One week from today, May 1, is the National Candidate Reply Deadline. It’s a big day for anyone offered admission for this coming fall at one or more of America’s four-year colleges and universities.
Why? May 1 is the last day for a prospective freshmen to:
• Accept her admission offer from one of these institutions, usually by paying its nonrefundable enrollment deposit;
• Pay another, nonrefundable deposit to guarantee a place for herself in an on-campus residence hall; and
• Accept, reduce, or reject the financial aid awards she’s been offered by her institution.
A prospective freshman who doesn’t do these things on or before May 1 will forfeit admission to her school of choice, surrender her chance of living on its campus, and lose the grants (except for Federal Pell Grant), scholarships, and work-study jobs it offered to her.
So a soon-to-be college student who’s not yet completed these steps has just one week to decide where she can afford to enroll. Toward this end, she needs to:
1. Overcome the games some colleges play by deciphering misleading information and demanding information missing from her financial aid award letters.
2. Engage in comparative shopping by analyzing different award letters in order to:
• Determine the “net price” she’ll pay for her freshman years by subtracting the grants, scholarships, and tuition waivers offered to her from the costs of attendance she’ll pay; and
• Identify any “unmet need” she’ll have to cover by subtracting financial support she’ll receive from her family, loan amounts she and her parents will borrow, and earnings from any work-study opportunity offered from her net price.
3. Get a response to any special circumstance appeal she or her parents submitted to request more financial aid because of extraordinary situations her family has encountered.
Of course, a student shouldn’t necessarily pick a postsecondary school simply because it’s the cheapest alternative. Numerous other issues should also be considered. Does the institution offers the major she wants? How well does the school accommodate disabilities that may afflict her? Is the institution’s campus, faculty, and student body a good “fit” for her, etc.
Any prospective freshman who’s not yet picked her college or university and done everything else she needs to do on or before next Wednesday should get on with it! Finish your research. Formulate your decision! Pay your deposits. Accept your aid.
Then celebrate. No matter where you go and what you study, you’ve just taken the next important step in positioning yourself for a bright future! Congratulations!
For various strategies that can be implemented before, during and after college to keep higher education affordable, feel free to contact College Affordability Solutions.