Ep. 53 The College Money Puzzle Part 2: Financial Aid & Scholarships

The College Money Puzz;e-2

This is the second and final part of our series on The College Money Puzzle.  In this episode, we focus on the fundamentals of financial aid and scholarships.

Mostly, this will give you the last two pieces of the puzzle to gain a thorough baseline understanding of all of the money factors with getting into and paying for college.

Financial aid can be awarded in the form of State Aid or Federal Aid. The most important first step is understanding that completing the FAFSA is the only way to find out if you qualify for any type of financial aid and even some institutional scholarships. Here are our best suggestions about money, financial aid and scholarships:

  1. Complete the FAFSA entirely, correctly and timely (or early starting in October 2016).
  2. Be consistent with your information from year to year.  Your money situation may change for any number of reasons.  If so, be honest and clear and provide supplemental documentation if necessary.
  3. Find out if the school(s) you are interested in are also requiring you to complete the CSS PROFILE.  This is an additional financial form which asks more specific questions about assets, investments and household income or resources.
  4. The Common Application is a great way to say money by avoiding the additional application fees when applying to multiple schools. You pay one fee and apply up to about 10 schools at the same time (saves money) with only one or two essays to complete. Now high school juniors can create an account, save their data and update it when they are ready.
  5. The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success application has more than 90 member colleges (most elite, private schools).  Double check your colleges for which application they accept.
  6. The Common Black College Application is available for those that want to apply to HBCU (Historically Black College and University).
  7. For Scholarships, start early and local.  There are many private foundation, local clubs and organizations that offer scholarships. Search where you live first.
  8. Have your student develop a close relationship with their guidance counselor who is often the gatekeeper in the high school when it comes to scholarships.  They often recommend students for local scholarships for various reasons.
  9. Check with your employer, especially if you work in corporate that may offer scholarship money to the community and to the children of their employees.
  10. If you are not a member of a fraternal organization, I am sure you know someone who is.  Minority Greek-letter organizations focus on education and offer scholarships to youth.
  11. Do a general search on the internet by topic (Math, Biology, English, etc…). Use a major search engine to narrow down the focus.
  12. Try not to disqualify your scholarship application by not filling it out completely, answer all of the questions.
  13. Do not go over the word count. Have someone else review the essay.
  14. Finally, commit to at least 1 hour each day or time on the weekend to search and complete scholarship applications. Act like it’s a PT JOB!

Links mentioned in this episode:

Brown School Senior Wins $1 Million in Scholarships (Check out the video)

Ep. 50 Unique Summer Scholarships

Ep. 45 Gap Year, Alumni, What If I Lose My Financial Aid?

Ep. 41 Why Millennials can’t get State Financial Aid

Ep. 39 Winning $1 Million in Scholarships (Without being the cream of the crop)

Ep. 31 How to Win College Scholarships

Also listen to our 4-Part FAFSA Series (Ep. 25- Ep. 28)

Program Partners & Affiliates

Ink Cartridges (Back to School Sale)

Dr. Eric Thomas, Motivational Speaker (check out this YOU TUBE video)

The Secret to Success Podcast (w/Eric Thomas & CJ)

Ep. 51 Top 5 Tips for the Student Athlete

This episode of the podcast is a conversation with an experienced high school counselor, Student Athletestudent athlete consultant and business owner, Sonya Duval of Achievement Matters Consulting. She talks in detail about her experience working with students, her passion of helping them become “student loan/college debt free”, scholarships and gives tips for the student athlete.


Top 5 Tips for the Student Athlete

  1. Recruitment starts in the 9th grade for a student athlete (and even in middle school in some areas).  Do well all four years of high school as well as on your SAT & ACT tests. Grades are very important in the college admission process. There is a difference in being looked at by coaches versus getting accepted into college.
  2. Work on your athletic skills at the same time. Go beyond the everyday practice with the coach, put in the extra work to become stronger, better at the sport which shows your self-discipline.
  3. Ask your student athlete what they want to do in terms of their career before the junior year (major).
  4. Learn to NOT be a “REACTIVE” student athlete player. Instead, be PROACTIVE and seek out the schools and coaches that interest you. Don’t sit around waiting for someone to notice you.
  5. Develop an EXPOSURE PLAN. This is a plan to get YOU in front of people who could potentially offer you an athletic scholarships. Put together a PACKAGE which contains your athletic profile, your letter of interest for that school and highlight film.  This PACKAGE should be sent out in spring of their junior year (she gives an example of a email blitz of a student’s package to 70 coaches).

“Leadership and Character Does Count!”

Links mentioned in this episode:

Achievement Matters College Admissions Consulting

Follow Sonya Duval: Twitter, Facebook


TCMM Podcast Episode 15 – What it takes to be a Gates Millennium Scholar

Prudential Spirit of Community Awards – For Outstanding Volunteer Community Service

NCAA Guide for Collegebound Student Athlete




Ep. 50 Unique Summer Scholarship Bonanza – I Bet You Never Heard of THESE…

Summer SchWe are very excited to have made it to Episode #50 Unique Summer Scholarships.  We thank you for sticking around with us as we figure this stuff out and give you all the good stuff we find!

This episode is jam packed with unique scholarships. We talk briefly about each one and the links are included below.  Many have deadlines in July or August so don’t waste time this summer!


Flavor of the Month Essay Contest – If you were ice cream, what flavor would you be? Deadline 7/31/16 $1500

Make Me Laugh – Something you want to share with the world that is funny in 250 words or less. Deadline 8/31/16 $1500

Shout it Out – Any important message to tell the world in 250 words or less. Deadline 9/30/16 $1500

Fashion Institute for Design & Merchandising – Submit a project or design in one of the categories on their website. Deadline varies 100% of tuition is the award

I Scream, You Scream – Submit an essay about your favorite ice cream flavor. Deadline 7/31/16 $1000

Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship – write an essay about your survival plan if your town was overrun with zombies. Deadline 10/31/16 $2000

Education Matters – Write an essay about what you would say to someone who thinks education is a waste of time. How would you convince them? Deadline 11/30/16 $5000

Top 10 List – In 250 words or less, list 10 reasons why you should receive this scholarship. Deadline 12/31/16 $1500

American Assembly for Men in Nursing – 5 different scholarships $1000- $5000 Deadline 7/1/16 (CLOSED)

Use your phone to unlock a donation. This is another texting game in which you earn a chance to when the scholarship and earn donations for local libraries.

Adelante-Miller Coors National Scholarship – Open only to residents of NY, NM, TX, AK, CA & FL. You must demonstrate a financial need . Deadline varies $31,000

I Have A Dream Scholarship – (No, nothing to do with MLK at all) 250 words or less, tell them n detailed story about a recent or past dream that you have had. Deadline 1/31/17 $1500

Read more

Ep. 44 10 College Expenses You Didn’t Expect


Ep. 42 How to “DO” College, Design Your Career with Internships & Dump the Debt

All about internships

All about internships

This episode is all about internships.  We talk with an expert – Sharise Kent.  She is the author of the book – The Internship Manual.

She talks extensively about her philosophy of how to “DO” college the correct way (i.e. get out in 4 years or less), use internships to design your career and dump the college debt.

Her journey includes having 6 internships as an undergrad student and 2 more as a graduate student.  All of the above at the same time that you continue your studies and have fun.



Sharise talks at length about students being very deliberate in their approach to college and knowing how to play the game.  For example, taking 15 credits instead of the standard 12 credits (as well as summer & winter sessions classes) will ensure that you graduate within 4 years but also saves you money.

When you first attend school, sometimes you have no idea what you want to study.  Take the time the first year to explore topics. Changing your major choice more than once can be very costly (approximately $43k each time).  The cost adds up in delayed graduation, additional tuition and lost employment.

There are a number of companies that have internships for freshman:



NBA Internships

Huff Post Article about Graduate School

Blog article: Tuition is Due and You Are Broke!

Shari’s Top 5 Resources for Internships:

  1. On Campus – Career Services Office
  2. Ask Around – Family, Friends, Parent connections
  3. Local small businesses and nonprofit organizations
  4. Online – Internships.com,
  5. Organizations dedicated to youth development, mentorships (T. Howard Foundation)

Other Links:

The Internship Manual Book (Amazon)

Sharise Kent.com


Scholarship Spotlight: Healthy Eating Scholarship Sponsored by Nuts.com.  They award three scholarships $500- $1500 to eligible high school seniors, undergrad or graduate students. Submit an essay.  DEADLINE May 15, 2016.

Ep. 41 Why Millennials Can’t Get State Financial Aid

Millennials and State Financial Aid

Millennials and State Financial Aid

This episode of the podcast is a discussion around an article that I came across that discussed the problem that millennials are finding themselves in the middle of. They are systematically being shut out of state financial aid.  The article, “The financial aid policy that shuts out millions of students” is taken from the Hechinger Report.

Millennials is the fastest growing segment of our population that range in age from 18-34 years old. They are also the bulk of those attending colleges and universities around this country.  The problem is that if you decide to defer, delay, post-pone going to college, your changes of qualifying for state financial aid diminish drastically each year that you wait.  There can be many valid reasons millennials are not going to college immediately after high school such as traveling, needing to work and earn money to pay for their education, they start a family and need to take care of an infant, they need to work and take care of an elderly parent etc…

There are many states such as Michigan (mentioned in the article) that are penalizing millennials by having a restriction that says that if you apply for state tuition assistance and it has been more that 10 years from high school graduation, you don’t qualify.

Links mention in this podcast:

Hechinger Report

PA Higher Education Assistance Authority – State Grant Programs

NJ Higher Education Student Assistance Authority

Gov. Christie’s Proposed Cuts to Educational Opportunity Fund

College Money MasterClass


Scholarship Spotlight – (NJ RESIDENTS) Survivor Tuition Benefits: Eligible children and surviving spouses of New Jersey Firefighter, emergency service workers and law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty may enroll free of tuition charges at any public institution of higher education.

Ep. 40 Selecting the Right College: Using Data to Make Better Decisions

Selecting the right collegeThis episode is an interview with Bill Phelan, co-founder of College Factual to discuss how data can help a student make a better decision by selecting the right college. This site is a data driven website that allows you to discover your unique strengths, matches you with the best major and begins selecting the right college according to that information. They publish significant data on their site for athletes, first year students as well as work with the Veteran’s Administration to identify veteran friendly colleges (@studentvets).

“An adult can make a bad decision and file for bankruptcy. A student at age 18 that makes a bad decision can’t walk away from their debt, student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy court”.

The goal is to have the most updated information about the true cost of a college, determine the value of selecting that major and what are the best colleges for that major and the outcome of your earning potential. This is also a great resource for Asian students since they have an office in #Beijing for the Chinese parents and students.

Changing the course while in college can be costly. The latest statistics suggest that 76% of students change their major once and then 50% of those students change their major for the second time.  The COST of each change is about $45,000

Links mentioned in this episode:

The College Money Maze MASTERCLASS – May7, 2016 (for those in the NJ area)

College Factual

Contact them:  FACEBOOK, Twitter, LinkedIN

USA Today College Rankings @USATodayCollege


Scholarship SpotlightThe Shawn Carter Foundation Scholarship (in honor of Beyonce’s new album – Lemonade)

They offer varies scholarships for students up to the age of 25.  You must be at least a high school senior, received a GED, undergraduate or graduate student, U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a 2.0 GPA to qualify. @beyonce @S_C_



Ep. 39 Winning $1Million in College Scholarships, Without Being the Cream of the Crop

Scholarships Ep. 39Today’s episode of the college money maze is a discussion about college scholarships, specifically about a young man (Blake Dawson) in high school who won over $1million to date. There was a recent video and article posted on our facebook community page for The College Money Maze. The video and article first appeared in the Courier Journal.

A student who focuses their efforts on finding college scholarships, wanting to be student loan debt-free can achieve that goal. He and others are living proof of that. There are a couple of key points that he makes and the writer of the article underscores:

  1. Getting and staying organized from the beginning of the process.
  2. Being diligent and researching each school on his list to see what college scholarships are available that he may qualify for. Many of them are not advertised on the general scholarship search websites.
  3. Great quote from him – “If you don’t ask, you’ll never know”.
  4. His parents set the expectation early on that it was his responsibility to find money to pay for his college education. Have a mindset of “excellence”.
  5. He treated this just like a part-time job, setting aside a few hours on a Saturday to complete essays or during his study hall time at school.
  6. He asked for help from his counselor and parents.  They reviewed his essay and helped with his applications.
  7. He did not let hearing the answer “NO”, deter him from applying for others.
  8. He has not only earned a “Full Ride” for college, he has tens of thousands of dollars for all of the additional expenses that he will incur.
  9. Completing the FAFSA puts you in a position to be eligible for institutional aid.
  10. Being part of a debate club helped him market himself, especially in interviews with colleges.


College Money Maze MASTERCLASS (in NJ) for Parents of incoming HS Juniors. For more information/register for class, CLICK HERE.


Scholarship Spotlight

All about Education Scholarship – This is located on the Unigo.com website. Deadline April 30, 2016. They are awarding a $3000 scholarship to a student 13+ at time of application who can answer the question – How will a $3000 scholarship for education make a difference in your life?

Create Real Impact Contest – Sponsored by Impact Teen Drivers. They are awarding up to $1500 for a student between the ages of 14 and 22 years of age. Student must submit an original work (video, music, creative writing or artwork) showcasing their idea for a solution to the very real problem of reckless and distracted driving. Deadline April 29, 2016

Denny’s Hungry for Education Scholarship – Sponsored by the Hispanic Association for Colleges and Universities.  They are awarding $1000 to any student k-12, undergraduate or graduate with a minimum GPA 2.5.  Applicant must submit an essay on how Denny’s can impact childhood hunger in their communities. Deadline is April 29, 2016

Dunkin’ Donuts South/Southwest Florida Scholarship Program – they are awarding $1000 to a high school senior at designated (see website) high schools in the Florida Palm Beach Treasure Coast area, the greater Miami-Fort Lauderdale area, and the Greater Ft. Myers-Naples area.



Ep. 36 Have You Considered An Online College Degree?

online College degree

Online College Degree

This episode is a deep dive  discussion about an online college degree and the value of this choice for your education. Our guest, Kimberly Wetter is the Marketing Director for SR Education Group and they publish the websites onlineu.org, guidetoonlineschool.com and grad reports.com.

We cover the whole gamut when talking about pursuing an online college degree, from financial aid, scholarships to lecture format to how they rate these colleges and universities.

We also discuss the differences between “for-profit” vs. “non-profit” colleges and the various types of accreditation. She provides some tips on how to distinguish which schools are a safe bet and which are “questionable”. Did you know that many well-known colleges have online degrees as well as brick & mortar buildings on campuses?

Here are a couple of universities that she mentions for you to consider – Western Governors University. Their concept revolves around the less time it takes you to complete your degree, the less money you have to spend.

Southern New Hampshire University has expanded their online presence and is rated very high by these websites.


Scholarship Spotlight – SR Education Group Scholarships – they offer two scholarships: $2500 for those attending community college (deadline July 16, 2016) & $5000 for teachers enrolled in a graduate program (deadline May 30, 2016)

Scholarship Spotlight – Babe Ruth League Scholarship – $1000 scholarship for high school seniors and current college students who have participated in a Cal Ripken Baseball, Babe Ruth Baseball or Babe Ruth Softball League during the ages of 4-18.  Deadline July 31, 2016.

Ep. 35 Does Your College Major Matter?

Does Your College Major Matter?This episode is a discussion about whether or not if the school you select or your college major choice really matters when it comes to career opportunities. This topic comes from an a blog article on the website – CollegeFactual.com.  They explore the issue of supply and demand for a college major but we look at the issue from a broader perspective. Enjoy.

Scholarship Spotlight – The Google Anita Borg Scholarship.

Google’s commitment to encourage women to pursue careers in computing and technology has led them to establish the Google Anita Borg Scholarship. The intent is to encourage women to become role models and leaders in computing and technology.

Scholarships are awarded after a review of a candidate’s academic background and leadership. Award amounts vary from $1,000 to $10,000.

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