Ep. 79 Get Your Kids Through College Debt Free

College Debt Free

Jeannie Burlowski

I am quite sure most parents wish their child could get through college debt free. The challenge in today’s economy is how to pull it off successfully. Our guest on the podcast, author, speaker and academic strategist Jeannie Burlowski  tells us how to do it. She recently released her latest book LAUNCH: How to Get Your Kids Through College Debt Free and Into Jobs They Love Afterward which is available on AMAZON now.

Jeannie’s writing and speaking helps parents set their kids up  to graduate completely debt free and move directly into career they excel at and love. Her mission is to help students identify extraordinary goals and put together a road map to achieve those goals.

The goal of the book LAUNCH: How to Get Your Kids Through College Debt Free and Into Jobs They Love Afterward is to guide parents step-by-step, grade-by-grade and provide over 50 strategies that they can use to get through college debt free which means that’s hundreds of hours they won’t have to spend searching for ideas on the internet.

For example, a busy mother of a 10th grader will just fly to the chapter she needs right at that moment, note a few tasks that would be a good idea to do right then and not come back to the book for two months.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Article: “5 Reasons “T-Shaped” is Better  Than Well-Rounded”

“Do What You Are…” by Paul D. Tieger

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


Dual Enrollment Programs

Financial Peace University (Dave Ramsey)



Follow her on Twitter – @JBurlowski

Follow her on FACEBOOK – @jeannieburlowski

Ep. 78 Track & Organize You Way Into College

OrganizeTodd and I have a great conversation with Jordan Schanda of SCHOLAR PREP, a college planning system to organize and document activities, achievements and courses. She starts off talking about her journey into college (University of Arkansas), how she was focused from the beginning and realized early on the benefit of organizing all of her information. When she graduated, she created a “binder” to help her younger brother whom she knew was not like her and needed a way to organize his information as an athlete wanting to go to college. The birth of the SCHOLAR PREP Organizer System.

This system now has an online companion course as well as a curriculum for schools and counselors to follow for students to get on the right track towards college.

If you are a counselor, we are aware of your limited time available to spend with each student.  This curriculum is the perfect compliment to your guidance or you can give this to the student for them to utilize with their parent as a supplement to the other college prep information that you share.

This system is designed to for the student/parent to be self sufficient in the college admission process. It guides you weekly an monthly in terms of what the student should be focusing on and not get overwhelmed. It has a timeline that you follow all four years of high school or pick it up anywhere in between.

Grab your copy of this college planning/tracking/organizing system or course. Click on the image to get your SCHOLAR Prep System.


Other Links mentioned in this episode:

Virginia Tech #HokieVisit

Kean University #KeanUniversity

University of New Haven #UNewHaven

Rowan University #RowanPROUD

WARNING! Can Senioritis Ruin Your Child’s Chance of Scholarships?



Yes. It. Can.






Senioritis is a colloquial term mainly used in the United States and Canada to describe the decreased motivation toward studies displayed by students who are nearing the end of their high school, college, and graduate school careers.

Senioritis is really an affliction that only (allegedly) affects students in their senior year. Many of you parents might see it creeping up sooner. The evidence might be disinterest in sports or extra curricula activities, apathy or even reckless behavior. They believe that since they know where they want to go (after high school), may have already earned a scholarship or financial aid that they don’t have to keep up their grades. THAT IS THE WRONG ATTITUDE.

Let me tell you why. THIS is the time of the year when most parents and students begin to realize that although they are excited about college, they really can’t pay for it. IF they can, they probably only have enough for the first year. This is where scholarships are vital to most students STAYING in college all four years.

The nonprofit organizations that govern and dispense scholarships look very closely at your child’s GPA and class rank from high school.  They want to see that the student has been disciplined about maintaining their grades throughout a stressful senior year. This is an indicator to them that he/she is ready to handle college level courses and they want to reward them for that.  If they see that the first 2.75 years of high school were great and then there is this steep decline, they will think something is physically wrong with your child or it shows a lack of focus all the way to the end. Senioritis can cause a dramatic downward turn in their grades and performance. DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO THEM!

There are a lot of additional scholarships that are based solely on MERIT from the college and universities themselves. They have discretion whether or not to award MERIT aid to you.  Your child’s grades are not the only deciding factor but it is ranked high on the checklist.

Use the last semester in senior year and all summer long after graduation (we know there will be some parties along the way) to look and apply for as many scholarships as possible. If you as the parent make this a priority and condition to continue in college, your child will take it seriously.  Part of their apathy is that there may be a disconnect between them and being aware of what COLLEGE REALLY COSTS TO ATTEND and WHAT YOU AS THE PARENT CAN AFFORD.

Don’t let SENIORITIS ruin their opportunity to shine bright and qualify for scholarships. They can start to apply as early as junior year and continue all throughout the college years. We at The College Money Maze discuss and post scholarships regularly on our podcast as well as on our FACEBOOK GROUP. 

Need assistance finding scholarships? We have the experience finding scholarships for incoming freshman, current undergrads and graduate students. CONTACT US NOW!

Ep. 76 Lead the Way: How to Build Character & Get Into College (PLUS: Charlie’s Test Scores)

CharacterIn today’s episode, we talk in detail about how to build good character in a student throughout their high school years. Character is one of the four core principles of getting into college. The other three are communication skills, coursework and community.

Character is not something we are generally born with. It is molded and developed over a period of time and shaped based on environment and life experience. A student can build upon their character through participation in programs that give them an opportunity for leadership, community service and extra-curricular activities in school.

If your child participates in a club such as boy scouts, girl scouts, 4H club, any youth auxiliary of a church, sorority or fraternity (such as Kappa League or Zeta Archonettes #ZPHIB1920) provides them with an opportunity to hone their leadership skills though projects and working with other youth.

Every city or town has plenty of community service opportunities for our youth. They have to pick one that interests them. It also helps if parents model this behavior by participating themselves in either a nursing home, soup kitchen, canned food drives, recue animal shelter etc…

I talk about a friend of mine whose child is a graduating senior with very good grades but absolutely no  school or outside activities in the past four years. This sends the wrong message to colleges. They appreciate a well-rounded student that is able to manage their time between activities. It shows them you have mastered discipline, commitment, dedication, time management and character development. My friend even mentioned that they could have gotten more merit aid if her son had more to offer (in terms of his profile or resume). DON”T LEAVE MONEY ON THE TABLE.

Foundations that give out scholarships look for the same stellar character as colleges do. It tells them that you have not just focused on grades (which are important) but can also represent their organization by how you show up in the world.


We also have a bonus appearance from Charles Lovett. He talks about his leadership skills, extra-curricula activities and volunteer service. He also talks about  his recent test scores from the ACT & SAT. We end our conversation talking about the importance of improving his grammar and writing skills as it relates to test taking. The best way to do this is through READING MORE BOOKS! (womp womp womp…)

Ep. 58 Didn’t Get Enough Financial Aid? Here Are Your Other Options + Delaware Goes To College

didnt-get-enough-financial-aidWe want everyone who resides in the State of Delaware to know that Gov. Jack Markell cares deeply about  students going to college offsetting the high cost of a the education.  The State Department of Higher Education has partnered with several local high schools to present workshops for parents and students:

  • FAFSA Submission Workshop for Seniors – Thursday Oct. 13th 5-7pm @ Indian River High School
  • College Scholarship Workshop & Fair – Wednesday Oct 26th 6-8pm @ Indian River High School

Visit their website HERE for other schools that have events planned.

Also note that several Community Colleges in the State of Delaware are waiving the cost of college applications from October 17th through November 18th for Delaware residents.  This is a great cost savings. Visit the website for more information: delawaregoestocollege.org


This episode is about what you can do when your financial aid runs out.  I came across an article from USATODAY that gives some guidance on this issue. There are many parents and students that we have talked to since starting this business and podcast that are in this troubling position in which they did not get their financial aid package renewed or the amount they received did not cover anywhere near the cost of their college.  You might be wondering what can you do at that point?  Here are 3 suggestions of how to deal with the gap between what the school costs and what you can afford:

1.       FILL OUT THE FAFSA NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOUR FAMILY EARNS – the FAFSA creates doors of opportunity for you to qualify for need-based aid, work-study assignments and institutional scholarships

2.       SPEND TWO HOURS A WEEK (MINIMUM) APPLYING FOR SCHOLARSHIPS –  We advocate looking for scholarships consistently and with an intensity as if it were a part-time job.  Don’t waste your time on sweepstakes, scams or other contests.  Invest in a specific plan to outline your skills, objectives and match them with the offers available online.  Ask your parents if their employer offers scholarships, start locally with non-profits and foundations.

3.       BORROW STUDENT LOANS WISELY – It pains me to even write this – BUT, If you have to take out student loans, READ THE FINE PRINT! Understand what you are signing.  Federal loans should be your first option, those that are subsidized don’t accrue interest while you’re in school and have flexible payment options. Then there are private loans, unsubsidized federal student loans or PARENT PLUS loans which have high interest rates and additional fees.

Links mentioned in this episode:

JOIN OUR FACEBOOK GROUP – The College Money Maze Community

State of Delaware Scholarship website

Essay Edge – We are an Affiliate Partner with them.  They are the PREMIERE essay editing service with Harvard Trained editors!

Ep. 52 The College Money Puzzle Part 1: EFC & Net Price Calculator

The College Money Puzz;e 1The College Money “PUZZLE” consists of four pieces – EFC (expected family contribution), Net Price Calculator, Financial Aid and Scholarships that when used “strategically” can help you figure out how to pay for college. This begins our two-part series to talk in depth about these pieces of the puzzle that are uniquely intertwined and interconnected. We will begin with Expected Family Contribution and Net Price Calculator.

 According to this January 31, 2014 Forbes article by Tony Onink, you
can have a household income up to $425,000 and still qualify for some financial aid.
  It is just a matter of the number of dependents and type of school that you apply to, either public/private as well as two-year vs four-year college or university.

In this episode, we discuss why you should know your EFC (expected family contribution) and use the Net Price Calculator to find out the “true cost” of the college that you are looking at.  Every college and university has some sort of calculator on their website, you just have to find it.  They don’t really want you to know what it will cost.  The “real cost” consists of tuition + room & board+ fees – EFC- Merit Aid/scholarships= balance or gap.  This gap is what you have to be worried about.

Your EFC will usually not change from year to year.  If you have more than one child in college, your EFC is split between the children.  That is a good thing because you will likely receive more financial aid as a result.  Stay tuned for Part 2 next week: Scholarships & Financial Aid.

Links mentioned in this episode:

Ep. 25 FAFSA Pt. 1: Getting Organized

Ep. 26 FAFSA Pt. 2: EFC & CSS

Net Price Calculator

SAT Registration

ACT Registration

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Ep. 49 SAT Subject Tests, Are they Worth It?

This is a conversation about the SAT and why you should consider studying and taking the SAT Subject Tests. There is a link HERE to the dates (Oct. 1st, Nov 5th & Dec 3rd) for the upcoming subject tests (mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, french, german, spanish, modern hebrew, italian, & chinese).

SAT Subject Tests...


You may be asking yourself, WHY SHOULD I TAKE THE SUBJECT TESTS? Is it worth it? These are valid questions especially since there are additional fees with the subjects tests that range from $46-$72 dollars.

Here are several reasons why you should consider taking the subjects tests:

  • Colleges may require these test scores for specific majors.  This will differentiate you from other applicants.
  • Shows that you have an accomplishment beyond the basic high school curriculum and can add this to your college admission profile.
  • Shows to colleges your interest and commitment to that college and major.
  • Can fulfill a requirement for extra college credit
  • For those students in which English is not their first language, it shows an additional strength on their part.
  • For international students as well, it shows that they are disciplined to do the extra studying in that subject


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Other links mentioned in this episode:
The SAT vs. The ACT


College Board

Summer Guide for Juniors

Summer Guide for Seniors

South Plainfield High School Class of 2016

Ep. 48 The Summer Guide for Seniors


Ultimate Summer Guide for Seniors


HELLO SENIORS! SUMMER IS HERE!  What are you and your friends doing this summer? Are you maximizing your time to get ahead of the other seniors at the beach and prepare for the college admission madness? THIS IS THE ULTIMATE SUMMER GUIDE FOR SENIORS. Here is a general list of activities that we suggest your or your high school senior consider this summer:

  1. Narrow down the college lists
  2. Conduct your final college visits
  3. Search for and secure that internship
  4. Take another SAT/ACT practice test
  5. Begin your college applications and essays
  6. Are you considering early decision? THEN YOU MUST complete your applications NOW!
  7. Consider observing someone you admire or that is a mentor in their job
  8. Study all things college finances: FASFA, EFC, NET PRICE CALCULATOR, Compare costs of schools to see what your budget will allow
  10. Volunteer for more community service experience and opportunities to add to your “profile”

Tell us in the comments below what YOUR SENIOR is doing this summer!

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NEW WORKSHOP – Craft A Winning College Application August 13 – August 14 

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Ep. 47 The Summer Guide for Juniors




How will your child and the other High School Juniors spend their summer? Will they be laying around playing video games? Will the juniors be working at a summer job at the beach? Will they be reading a book a week to or preparing for the SAT’s? Using the summer months wisely is the name of the game to improve your profile and be a more attractive applicant to colleges and scholarship committees next year.


Here is a suggested list of activities for Juniors that is discussed in this episode:

  1. Find a mentor/Internship/Conduct a Job Observation.
  2. Begin to assess your college priorities: small school vs. large school/ private vs. public/ instate vs. out-of-state etc…
  3. Conduct College visits for the summer, make a vacation out of it.
  4. Take this time to get some volunteering done and on that resume!
  5. READ! READ! READ! 30 minutes of reading will improve their writing/speaking skills
  6. Find a summer job and get that MONEY and EXPERIENCE you are looking for.
  7. Take a test-prep course or a practice SAT/ACT test during the summer.

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Ep. 46 What Does It Take to Become a Citizen Scholar?

Are you a citizen scholar?

Are you a citizen scholar?

It is graduation time, school is finishing up and are you wondering if your child has demonstrated leadership and excellence to become the schools newest citizen scholar? Does your child have the magic formula or profile?

I came across a pull-out section – “Citizen Scholar 2016“from my local newspaper – The Intelligencer­. This really caught my attention in that this newspaper, along with the Bucks County Courier Times gives out these awards to the best and brightest students in the county.

The criteria is that the guidance counselors from each high school would nominate three students and the judges on the panel would make the final selections. The judges selected one person from each high school in Bucks County.  There are about 34 students that are profiled in this insert section, each with a picture and summary of their background, accomplishments and future academic endeavors.

What we talk about in this podcast are the qualities, characteristics, behaviors that all (or most) of these students have that is noteworthy for students beginning their journey onward and upward.  For example, many of the students:

  • Play one or more musical instruments
  • Participate in one or more school clubs or organizations
  • Have made community service a priority with consistent participation
  • Many are athletes that compete in different sports
  • All of excelled academically with a minimum GPA of 3.8+
  • And one student is in the JROTC program

High School can be really hard for some students.  Those that excel find a way to get it all done.  They are organized, passionate about what they do and focused on their goals of higher education.  This is their time to explore different interests, showcase their talents & skills and find ways to give back to others.  This is what makes for a great “profile” to college admissions and scholarship committees who are looking for well-rounded students that can handle challenges and have something to offer.

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