All posts by samclaug

About samclaug

Owner of a college planning business that assists students and parents through the college and grad school admissions and financial aid process. Sharon holds a MEd in Adult Education, has over 20 years of experience as a College Admissions and Financial Aid administrator. She has taught ESL, GED and Adult Basic Education.

Too Late to Change Fall Plans?

It’s late July and all your friends are busy prepping for their first semester at college, while you are still trying to find a job or working in a job you know you don’t want to spend years at. You are beginning to regret not applying to college and are wondering if it is too late.

If this is your situation, know that you still have options for attending college in the fall.

First be aware that many colleges public and private, have Rolling Admissions. Rolling Admissions means that the institution accepts applications generally through the first two weeks of the semester. However, if you are looking for on-campus housing, acceptance in to a highly competitive program, or need significant financial aid, you will probably be out of luck.

That being said, you should talk to an admission counselor, financial aid counselor, or your private college planner as soon as possible.

Here are some tips to help you get into college this fall.

Apply as soon as possible for admissions and financial aid. The sooner you complete the application process, the sooner they can review and accept your application.

Find out if you need SAT or ACT scores. You may not need either if applying to a community college.

If you can’t decide on a major, consider General Studies or Liberal Arts. This particularly true if you need financial aid, as you must be enrolled in a degree or certificate program to be eligible for financial aid.

If you can’t afford to attend full time, take a course or two (whatever you can afford). Then you can take your time and work with a college planner to outline a plan to start fulltime in the Spring term or the next academic year.

Even taking a course or two at a local two year or four state college, can be used to your advantage when applying to college or university you want to attend full time. It shows you are: 1) capable of college level work and 2) you can manage your time effectively, especially if you are balancing work and school.

So take heart, you still have options if you want to start college this fall. Now get moving!! And good luck.

2018-2019 FAFSA Available October 1st

For those of you with high school seniors, you should be aware that the 2018-2019 FAFSA is available October 1st. You can complete the form as early as that date, particularly if your child is applying for EARLY DECISION or EARLY ACTION. If for those students applying for college through REGULAR Admission, the FAFSA may be completed later. My suggestion would be to survey the colleges your child is likely to apply to for their FAFSA deadline for incoming freshmen. Remember that any student applying for federal or state financial aid, including student loans, must complete a FAFSA. There is no fee for submitting a FAFSA.

Note that when completing the 2018-19 you will need your 2016

Federal Tax Returns (parents’ and student’s) to complete the income section.

Also available October 1st is the College Board’s 2018-2019 CSS Profile. This is the additional form that many private colleges and universities use for determining eligibility for institutional grants and scholarships. There is a Registration fee, as well as, a fee

for each college you request be sent the results. Students applying to private colleges will fill out the FAFSA as well as the Profile.

To complete the FAFSA click this link FAFSA.

To register for the CSS Profile click this link CSS Profile.

ServiceCorps: Unique  Program Helps Career-bound Grads Do Good

Today’s Boston Globe reported on ServiceCorps, a new service program that has partnered with GE and Citigroup. ServiceCorps allows corporate-bound college grads to defer for-profit careers for a year to work full-time at non-profits.  

The  college grads receive a salary between $35,000 and $40,000, health benefits and a 401k. Another great feature is that any student loan payments are also covered during the service year.

Read the full article on ServiceCorps.

Big FAFSA Changes Effective October 1st

There are two big changes coming to the FAFSA, Free Application For Student Aid, on October 1st. The FAFSA will now be available 3 months earlier than it traditionally has been. No longer will you have to wait until January 1st to complete the form. Now you can apply as early as October 1st. In addition, the federal tax return you will use to complete the form will be the “Prior-Prior” Year (PPY) return, as the Department of Education is calling it.  For the 2017-2018 FAFSA you will use your 2015 return. (If you applied for aid during 2016-2017, you also used your 2015 return.)

What is the significance of the changes? The earlier FAFSA availability assists students applying for Early Decision and Early Action Admissions. Currently families have to use the CSS Profile for ED and EA. There fees associated with the CSS Profile (registration and for each college/university the results are sent to in your behalf). The FAFSA is a free application. 

In addition, because the tax return used is the PPY, you will not have to wait until you complete your federal return or estimated your income. Also, business owners, will not be disadvantaged if they typically file tax returns later in the year. They would have their completed PPY return by October.

This chart from the USDepartment of Education shows the changes for 2017-2018  and 2018-2019 FAFSA.


Healthcare Questions for Students Planning to Study Abroad

Many college students are in the midst of planning their summer and fall study abroad  activities including making their final choice of study abroad location, calculating the costs, determining what travel documents are needed, flight reservations, etc. One area that should not be overlooked is healthcare. In addition, to the obvious question regarding the need for vaccinations, several other questions need to be answered. Do you need health insurance? Are you able to bring your prescription? Are there over- the-counter drugs that you should carry?

US NEWS has an explanation of these issues in Questions Students Should Ask About Healthcare Abroad. Be  sure to check it out.






The holidays have ended and high school students are back at school. Seniors are awaiting their acceptance letters or finishing up last minute admissions applications. But that does not mean that the college planning workload is over. In fact the second phase of the process has just gotten underway. The FAFSA became available January 1st.

These tips will make he process smoother for students and parents.

1. Know the deadlines for filing for financial aid for es h college you apply to for admissions. Generally they are anywhere from February 1st to March 1st.

2. The student AND one parent must apply for a FAFSSA ID at before you can complete the inline application.

3. If you do not have you W-2s or your federal tax teturn completed for 2015, estimate with your last pay stub for 2015. If your income is fairly consistent estimate based on your 2014 federal tax returns. You WILL need to update the application once your 2015 tax returns are filed.

4. Keep a file with all documents and correspondence from the financial aid offices you are dealing with.

5. Be sure to print the students’s name and social security number on any documents submitted, especially if the student’s last name is different then the parent’s.

6. If you have an usual family situation —loss of a job, foreclosure, bankruptcy, divorce/separation or death of a parent, contact each individual college AFTER the FAFSA is submitted to ask what their Professional Judgement or Appeal Process is.

7. Read your Award Letter carefully. Know what action you must take. Do you need to accept and return a copy of the award letter? Do you need to complete a Federal Student Loan Promissory Note online? Do you need to complete a Student Loan Entrance Interview?

Follow these tips and you should have a little trouble with applying and receiving financial aid for which you are eligible.

“Grandparents tell the best stories”: Get ready for the Great Thanksgiving Listen

Grandparents do tell the best stories. The holidays are a great time to learn about your family’s history, what inspired them, what struggles they overcame. Encourage your children, teens and young adults to engage with their elders. It can be a wonderful bonding and learning experience! Check out this wonderful piece by StoryCorps.


Source: “Grandparents tell the best stories”: Get ready for the Great Thanksgiving Listen