and teacher services for students in grades K-12. Laurel Springs uses web-based communication tools, a standards-based curriculum, and personalized instruction to offer students the highest quality home education experience based on your child’s learning style.

In conclusion, there are many many available options if home-schooling is of interest to your family. There are also many support groups, school affiliations and internet based organizations to assist in getting you started and also to guide families through the maze of of their newly discovered educational freedom. But first do the necessary research by Googling “Home School Organizations” in your City and State to gather as much information as possible.

Local San Francisco Bay Area home schooling parents should plan a visit to the upcoming 23rd Annual Christian Home Educators Bay Area Convention April 24-25, 2009. This event will be held at the Santa Clara Convention Center. Stop by the Bay Area College Planning Specialists booth for additional information concerning financial aid and scholarships for home-schooled students.

So, whether or not you are a parent who home schools your child, the next time you hear someone make a negative remark about parents educating their children at home, keep some of these points in mind. Consider all the benefits that a home school program offers parents, and their children. You might be pleasantly surprised at the many available options that exist for  families and that of their students future in education.

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Filed under: Bay Area, Career Path, Career Search, College Financing, College Planning, College Workshops, Consultants, Home Schooling, Parental Guidance, Public Service, Scholarship, Social Networking, Students, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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