#CollegeChat Transcript: How to Evaluate Colleges Financially with Lynn O’Shaughnessy

Last night, Lynn O’Shaughnessy, a bestselling author and higher education journalist, shared  advice from her newly published book The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price (2nd Edition) during #CollegeChat on Twitter.

We had an interesting discussion revolving around how to find the right school at the right price. We covered the following topics:

  • What are the biggest sources of college money.
  • How can you increase your chances of qualifying for merit scholarships.
  • How can you evaluate the generosity of a school before applying.
  • Where to find the best online tools to evaluate colleges.
  • What do families of divorce need to know about financial aid.
  • How to use net price calculators.

You can read the entire 34 page transcript here Collegeblogs Transcript 5-15-12

Best Selling Higher Education Author Lynn O’Shaughnessy to Provide Advice on How to Evaluate Colleges #CollegeChat May 15th

O’Shaughnessy to discuss advice from her new book “The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right price (2nd Edition)

Lynn O’Shaughnessy, a bestselling author and higher education journalist, will share advice from her newly published book The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price (2nd Edition) during #CollegeChat on Twitter, May 15, 2012 at 9 p.m. Eastern.

O’Shaughnessy wrote the second edition of her book “so you too can become an empowered consumer.” During #Collegechat, O’Shaughnessy, https://twitter.com/#!/collegeblogs , will discuss key information parents and students need to know including:

  • What are the biggest sources of college money.
  • How can you increase your chances of qualifying for merit scholarships.
  • How you can evaluate the generosity of a school before applying.
  • Where to find the best online tools to evaluate colleges.
  • What do families of divorce need to know about financial aid.
  • What are a teen’s options if he/she does poorly on the ACT or SAT.
  • What is the real story behind athletic scholarships.

About Lynn O’Shaughnessy

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is a nationally recognized higher-ed author, journalist, and speaker. She is the author of numerous books including her Amazon bestseller: The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price. She also wrote Shrinking the Cost of College, a workbook available only on her website, that helps families make smart and affordable college choices. O’Shaughnessy writes frequently about college issues for her CBS MoneyWatch column and for her popular college blog TheCollegeSolution.com. O’Shaughnessy is the consulting director of college planning, K-12, at the University of California, San Diego Extension. She is also a frequent speaker on how families can find and afford great schools.

About #CollegeChat

#CollegeChat is a live bi-monthly conversation intended for teens, college students, parents, and higher education experts on Twitter. #CollegeChat takes place on the first and third Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. PT/ 9 p.m. ET. Questions for each #CollegeChat edition can be sent to Theresa Smith, the moderator of #CollegeChat via http://Twitter.com/collegechat, by entering questions online on the CollegeChat Facebook page or by email. More detailed information about signing up for Twitter and participating in #Collegechat can be found at http://pathwaypr.com/how-to-participate-in-a-twitter-chat

1st #CollegeChat: Bestselling College Author Provides 10 Tips to Cut the Cost of College

Although the cost of paying for college is eclipsing many families’ budgets, by doing their own research families can dramatically reduce the cost of college according to Lynn O’Shaughnessy, higher education journalist and author of the new ebook Shrinking the Cost of College: 152 Ways to Cut the Price of a Bachelor’s Degree. During the first session of  #CollegeChat on Twitter, Lynn shared 10 tips from her new book that can potentially save college students and their families thousands of dollars.

“What’s become apparent to me is that families devote a lot more time to stressing about college than actually evaluating their options,” said Lynn O’Shaughnessy. “I’ve run into plenty of parents who seem to know where their children will attend school before they ever visit a single campus. I have no idea how much time the typical family spends researching colleges, but I do believe that it’s not enough. I believe that these tips from my new book can help steer families into helping their children make great choices for college that will also spare their budgets.”

Lynn recommends the following ten tips to shrink the cost of college:

  • Cast a wide net. According to Lynn, some of the best deals for college may be time zones away. 35% of students attend school 50 miles or less from home but in-state schools aren’t always the cheapest. Sometime private schools are better deals than public schools. Lynn recommends families and students look at Forbes magazine best college rankings for ideas for potential colleges http://bit.ly/9SrzuF and also recommends reviewing http://www.zinch.com/ and http://www.cappex.com for college ideas that can be outside the box.
  • Check out colleges’ graduation rates. Fewer than 60% of college students graduate in six years which can dramatically impact a family’s bottom line. An excellent resource to start researching 4, 5, and 6 year graduation rates is http://collegeresults.org/ . Lynn also recommends reviewing the list of schools from US News that have highest 4-yr grad rates http://bit.ly/6iazP. Graduation rates among similar type of schools can be all over the board so always compare candidates before selecting your final school.
  • College sticker prices are meaningless. Do not discount pricey private universities because they usually have the best financial aid packages. Most state and private colleges discount prices. Private schools average tuition discount is 53.5%. State schools average tuition discount is 15%. 2/3rds of students at public and private schools receive grants (free money) from their colleges. Unfortunately, 59% of students say they only look at price tags when shopping for colleges http://bit.ly/98Kc84.
  • Consider schools with the best financial aid packages. A good place to start is the list of 51 schools that Lynn compiled based on a study that researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Amherst College presented at the latest College Board Forum:  http://bit.ly/6JWpfs . In addition, check a school’s Common Data Set to measure its generosity here: http://bit.ly/3gTYMN .
  • Understand what falls under the umbrella of financial aid and what the differences are. Grants, loans and work study make up a typical financial aid package. Use the College Board EFC Calculator to determine how much a college will expect a family to contribute at a minimum: http://bit.ly/fFtpP . Also, check a school’s financial aid profile on http://CollegeBoard.com to see what percentage of financial need a school typically awards.
  • Apply for financial aid regardless of your income. Most people assume they won’t qualify for financial aid, but most families do. Families that make $200,000 or more may still qualify for significant need-based aid at pricey colleges. Some very affluent families – making $150,000-$200,000– can qualify for need-based aid at $50,000 plus schools. Affluent families would not qualify for need-based aid at state universities.
  • Look for merit scholarships. 82% of students at private colleges receive merit scholarships. Check out http://www.meritaid.com for scholarships from the schools themselves. To capture the best discounts, look for schools with a good academic fit. Try to look for schools where the prospective students would be in the top 25%-33% of applicants in grades and test scores. Private scholarships are the smallest source of college cash, but the myth persists that this is how to pay for college.
  • Teens can win academic scholarships despite mediocre SAT/ACT scores. More than 830 colleges and universities are SAT/ACT optional. You can find the list of schools at http://fairtest.org/ . There is no need to submit scores to test-optional schools and typically this won’t hurt scholarship chances. At plenty of schools, B students receive scholarships and at some schools everybody gets break in the price. For these schools, grades and strength of high school classes are more important than test scores when schools are awarding money.
  • Beware of reach schools. A reach school is one where the student has little chance to get in. It is the opposite of a safety school. The danger of reach schools is that they give little or no financial aid or scholarships to students who barely get in. They often reserve best cash for top 1/3 to ¼ of new freshman class. Students will fare better with financial aid if they select schools that are solid academic matches. Students should check student profiles in college guides like Fiske, Princeton Review, CollegeBoard.com and College Navigator. Schools will often “gap” kids who barely get in with poor aid packages.
  • Limit borrowing to federal student loans. Students should not borrow more than the $27,000 that is eligible to them through Stafford federal loans. These loans have built-in repayment protections: http://bit.ly/a0Vv6d . In addition, students should go through their college for the loans. Private loans should be an absolute last resort. Here are tips on borrowing: http://bit.ly/aD8D87. Borrowing federal loans is also safer now because of the new federal income-repayment program. A great resource for student loan information is http://projectonstudentdebt.org/ . The maximum federal Stafford loan for freshman is $4,500; for sophomores it is $6,500; and for juniors and seniors it is $7,500 each year.

Lynn is also the author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller. She regularly writes about college for CBSMoneyWatch, for US News, and at her own higher-ed blog – TheCollegeSolutionBlog. She has shared her college advice in such media outlets as Business Week, Los Angeles Times, CNN, Associated Press, The New York Times and Money Magazine. The higher-ed journalist gives presentation about college strategies at schools, financial firms and corporations. Lynn also provides private consulting services for families who desire help in navigating the college process.

About #CollegeChat

#CollegeChat is a live monthly conversation intended for teens, college students, parents, and higher education experts on Twitter. Questions for each #CollegeChat edition should be sent to Theresa Smith, the moderator of #CollegeChat either via http://Twitter.com/collegechat or by entering questions online at the CollegeChat Facebook page at http://ht.ly/1XIqV. CollegeChat can also be found on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/collegechat.

About Pathway Communications

Pathway Communications is a Los Angeles based public relations and social media consultancy that has helped put both emerging small and medium sized companies targeting a number of industries — including higher education, financial services, bio-technology, manufacturing, technology and e-commerce –on the map and at the forefront of the conversation. Pathway Communications’ clients have stretched from the Silicon Valley to the East Coast. More information can be found at http:// pathwaypr.com, by phone at 818-704-8481, or by email. Pathway is on Twitter at http://twitter.com/pathwaypr.

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Editors Note: All trade or brand names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.

Shrinking the Cost of College

Bestselling College Author to Provide Teens, College Students and Parents with Tips on How to Cut the Price of a Bachelor’s Degree on First Twitter #CollegeChat

lynnsheadshotLos Angeles, CA, May 19, 2010— Bestselling author and higher-education journalist Lynn O’Shaughnessy will share tips from her new book Shrinking the Cost of College: 152 Ways to Cut the Price of a Bachelor’s Degree during the first edition of  #CollegeChat on Twitter on June 1, 2010 at 6 pm Pacific, Theresa Smith, principal of Pathway Communications and moderator of #CollegeChat announced today.

During the live Twitter chat, Lynn will discuss how to become a smart consumer in cutting the cost of college and will describe how the college financial aid process works and where to find the money. Among Lynn’s 152 tips to shrink college costs are:

  • Learn which 60 colleges offer the best financial aid packages
  • Discover where you’ll find the biggest source of scholarship cash
  • Find out why 82% of students at private colleges receive merit scholarships and how your child can
  • Discover how teens can win academic scholarships despite mediocre SAT/ACT scores
  • Find out how students can capture scholarships by leveraging their gender
  • Learn how to use a free federal database to investigate any school in the country
  • Find out how you can make $200,000 and still qualify for significant need-based aid at pricey colleges

lynnsbookcover

Lynn is also the author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller. She regularly writes about college for CBSMoneyWatch and at her own higher-ed blog – TheCollegeSolutionBlog. She has shared her college advice in such media outlets as Business Week, Los Angeles Times, CNN, Associated Press, The New York Times and Money Magazine. The higher-ed journalist gives presentation about college strategies at schools, financial firms and corporations. Lynn also provides private consulting services for families who desire help in navigating the college process.

New to Twitter?

In order to participate in the chat, attendees will need to have a Twitter account.  To sign up for a Twitter account, go to http:// twitter.com. The easiest way to follow the chat is to use TweetChat (http://tweetchat.com). Simply log in to TweetChat with your Twitter information (email or username followed by password) and then enter in CollegeChat without the “#” and you will be placed into the chat room with only those participating in #CollegeChat. More detailed information about signing up for Twitter and using TweetChat can be found at http://pathwaypr.com/how-to-participate-in-a-twitter-chat

About #CollegeChat

#CollegeChat is a live monthly conversation intended for teens, college students, parents, and higher education experts on Twitter. Questions for each #CollegeChat edition should be sent to Theresa Smith, the moderator of #CollegeChat either via http://Twitter.com/collegechat or by entering questions online at http:// pathwaypr.com/shrinking-the-cost-of-college . CollegeChat can also be found on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/collegechat .

About Pathway Communications

Pathway Communications is a Los Angeles based public relations and social media consultancy that has helped put both emerging small and medium sized companies targeting a number of industries — including higher education, financial services, bio-technology, manufacturing, technology and e-commerce –on the map and at the forefront of the conversation. Pathway Communications’ clients have stretched from the Silicon Valley to the East Coast. More information can be found at http:// pathwaypr.com, by phone at 818-704-8481, or by email. Pathway is on Twitter at http://twitter.com/pathwaypr.

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Editors Note: All trade or brand names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.

How to Participate in a Twitter Chat

If you are new to Twitter, you might not have participated in a Twitter Chat but you have probably come across a chat taking place. Twitter chats are scheduled conversations between Twitter users about whatever topic that interests them and are kept on track with a #hashtag, a topic with a hash symbol (“#”) at the start to identify it. One of my favorite Twitter chats to participate in is #journchat. It occurs on Monday evenings and is a weekly conversation between journalists, bloggers and public relations folks that was started by Sarah Evans.

Participating in a Twitter chat is a great way to learn from and connect with other individuals who might also share your passion for a specific subject area. According to the Twitter Chat Schedule , maintained by Robert Swanwick,  there are already over 132 chats on Twitter and they cover almost every subject area imaginable including blogging, design, small business advice,  and gardening. On June 1, 2010 at 6 PM Pacific #CollegeChat will make its debut on Twitter and will be moderated by me through my @collegechat Twitter account. #CollegeChat will start out as a monthly conversation intended for teens, college students, parents, and higher education experts on Twitter.

Getting Started

In order to participate in a Twitter chat, attendees will need to have a Twitter account.  To sign up for a Twitter account, go to http:// twitter.com. Once you have your Twitter account, you are ready to go.

There are a number of formats to use to follow a Twitter chat but the easiest way I have found to follow the chat is to use TweetChat (http://tweetchat.com). Assuming you will be joining me on #CollegeChat, simply log in to TweetChat with your Twitter information (email or username followed by password) and then enter in CollegeChat without the “#” and you will be placed into the chat room with only those participating in #CollegeChat.

You can also participate in the chat from the main Twitter screen. Just enter the #hashtag for the chat with the “#” sign into the ‘search” box and you will be able to see everyone who is participating. If you want to join in, you will need to remember to add the #hashtag after every entry. You don’t need to do this step if you use TweetChat.

I hope you can join me on June 1, 2010 at 6 PM Pacific for the first #CollegeChat. Our first guest will be Amazon bestselling author and higher education  journalist Lynn O’Shaughnessy who will share tips from her new book Shrinking the Cost of College: 152 Ways to Cut the Price of a Bachelor’s Degree