Ways to Attend College for Free

2012
08.14

Full scholarship schools are on the rise, according to the following article from Yahoo. Read below to find ways to attend college for no cost.

Ways to Attend College for Free” Yahoo.com, August 6, 2012

Tuition-Free Schools

Recent graduate Greg Serrao saved nearly $150,000 earning his college degree by attending one of the country’s tuition-free universities.

The 23-year-old just finished his degree at Cooper Union in New York City, where tuition is technically listed as $37,500 per year. But for the approximate 8% of applicants who get accepted each year, that cost disappears, thanks to a four-year scholarship…

click here to read the full article

Update Feb 2012

2012
02.03

Hi everyone,

We hope you’ve been enjoying our financial aid advice for the past two years.  We’ve enjoyed your comments, questions and insights.

Please feel free to peruse the site to help you in your financial aid quest.  And please note: we’ll be adding small posts of interest from time to time, but the main content is already on the site.  Thank you for your interest in WPC.

~ WPC team

Learn From My Financial Aid Mistake

2011
06.13

At White Picket College, we try to remain honest.  So for the sake of honesty, I have to reveal the major financial aid mistake I made way back in 2007 and why it’s haunting me today.  It all starts with my financial aid award letter.

Happy as a clam, I found out I was accepted into my fancy, private university, Master’s program via phone call in spring 2007.  Oh how delighted I was!  I wasn’t sweating it about financial aid, I mean I made nothing back then, so I was sure the university would give me a boatload of money.

My financial aid award letter arrived in the mail.  Fingers trembling, I opened it with excitement, which lasted a very short minute.  I learned that I had received NO student grants or scholarships.  Just Stafford loans, subsidized and unsubsidized.  I was crushed and mourned my loss of government and school aid for days.  Then I sucked it up and accepted the university’s offer.

Fast forward to today, June 2011.  I am unemployed and pounding the virtual pavement to no avail.  I have a Master’s degree from a fancy school and in this economy, it makes me look more expensive to potential employers, hence no job offers.  And my student loans are weighing me down.

I have two hefty student loans.  Right now, I’m paying one via the interest only option, so my payments are much smaller.  Last month, I had to call Sallie Mae and lower the other loan to interest only as well.  That brings me to pay $234 total per month.  But as of March 2012, I will be paying $600 total per month for seven to eight years on the 10-year, payoff plan.

I’ve learned two lessons.  20/20 hindsight (of course!), I should have applied to other universities–even if I didn’t want to go–to make myself more lucrative to the university of my choice.  I only applied to one school.  My second lesson is I accepted the university’s financial aid package.  I didn’t try to negotiate.  But what leverage would I have had if I only applied to one school?

I share my wisdom with you.  If you are applying to a Bachelor’s or Master’s program, apply to many schools that are of the same competitiveness or better.  This will make you more sought after.  And if the school wants you, they will pay more.

And don’t just lie down and take their offer.  Negotiate.  Make an appointment with a Financial Aid Officer.  Exhaust every resource until you get more money.  Wish I did.

Today, you may be thinking, “The economy will be better by the time I graduate, so I’ll get a good job and a $500 monthly loan payment will be easy.”  That’s what I thought, but reality kicked my butt, and here I am unemployed and bogged down with loans.

So please think way ahead of time.  Plan for a slow economy.  Plan for reality.  In two to four years, the economy could be much better … and it could be worse.  Either way, make sure you’re financially ready for it.

~ the WPC team


$3.4 Billion in Free Scholarships.

© White Picket College, 2010 – College Funding for the Upper Middle Class

Scholarship Reminder: Stuck At Prom

2011
05.09

For all you prom-goers out there who want a one-of-a-kind look on prom night, remember the Stuck At Prom Contest.  Win scholarship money and look fabulous for your big night out.

To all the juniors and seniors in high school … Have a wonderful, memorable prom, but please remember to act responsibly.

~ the WPC team

© White Picket College, 2010 – College Funding for the Upper Middle Class

Graduating Seniors, Tips for Finding Jobs

2011
04.25

The good news is job growth is on the upward trend.  When I was laid off in May 2008, I searched online relentlessly for a new job.  All I could find were “unpaid internships” and I wasn’t even entry level.  So I decided to try human-to-human contact by attending a career fair at my graduate school.  I went to the booth of a magazine I thought would be a good fit and the woman kept pushing an unpaid internship on me.  I told her I had 10 years of professional writing experience and over three years experience as an editor.  And all she could offer me was a job for no pay.

That was basically my story for 2008, 2009 and 2010.  I have to admit I gave up after a while and continued to freelance.  Then I started looking for permanent jobs again last month and much to my surprise, I was finding jobs in my field, at the mid-level range.  I was also seeing more entry level jobs for graduating seniors.

Though there are more jobs, the competition is still fierce.  Thus, as a graduating senior, you have to find ways to make yourself stand out.  To help you on your search, I’d like to point out a CNN article entitled “Boost your odds of finding a job.”  Writer Jen Haley provides tips and useful websites for job seekers.

I also tuned in to MSNBC this past weekend and found out about TwitJobSearch.com.  It’s Twitter for us job seekers.  You can refine searches by job title, date Tweeted, city, salary, skills and job type (freelance, full-time, part-time).

Best of luck to all of you (and to me)!

~ the WPC team


Job.com Gear For Your Career

© White Picket College, 2010 – College Funding for the Upper Middle Class

Take a look around WPC

2011
04.18

We’re excited to say we’ve been around for one year (as of April 5)!  Therefore, it’s time to regroup and see what YOU want for the next year.  So please write to us via our Contact Us page and tell us what you need for college financial planning.  We’re happy for any suggestions and we’ll promptly respond to your email.

In addition, please take a look around White Picket College and read our host of informative articles and blog posts.  In the meantime, we’ll be taking a few weeks to update the site and make some major decisions.  Thank you for your support and enjoy WPC!

~ the WPC team

© White Picket College, 2010 – College Funding for the Upper Middle Class

529s Make a Comeback

2011
04.11

It’s all about the 529 plan again.  Before 2008, everyone was into 529s and then suddenly after stocks dropped, parents stopped saving with these plans.  However, 529s are still a great way to save for college.  As you invest money in the plan, it will grow tax-deferred.  Even better, when it’s time to withdraw, if you do so for qualified education costs, you can withdraw tax-free.  There’s no better plan out there for parents, grandparents and other family members who want to help save for a child’s education.

These days, you have to be careful about choosing the right 529 plan.  A great resource to look at is Savingforcollege.com.  For example, they rank the top performing 529 plans of 2010.  This is extremely helpful in knowing how to select the right plan for you and your future student.  And keep in mind, plans vary by state–every state has different plans with different sets of rules.  So make sure you know where your money is going.

If you’re getting your feet wet for the first time, we also have an article entitled 529 College Savings Plans to explain the basic nuances of a 529.  Get to know the ins and outs of your plan.

For upper middle class (UMC) parents especially, investing in the right 529 could be a game changer.  It can set you on a path to organized college financial planning.  We highly recommend picking up Suze Orman’s Action Plan (revised from 2009) and checking out the Paying for College chapter, which goes into detail about how you set up your 529 depending on how many years until your child starts college.

Start saving properly for college today and you’ll worry less tomorrow.

~ the WPC team

© White Picket College, 2010 – College Funding for the Upper Middle Class

Book Review of Suze Orman’s Action Plan

2011
04.04

Suze Orman’s Action Plan was on my reading list for a while and I finally got to it.  While reading, I was happy to see that Orman’s advice was right on par with White Picket College.  She even has an entire chapter called Paying for College.  Reading the chapter pretty much mirrored what we discuss here at WPC, but I was fascinated to find out her opinions on currently taking out a 529 plan and a PLUS Loan.  These two topics will be addressed in future posts.

I was most intrigued by the Retirement section–not only for myself, but for the readers here at WPC.  If you’re like me, 20 or more years away from retirement, you’ll find Orman’s stock advice to be very surprising.  Even my fiance, who is very organized in regard to his retirement fund and has a financial planner, was surprised by her advice.

In the revised from 2009 edition, Orman added a chapter entitled Kids and Money.  Quite frankly, I love this section because it shows parents how to financially educate their kids.  It may sound easy, but Orman addresses tough questions.  For example, what do you do when your brother and sister-in-law give your children extravagant gifts … but you can’t do the same thing in return?  It’s a good question, right?  As I read it to myself, I was thinking, I’m not sure what I’d do if I was a parent in this situation.  Orman answers a lot of tricky questions like this, including ones about kids in college or right out of college.

I highly recommend Suze Orman’s Action Plan.  It’s only $9.99 and very much worth the small price.  Remember to buy the “revised and updated (edition) from Suze Orman’s 2009 Action Plan.”  Happy reading to all of our followers!

~ the WPC team

© White Picket College, 2010 – College Funding for the Upper Middle Class

College in Three Years (Not Four)

2011
03.28

Since our readers are still receiving their financial aid award letters, we’re trying to offer solutions to make college more affordable.  If the college hasn’t given your family the money you desire, you must find a way to meet unmet need.  One solution we discussed last week was to negotiate with the financial aid officer.  This week, we’re offering a totally different solution.

How about the idea of speeding up college?  Can you finish an undergraduate education in three years?  The answer is yes, especially if the student is highly motivated.  Many students could probably graduate in 3.5 years, but the three-year plan would be so much more affordable.  You could save thousands upon thousands of dollars in tuition, fees and, especially room and board.

Here are some ideas to graduate in three years:

  • The student can take required courses at a local community college (for a MUCH cheaper price) and get the credits transferred to her/his regular college.  It’s always best to check with the college first.
  • During the regular semester, the student can take as many classes as possible without overworking her/himself.  You must check with the college before doing so because, for example, my Alma mater only allows students to take four classes per semester.  To take a fifth class, students need the dean’s permission.
  • A student should partake in summer session classes, which are often much cheaper.  S/he can take 2 to 3 classes every summer.
  • Also, think about a winter session class.  This is becoming more popular with colleges.  Each class is an intense 2-week course where the student can earn 4 credits.

This idea may not be for everyone, especially for those who want to enjoy all four years of the college experience and graduate with their classmates.  But for those students who are concerned about money and cost comes first and foremost then a three-year college plan may be the right choice for them.

~ the WPC team

© White Picket College, 2010 – College Funding for the Upper Middle Class

Race to Nowhere, Do We Put Too Much Pressure on Our Kids?

2011
03.16

American Kids Overworked?

Have you heard of the new documentary Race To Nowhere?  I just found out about it today.  It’s a film by Vicki Abeles that details how we, as Americans, put too much pressure on our kids to excel, especially with the hopes of getting into an excellent college.  These kids are so stressed they miss school due to physical ailments brought on by stress.  They also resort to dangerous measures such as cutting and suicide.

I found this an interesting concept.  I usually hear the opposite, that American kids are more apathetic, less hardworking and could care less about their education these days.  However, this documentary explores the world of kids who want to succeed badly and the education and communal system that are failing them miserably.  But it’s not only the kids.

Parents, teachers and the US government all put massive demands on our kids.  And the end goal is to acceptance into a perfect college.  Does any of this sound familiar as an upper middle class parent?

I have a clear memory of a job I worked at during my college summers.  A boss of mine brought in his 16-year old son, who was in the process of studying for his SATs.  The father asked me what college I was attending, and I told him the name of my prestigious school (not an Ivy).  He was impressed and then said to his son that he needed to do better on his SATs to get into my school.  I responded, “the SATs don’t weigh that much. I did a lot of community service and extracurriculars.”  The son said, “See Dad?”  My boss yelled at his son in front of me and said the SATs were crucial and he had to do better.

13 years later, I haven’t forgotten the look on that kid’s face.

So do we put too much pressure on our kids to succeed?  Is this more of an upper middle class to upper class problem?  And what about the kids who could care less about school and succeeding?

Another example of stress to succeed is the Manhattan mother who is suing her child’s preschool for ruining the child’s chances of getting into the Ivy League.  The child is 4 years-old.  It all seems a bit ridiculous, especially when you learn that a mere preschooler is prepping for a standardized test.

Well, maybe I’m too judgmental.  So I’d like your opinion.  Are we pushing our kids to the limits?

~ the WPC team


$3.4 Billion in Free Scholarships.

© White Picket College, 2010 – College Funding for the Upper Middle Class