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1001 Ogden Ave.
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Downers Grove, IL

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Why Net Price Calculators Are Hurting Middle-Income Families

Getting accurate Expected Family Contributions or EFC estimates are increasingly important to middle-income families trying to budget for college. Families, however, often ask me why the EFC estimates our office provides to them are coming in a lot higher than the estimates they are getting from their college net price calculators. So Why the Discrepancy? To increase transparency of the cost of college, in 2011, the Department of Education required that all colleges place Net Price Calculators on their websites so…

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Sorry…You Need to Take the ACT Writing Test!

"But I thought the writing test was optional!" Yes, indeed it is--for you. however, the ACT writing test is not optional to approximately twenty percent of colleges and universities. Imagine, if you will, this scenario: It is September of your senior year of high school. You worked hard to score well on the ACT--perhaps taking it two or three times--and in your hopeful preparations to apply to several schools, you discover that one of the schools you want to apply to requires applicants to complete the essay portion…

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Book Review: The End of College, Part 3: A Look At The Future

This blog is the third segment of an extensive review of Kevin Cary's book, The End of College, which proposes a new credentialing system that will upend traditional college credits and degrees. Coming soon:  A new college credentialing system In the next five years, students around the world will have a choice of over 5000 online courses featuring some of the best professors from our nation’s leading universities that they can take without cost. These online courses are the same courses,…

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Book Review: The End of College, Part 2: Finding The Solution

This blog is Part 2 of a three-part book review of Kevin Cary's, The End of College. So What Will Replace the Current Model? When we finally realize that we don’t really need a Gucci-priced education for our kids, we will still need something to replace it.  For starters, a new model requires great content and an effective way of delivering that content to the student. In 2013, something happened that put the wheels in motion of the coming transformation.   MIT…

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Book Review: The End of College, Part 1: Defining the Problem

For anyone interested in the future of higher education, Kevin Cary’s book, The End of College, is a well written and thought provoking story.  For a family with college-bound children it is a must read. Cary makes a compelling case that higher education is currently in the process of undergoing a radical transformation that most of us will see unfold over the next 10 to 20 years. Some commentators have suggested that this transformation will come at us “like a…

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Calculating Your College Budget: Real-Time Answers

Calculating your college budget can be a mysterious process.  Families have a difficult time predicting the awards.  In reality, there are still the real-time answers that only the college can answer for you to help prepare your college budget. Stephanie Kennedy was showing me the proprietary software used by her academic team to help families with the college search process.  I was quite impressed with how the software enables her team to quickly optimize a student’s opportunity for earning merit scholarships. Indeed, many…

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Award Letter

Should You Appeal Your Award Letter?

Final award letters will soon be coming to your mail box.  You will  finally know the exact amount of money you have to come up with to pay for college.  What’s next? Do you simply accept the offer from your favorite school? Do you appeal your award?  Or, do you go back to the drawing board and think it over for another month? Here are some important questions to ask yourself before attempting an  appeal: Has there been a change in your circumstances since…

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Budgeting and Fundraising for a Gap Year

Here are some tips from my experience as a gap year advisor about how to execute a Gap Year no matter your budget. Advice for Parents Budgeting Developing a budget early on in your planning process will make everything easier in the long run.  Many gap years are funded with parent and student contributions. Sit down with your child and discuss how much they can realistically put in and how much you feel comfortable contributing. If you feel uncomfortable giving…

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Take Another Swing: Retake the ACT!

The score you--or your college-bound kiddo--received on your ACT should rarely determine whether or not the exam is retaken. Unless the composite is well above 30 ( in which case the law of diminishing returns usually kicks in) any score from pretty darn terrific to pretty darn terrible warrants another giving it another go. Most Students Increase Scores It's quite simple, really. Because you control which schools receive which scores, there is absolutely no downside to retaking the test once,…

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Understanding Types of Scholarships

Have you ever wondered if you could earn extra money for college through scholarships?  No matter how good your grades are or how much money your parents make, you may qualify for hundreds of scholarships.  To improve your odds of winning a scholarship, you can start by learning about the different types of scholarships. The three main types of scholarships are merit, need-based and other.  Here is a brief description of each one and some little-known facts that will give…

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