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How to Choose the Right College

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In College Planning & Financial AidLendKey

Each year, students all across the country are faced with the arduous task of choosing a college that is the right fit for them. Whether you’re a high school senior researching colleges for the first time, or a nontraditional student returning to school after a long break, choosing where you want to go to college is a highly personal and sometimes stressful decision. There’s a lot to consider when trying to find a college that’s a good fit. So how do you choose the school that’s the best fit for you? Below we highlight some of the most important considerations …

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Affording College: What Are My Payment Options?

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In College Planning & Financial AidLendKey

Affording College: What Are My Payment Options? The cost of attending college has risen drastically over the past two decades. Since 1995, tuition at public universities has risen by over 296 percent, out of state tuition is up 226 percent, and the cost of attending private universities has risen by 179 percent. The sharp increase in college tuition has left students and their families wondering what the best option is when choosing a college. For a number of families, a student’s financial aid package may be the deciding factor in whether or not they pursue a college education. As such, …

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The Importance of College Planning in April

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In College Planning & Financial AidLendKey

It’s finally April! The college choice process has officially begun. This is an incredibly exciting time, but also one that brings about a series of seasonal questions for graduating high school seniors and their families as they make their decisions on where they go to college. A college education has been the platform in which American success stories have been built for decades, but the costs of college can also become a burden for many people as they enter their career fields. Careful college planning is paramount to navigating the path between a student’s future financial freedom and hardship.  As …

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8 Tips for Finding Scholarships

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In College Planning & Financial AidLendKey

College isn’t getting any cheaper. Between 2001 and 2012, tuition and fees increased 5.4% above inflation annually while funding per student at state universities plummeted. Student debt in the United States is increasingly burdensome, and funding a college education is now the second greatest financial challenge for families after retirement. There are a number of ways to pay for tuition, but not all of them are in our students’ best interests. Saving money through a 529 plan isn’t always possible, and with the average credit card debt standing strong at $15,325 per household, plastic probably isn’t the way to go. …

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Graduating on Time: A Push for Quality Retention

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In College Planning & Financial AidLendKey

Retaining students through all required years of college and seeing them through graduation has become a major priority. President Obama announced in February 2009, the goal of the United States having the highest proportion of college graduates. In order to hit this goal, colleges will have to improve their ability to keep students in school so they can finish. Many schools all over the country are taking on this challenge by strengthening their retention programs. Here are just a few schools that have done well in their retention and graduation statistics recently. The Connecticut State University System reports that “More …

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5 FAQs: Before you Submit Your College Deposit

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In College Planning & Financial AidLendKey

Deposits for college begin with an initial May 1st due date. Many may still be unsure of their choices, but before submitting a deposit, consider the following. 1. Did you determine your financial aid eligibility renewal requirements? Be aware of how your bill is paid, and what you need to do to keep the funding. Know your renewal requirements for scholarships and make sure to maintain the minimum GPA to keep them. Need-based funding like Grants could change year-to-year based on income information in the FAFSA, so stay aware during the annual FAFSA filing process. 2. Did you calculate student …

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How To Write The Perfect College Essay

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In College Planning & Financial AidLendKey

The essay is an extremely important part of your college application, because it tells admission officers things about you that they can’t possibly glean from your grades and test scores. Not only can a great essay showcase your personality, future promise, and writing skills – but it can also tip the scales in your favor if your credentials fall just short of the school’s requirements. But – your essay can only work for you if it really impresses the admission officers. Here’s how to make sure it does:     Read essays that worked.   Before you begin writing, read …

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5 Expenses to Avoid Freshman Year

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In College Planning & Financial AidLendKey

As a new college freshman, the excitement of starting school probably isn’t the only thing on your mind. With tuition rates at around $31,231 a year for a private four-year college, the cost of your education likely has you pretty worried and looking for ways to save money. While there’s not much you can do to save on tuition and room and board (other than choosing a less expensive school), there are expenses that you can reduce or skip altogether. With that said, here are the five key expenses we recommend avoiding during your first year of school if you …

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6 Reasons Families Should Visit Colleges Early

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In College Planning & Financial AidLendKey

A growing trend for families is making college visits during a student’s Sophomore or Freshman year of high school. In the past it was commonplace for high school students to make college visits during Junior year, or during the Fall of Senior year. But times have certainly changed. Taking early college visits is a good idea for parents and students that are trying to make a college decision; here are reasons why. 1. Visualization Being able to walk on campus and get a feel for the environment is important. The student can see themselves as part of the community. Get …

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Who Offers In-State Tuition for Out-of-State Students?

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In College Planning & Financial AidLendKey

Qualifying for in-state tuition can have a huge impact on the amount of student debt you’re stuck with after graduation. According to The College Board, in-state students pay an average of just $9,410 a year, compared to $23,893 for non-residents. That’s a tremendous difference in cost that can be avoided, but not in the ways you might expect. For example, many students think that moving to their chosen state for a year to establish residency will do the trick. However, most schools frown upon that tactic and have employed even stricter residency requirements to counteract it. In other words, there’s …

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8 Tips to for Families to Avoid Scholarship Scams

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In College Planning & Financial AidLendKey

The email starts out great. An institution wants to offer your child a scholarship, and they barely need anything from you! Just a credit card number, social security number, bank account information… Maybe this isn’t such a great opportunity. Financial aid scams are increasingly common and increasingly difficult to spot. Parents want to believe that their children have qualified for financial aid, and it can be hard to admit that this offer is not real. Here are the big ones to look out for, and how you can find financial aid with no strings attached: Having to pay a fee. …

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5 Questions You Must Ask Your Financial Aid Counselor

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In College Planning & Financial AidLendKey

With college costs rising at unprecedented rates, more and more students are turning to financial aid to help pay for their schooling. Unfortunately, the process of applying for aid can be a bit confusing and stressful. As such, it’s important to be prepared when you meet with your financial aid counselor at a prospective school. This will ensure that you ask the right questions and avoid unpleasant financial surprises once you begin your college career. To that end, here are the five questions you absolutely must ask your financial aid counselor before making any final decisions: Do you offer need-based …