Archive for January, 2011

How About Students Help Pay for College?


We always discuss how it’s the parents’ job to pay for college.  But what about students contributing to their education?  How will this help upper middle class (UMC) families who are struggling to put one child through college?

An ambitious student and hard worker, Zac Bissonnette, author of Debt Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching off My Parents, details how Zac, a college senior, pays for school.  He works full-time and chose a relatively inexpensive, in-state university.  His tactics worked and he will graduate completely debt free, quite a feat.  I watched Zac on CNN last week as he discussed statistics from Academically Adrift, which reports college students spend half their time socializing.  Zac said on CNN:

The average college student is drunk 10.2 hours per week. So if you think that your kids should not work during college …

He makes a good point.  Why can’t students work through college?  And why can’t they work before college even starts?

Unfortunately, the money the student makes before college will be accounted for in taxes and on the FAFSA.  And this lowers your chance of financial aid.  But if you find yourself without acceptable educational financial aid, a good solution is to have the student go to work.

Working before college and through college may seem like a punishment to some parents and students, but quite frankly, it’s what my parents did and the generations before them did.  Earning full-time money, instead of drinking or partying, will help the student receive must-needed work skills and life experience and teach them how to financially support themselves.

If a family really cannot afford to pay for college, another good solution is to have the student defer admission for a year.  S/he can use that year to work a full-time job or many part-time jobs and save up for college.

We realize these solutions may not be ideal for the UMC, but they’re practical.  Now more than ever UMC families must approach their financial decisions with pragmatism.  And students paying for their college education sounds like a good decision to us.

~ the WPC team

$3.4 Billion in Free Scholarships.

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

State of the Union, Will Education Be Addressed?


The State of the Union address is tonight, January 25, 2011.  Will President Obama address the topic of college education or not?  So far, it doesn’t seem a likely subject.

Education Week reports that sitting in First Lady Obama’s box will be a host of children who have excelled in math, science and technology.  There are only two college students featured.  Both students attend community college and study in the areas of math and science.

While we think it’s great to applaud the scientific and mathematical youth, and we applaud them as well, we’re left wondering for another year: when will college tuition rates be addressed?  The upper middle class (UMC) struggles year after year with the skyrocketing cost of college.  The government has already addressed the concerns of low income households as well as middle class households.  But alas, the UMC waits its turn with bated breath.

Perhaps Obama will discuss the exorbitant cost of college tonight.  If he does, we’ll be anxious to see his proposal on how to fix it.  If he doesn’t, we’ll be left disappointed after another year of being ignored.

Do we write to our elected officials?  What is the best method for UMC families to be heard during this college financing crisis?  Let us know what you think.

~ the WPC team

$3.4 Billion in Free Scholarships.

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

College Students & Psychological Problems


Even though we are a college financial aid website, we’d like to touch upon a recent and tragic subject: college students and psychological problems.  The January 2011 Arizona shooting opened all of our eyes, realizing that, yes, this terror can happen anywhere and at any time.

I read an article that discussed the severe psychological problems of college students today.  The statistics are shocking and horrifying:

Studies show more students are arriving on campus with mental health issues. A recent American College Counseling Association survey found 44 percent of students who visit college counseling centers have severe psychological disorders, up from 16 percent a decade ago. One in four students is on psychiatric medication, compared to 17 percent in 2000.

Colleges struggle to cope with troubled students, Associated Press –

This is a scary realization for many parents.  Sending your kid off to college is a frightening step, let alone the idea of s/he being involved in a school shooting.  But what happens if you’re on the flip side, the side no one likes to talk about?  In other words, what happens if your child is the one with the severe mental illness?

It seemed as if the father of the Arizona shooting suspect, Jared Loughner, knew all along about his son’s dangerous behavior.  When questioned, the father told authorities he saw his son leave the house with a black bag on that fateful day and questioned him about the bag.  When Jared gave no answer and left, the father jumped in his car and scanned the neighborhood for his son.  Jared had also been asked to leave a community college after five disturbing incidents.  So his parents must’ve had good insight into their child’s mental state.

But then there are others who do not fit the profile.  For example, the infamous University of Texas shooter was a quiet kid who excelled in academics.

Then there’s the prospect of a child being a danger to her/himself.  Unfortunately, college suicide happens frequently.  As a grad student at NYU, I knew the glass panels in the library were to stop suicide jumpers.  A rash of suicides occurred in 2003.  But sadly enough in 2009, a student climbed over the glass and jumped to his death.

In the late 1990s, I remember hearing the University of Notre Dame instructed parents of incoming freshmen on suicide warning signs in their children.  A kid on my freshman hall attempted suicide.  An acquaintance from high school, his freshman year roommate committed suicide …

The list goes on and on.  It’s not to scare our readers, but to get them to pay attention to their child’s mental state.  We’re not experts on mental illness, but please check with those who are experts such as:

The Jed Foundation


Take a look at these organizations to find resources for you and your college student.  We wish all of our students and parents a happy and safe spring semester.

~ the WPC

College Expenses Piling up

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

The Social Network & I Need Money for College


… I watched the Golden Globes last night.  The blockbuster movie “The Social Network” took home the big prize for best motion picture in the drama category.  I haven’t seen the movie (yet), but this big win made me think about how much Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms in general have helped me help all of you here at White Picket College.

Every week I have to find ideas and hot topics for blog posts and articles.  Sometimes, it can be a daunting task.  And many times, it can be a relatively easier task because ideas come to me or I use my good ole friend named Twitter.

When Twitter came out I was one of those people who scoffed at it.  I thought of it as a narcissistic device for egotistical people.  For example, I really didn’t care to hear what you just had for lunch or that your baby just burped.  I didn’t need to know about Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore’s every move through their tweets.  Thus, I stayed away from Twitter completely.

Then I realized the HUGE mistake I was making.  I could leave all the egomaniacs and fluffy celebs out of my tweeting existence.  So I started an account and signed up to receive tweets from informative sources such as: CNN, WSJ, US News & World Report (Kim Clark writes fantastic college financial aid articles), TIME, FastWeb, Sallie Mae and a plethora of sources for scholarships and other educational financial aid information.

With Twitter especially, I feel I can stay on top of everything and help all of our readers in a timely, efficient manner.  I strongly advise you to utilize Twitter too.  If your child is nearing or is in the college application process, start a family Twitter account.  Receive tweets from your child’s top choice schools and financial aid sources.  Educate yourself about the process and find free money along the way.

So I urge you to use social media to find college financial aid info.  Please join us on our Facebook page.  Just type in “White Picket College” in the search feature atop your FB page.  Also, receive our tweets on Twitter: @whitepicketcoll.

And remember, if you have a question, comment or request for White Picket College, simply tweet or Facebook us anytime!

~ the WPC team

College Expenses Piling up

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

Tax Credit Reminder!


UMC parents and students, it’s time that time again … tax time!  Yuck.  Well, don’t get depressed because students can write off interest while paying back their student loans.

Just click on this article to find out all the information:

Tax Credit for Student Loans: 1098-E Tax Deduction

Make your appointment with a highly reputable accountant today and enjoy the benefits of tax credit.  Best of luck in this tax season.

~ the WPC team

Scholarship Search for 2011


We understand that upper middle class (UMC) parents and students search for non-need based scholarships and non-need based financial aid.  It’s often a search that lasts all year long.  Those who receive the most financial aid start the earliest.  So it’s time to start your search for college scholarship money in January 2011.

White Picket College aids in your search.  We have a whole section entitled Non-Need Based Scholarships.  Simply click on the scholarship name in the pull down list and read about the requirements and deadlines.  No scholarship is under $1000 in award money.  To date, we have 30 scholarships listed and we’re working on more.

College Expenses Piling up

This is a great time to organize for the year and plan for deadlines.  Some scholarships will take a large amount of time, while others only have a few requirements that can be done quickly.  Either way, make sure to check out all the scholarship opportunities listed.

Keep in mind, if you win a few, smaller scholarships, that’s $3000.  No, it won’t pay your tuition, but it is some extra money for spending, books, fees, etc.  So make sure to submit applications to the scholarships you’re interested in.  Take this process seriously and apply when possible.

Don’t forget to continue checking as we add more scholarships.  Join us on Facebook or on Twitter @whitepicketcoll.

Best luck in your search for college scholarship money.

~ the WPC team

College Expenses Piling up

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

Let’s Talk Base Year


Parents and students, it’s time to discuss the Base Year.  What is the base year exactly?  It is the year colleges and the powers-that-be of the FAFSA examine; it decides a student’s financial aid award.  It starts from the student’s junior year in high school on January 1st to the student’s senior year in high school, ending on December 31st.

We must remind upper middle class (UMC) parents and students that the base year makes you or breaks you in regards to financial aid.  It sets the precedence for all four years of financial aid packages.  Unless you have a huge change in income (i.e. you lose your job, you win the lottery, you inherit thousands of dollars) in the four years the student attends college, the base year will determine what you receive in financial aid for all four years.

So you have to prepare to make your family look as poor as possible in this base year.  How do you do that?  There are many ways, which depends on an individual family’s situation.  Check out our Tax & Finance Help section for tips and suggestions.

This is IMPERATIVE to discuss with your family now because tax season is right around the corner.  A lot of ways to look poorer on paper is how you fill out your taxes.  If you’re about to fill out taxes for the base year, find a highly qualified accountant who is an expert in college financial aid.

Best of luck to UMC families who are in the base year or will fill out taxes for the previous base year.  Peruse White Picket College to find the best ways to ensure a better financial aid package.

~ the WPC team

College Expenses Piling up

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

Scary Credit Card Habits of College Students


So your child has been accepted to a great school.  And you’ve received a great financial aid package.  Congratulations!  It’s the first semester of school and your child starts receiving these letters from credit card companies.  One, two, three, four letters a month from four different companies.  They don’t look like advertisements–they look like bills!

So you open one then another then all of them only to find out: yes, they are indeed bills.  Your child, without your knowing, has signed up for four credit cards and owes hundreds of dollars in credit card debt.

In the September 2010 Newsweek article entitled “College Credit,” writer Angel Wu reports, “Half of college students have four or more cards, according to a 2009 Sallie Mae survey, and only 17 percent report regularly paying off their balance.”


If this startles you as a parent, it should.  I remember back to my college days when credit card companies would solicit students to sign up.  They lured in their young prey with perks and giveaways.

But the government said no more.  They put their foot down when creating the 2009 credit card reform bill.  Card issuers are not allowed anymore to offer giveaways on campus.  Students under 21 years of age cannot sign up for a credit card without a cosigner or they must prove they have disposable income.

Be careful when your child leaves for campus this semester.  Explain to them the dangers of credit card debt.  Set a reasonable limit on credit cards.  Parents can add their child as an authorized user on one of their credit cards or they can obtain a secured card for their child.

When I went away to school, my parents and I went to the local bank and opened up an account for me.  It was an emergency account and I understood this rule.  I never touched it in my four years at school.

I also had a credit card.  I hardly touched it.  I believe I used it for big purchases on study abroad or a big school purchase.  And I was responsible for paying the bill–not my parents.

I believe my parents did a good job of setting credit card expectations and spending limits with me.  Basically, I was to pay all my bills and emergency meant emergency.

So make sure to set the same types of limits with your kids.  You certainly don’t want them to graduate from college with student debt and credit card debt.  Have an honest and upfront talk with your college student today.

~ the WPC team

Upromise - Join Now 125x125

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