Application Process

How to Start Thinking about Financial Aid

Posted by on Jul 8, 2017 in Application Process, Juniors, Parents | Comments Off on How to Start Thinking about Financial Aid

How to Start Thinking about Financial Aid

College Calm’s class of 2017 received aid offers of over 1 MILLION dollars in merit aid per year- over 4 million dollars over 4 years.

We want to give you important information regarding college financial aid. Too often families wait to talk about college costs and finances until the end of the process. We at College Calm think it is important to begin to talk about college finances in conjunction with building a college list that reflects your family values. Clear communication is important so when a student is looking at colleges so everyone has  an idea of what is feasible for your family. Below we talk about the changes in the FASFA, need based aid, merit aid and ways to cut college costs. At the bottom you will find a student checklist for July. We hope you are having a wonderful summer.

First Steps

Now is the time to start thinking about how you and your family will deal with financial aid. Start by reading Lynn O’ Shaughnessy’s article,” Your Crucial 1st Step.”  She recommends that you start by determining your family’s expected contribution. You can go to the financial aid website for any of the schools on your list and use the net price calculator. It is now mandatory for every college to have a calculator for families to estimate financial contributions. The information requested usually mirrors questions asked on the FASFA and CSS Profile. Sometimes the net price calculator can be hard to find on a school website so the easiest way to locate it is to google the school name and “net price calculator.” Here are a few examples: Santa Clara, CAL, Tulane and USC. Lynn’s website, the College Solution is a great resource for college financial information. In addition, most high schools sponsor a school or district financial aid night right after winter break (or earlier). It is a good idea to attend.

Changes in the FASFA

There is a new acronym in financial aid that is dominating the conversations- PRIOR, PRIOR YEAR or PPY. Beginning in the fall of 2016, the FAFSA now opens for families to complete in October, rather than  the following January. This means that the FASFA will be asking for data regarding your 2016 tax return, rather than estimates of your 2017 return. Students and families will be able to fill out the forms earlier which will result in colleges being able to send financial aid packages out earlier. We recommend that students research each school on their list and add to their spreadsheet the deadlines for the forms required. If a student plans to apply early, many schools will need the CSS Profile or FASFA or both by early action/decision date in October and November.

Merit Aid

This year there were some colleges that awarded significant scholarships to College Calm students. Some of the most generous were: Tulane, U of Arizona, Chapman, Gonzaga, U of Puget Sound, Fordham, Connecticut College, TCU, UC Boulder, U of San Diego and U of Denver.

College Calm’s class of 2017 received aid offers of over 1 MILLION dollars in grants, scholarship and merit aid per year- over 4 million over 4 years.

For more schools that offer Merit aid, visit The New York Times useful and  interactive list of colleges that offer merit aid. You can sort the list by clicking on the column headings.

Western University Exchange (WUE)

If you are interested in out-of-state public institutions in the West, make sure to check out the Western University Exchange (WUE). WUE is a regional tuition reciprocity agreement between states that results in students paying a reduced out-of-state tuition. WUE students pay no more than 150% of the in-state tuition. Participating states include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming. Montana and Nevada automatically offer WUE to CA residents, but for other states  students need to apply to become a WUE student. Some schools participate on a very limited basis (U of Oregon and U of Arizona) and other not at all (Boulder and Arizona State). To learn more visit

Questions to ask Financial Aid Offices

If you are visiting colleges and want to discuss financial aid options, the Huffington Post article, “ 8 Financial Aid Questions You Must Ask,” is a great place to start.

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Building your Team

Posted by on Sep 4, 2015 in Application Process, Parents, Seniors | Comments Off on Building your Team

Building your Team


Getting into college is a team effort. You are the captain of your college application team, but you will need to surround yourself with individuals who can help make your college application shine. Your team should include your family, counselor, teacher(s) and College Calm! Below are some ideas regarding the roles that each group can play in helping your application be the best it can be.

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Building a Balanced College List

Posted by on May 8, 2015 in Application Process, Juniors, Parents, Seniors, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Building a Balanced College List

Building a Balanced College List

Foundation, Target, Reach and Lottery Schools

As juniors are beginning to investigate colleges and make an initial college list, we want to define the different categories potentially included in a balanced college list. A balanced college list should have at least 2 foundation, 2 target and 2 reach schools. Many students will also have a few lottery schools. The typical student applies to between 8-12 schools, depending on the number of UC/CSU schools on his/her list. All of our students begin with a list of at least 20 schools to investigate in an effort to determine personal priorities. By mid summer, students should have a balanced list of 8-12 schools. .


  • The college possesses most of the significant features you desire and are important to you.
  • You meet all the requirements for the recommended coursework.
  • Your SAT or ACT score is significantly above the average that was accepted last year.
  • Your un-weighted GPA is significantly above the average accepted last year.
  • Your objective academic credentials fall at the top of the college’s admitted class.
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October is “CRUNCH TIME”

Posted by on Sep 30, 2014 in Application Process, Seniors, Uncategorized | Comments Off on October is “CRUNCH TIME”

October is “CRUNCH TIME”

I just wanted to take a moment to remind everyone that we are heading into,  “college crunch time.”  (See below for a checklist of things to be doing)

I know that students are starting to feel the pressure regarding school, activities and the college process. I completely understand what they are feeling and recognize that they are feeling pressures from all sides. This, coincidentally, is also when I see students start to fall behind in the college process. Now really is the time that students need to be setting aside at least 2 days a week to be working on finalizing applications and essays. It is also time for all hands on deck to support them in completing the process.

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Posted by on Apr 3, 2014 in Application Process, Colleges & Visits, Juniors, Sophomores | Comments Off on APRIL- COLLEGE VISITS


As spring break approaches, we want you to take some time to focus on your college visits. In our sessions this month we will be going over, “Top Ten Ways to Test Drive a College,” originally published by IECA and a list of questions we put together that goes beyond asking things you can find on any college website.

Sample Questions for Tour Guides:

– Why did you decide to come to this school?

– What have you been most surprised about in your time here?

– How do students interact with faculty- inside and outside the classroom?

– Do students tend to stay on campus or get involved in activities in the surrounding area?

Sample questions for Admissions Officers:

– What impresses you the most in a student’s application?

– Is demonstrated interest a factor in your admissions decisions?

– What changes do you see taking place on campus in the next five years?

– Are the admission standards higher for certain majors?

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FEBRUARY- The College Search- How to find the college that is right for you

Posted by on Mar 4, 2014 in Application Process, Juniors, Uncategorized | Comments Off on FEBRUARY- The College Search- How to find the college that is right for you

FEBRUARY- The College Search- How to find the college that is right for you

I love this graphic as it is just the start to how 17-year olds can think about college. This month students are starting to investigate colleges to begin to determine what is important to them in their next educational adventure. This graphic comes from a New York Times article, “How to Choose a College” and I think it is a good read for both parents and students. The author presents s

ome of his suggestions of things to consider like the number of students from other countries (as a sign of an international environment) and the percentage of students who study abroad. The goal this month and the month to come is to really start to think about what is important to you, what you value in your education and how you can find a school that matches up with your priorities. Rest assured, many students change their priorities during the college process and we are adept at handing changes because all our students are still maturing and growing.

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