How to Pay Less for College – Tonight on #CampusChat

Suzanne Shaffer, founder of Parents Countdown to College Coach, will co-host #CampusChat with me tonight. She'll lead our discussion on how to pay less for college. Join us tonight at 9pm, Eastern, 8 Central, on Twitter. Follow/join the conversation by using the hashtag "#CampusChat."  If you have questions you'd like to us to cover, please post them in the comments section on this post.  For more information about CampusChat, see: What is CampusChat? Twitter Tools for #CampusChat You are invited to follow Suzanne on Twitter @SuzanneShaffer and Smart College Visit @collegevisit. To read contributions Suzanne has made on our site, click here. ...

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Beyond Tuition – the Add-ons to College Add Up
Jul07

Beyond Tuition – the Add-ons to College Add Up

You’ve written the BIG CHECK for college tuition, but don’t think you’re done yet — there’s more to come! In the following guest post Suzanne Shaffer, founder of Parents Countdown to College Coach, lists some of the tuition add-ons — additional expenses that often catch parents by surprise right before their child heads off to college.   Parents: Get ready to pay!  Your college-bound teen has made that all-important college decision and is headed off in the fall to begin his/her new adventure. You’ve got the tuition, room and board taken care of with scholarships, grants, work study and possibly some loans. You know that you’ve got to figure in some costs for textbooks, dorm accessories and possibly a laptop. But, is that all you have to factor in for expenses? It’s unlikely. Here are just a few added costs that can tack on hundreds and even thousands to your college costs: Health Insurance—Colleges require that your child be covered by insurance. You can keep them on your policy until they graduate, but if you don’t have family medical coverage, plan on spending $500-$1000 for this little extra. Be sure to notify the college of your coverage so they won’t bill you for theirs. Gym fees—Some colleges include these in tuition, but some don’t. Michigan State and Penn State charge for the use of their on-campus facilities (up to $80 per semester). Parking and car registration—Many campuses discourage freshmen from bringing cars to college. But if your teen is commuting, they are going to have to pay those fees to park while they attend classes. Activity fees—These pesky little buggers appear on your bill every semester. They can start at $100 and go up into the thousands. What are they? Every college uses them to offset expenses without having to state specifics. Dorm damage deposit—This fee will appear on your bill if your child is living on campus. Don’t EVER expect to get it back. College students are notorious for abusing their dorm rooms. Even if yours is a neat freak, odds are their roommate won’t be. Computer insurance—If your child is bringing a computer to campus (especially a laptop), I highly recommend you purchase this insurance. It covers loss, damage and theft and it’s worth every penny you will spend. Dorm contents insurance—Although most campuses say they are secure, students tend to leave their doors unlocked and let anyone into their dorm halls (even if they don’t know them). It’s worth the added minimal expense. College campus cards—These cards are used for on-campus necessities (laundry, snacks, copies, class supplies). It’s like a debit card and you will need to...

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Parent Coach Suzanne Shaffer on next #CampusChat
May10

Parent Coach Suzanne Shaffer on next #CampusChat

Hot Topic: When & How to begin the College Admissions Process Curious about the College Admissions Process? When should it begin and how to stay on top of all the info? Find out at #CampusChat on Twitter, Wednesday night, May 12 at 9 p.m. ET, 8 p.m. CT. Our guest this week is Suzanne Shaffer, @SuzanneShaffer, founder of Parents Countdown to College Coach. She's a parent who successfully completed the process and coaches other parents to do the same! Who should attend?  College-bound teens and their parents, college admissions officers, counselors and anyone interested in contributing to the topic about when the college admissions should begin are invited to join the conversation.    Plus, there's Give-Away! One lucky participant will win:  Organization: The Key to a Successful College Admissions Process – This CD provides parents and teens with a suggested filing system, along with templates and forms to help with the organization process. A winner will be selected from the list of Twitter participants (those who contribute to the...

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Don’t Pick a College Sight Unseen
Feb23

Don’t Pick a College Sight Unseen

As a parent of two kids who attended college, I learned a very valuable lesson: never pick a college sight unseen. The rules that apply to any major purchase are even more important when making the decision to invest thousands of dollars on a college education. You would never buy a car without test-driving it, or move into a home without taking a walk through and getting a home inspection. Based on my experience with both my kids, I can tell you that your teen should never accept admission to a college without getting a feel for the campus and campus life. My daughter had her heart set on attending a university in Boston. It was inexplicable to her father and me because she had never visited the city. But from the time she was a child she dreamed of going to college there. She worked hard in school and had the grades and the high school resume to assure her acceptance to just about any top-tiered college. She was indeed accepted to several colleges in the Boston area, receiving a full-ride scholarship to one of them. But, before signing on the dotted line, I suggested we plan a trip to all the schools, just to be sure she was happy with the college that offered her a 4-year scholarship. Needless to say, it’s a good thing we did. The minute we set foot on the campus she knew it was not for her. It was too small, there was no Greek life, and she did not seem to fit in with the student population. On the other hand, there was another college that had offered her a nice financial aid package and when she met with admissions, financial aid, and some students, felt completely at home. If she had opted to attend the university that gave her a full scholarship, she would have been home in a semester—there is no doubt in my mind. It was the college visit that sealed the deal and she spent four fabulous years in Boston, and two more as a graduate student. My son attended college after a four-year tour of duty in the Marine Corps. He chose a university based on the recommendations of his fellow marines. He never set foot on the campus or took the time to speak with any of the students or faculty before showing up for his first day of class. He found out that the college that he thought would be “social” on the weekends was a graveyard. Most of the students were local and went home to their families. Most of the freshman class...

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