Ep. 59 Scholarship Success Story – Pam Andrews, The Scholarship Shark

Imagine having enough money in scholarships to cover your college and graduate school education, twice.  That is exactly what happened to Pam Andrews (The Scholarship Shark) and her oldest son.  With the tenacity, relentless pursuit and focus of a shark, keen

The Scholarship Shark

The Scholarship Shark

organizational skills and her son’s commitment to the process, they were able to secure over $700k in scholarships.  He is now attending his dream school in Florida, pursuing his animation/art college education.

This episode is an in depth conversation with Pam about their journey which started with the decision she and her husband made to homeschool all four of their children and encourage the benefits of education.

Pam talks about the challenges she faced all along the way and did not begin the scholarship process until her son’s senior year.  It was at that time that they teamed up and put together a plan to not only search for colleges, but pursue scholarships as a way to pay for them.

Her motto is: “Don’t just get in, get it financed!”

“Schools don’t want well-rounded kids, they want a diverse student body.  Be the best YOU!”

Here are her tips for parents of High School Juniors:

  1. 3-layer approach: Look for schools that offer Merit Aid/Merit Awards, then those that meet 100% of “UN-MET NEED” and then every eligible private scholarships.
  2. Get Organized! Go to local library and use the books there that list scholarships/reference
  3. Identify what your child wants to do (career exploration)
  4. Begin developing relationships with colleges that you want to or have visited
  5. Attend pre-college programs.  Great way to experience the campus and courses
  6. Start searching for scholarships NOW!
  7. Be intentional with your child’s last two years – find volunteer opportunities related to their career
  8. Watch those deadlines! Aim for two weeks before REAL deadline to get all of the info needed.

Links mentioned in this episode:


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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)

BONUS: Comparing Financial Aid Offers

Scholarship Spotlight: The Ken Reeves Memorial AccuWeather Undergraduate Scholarship in Meteorology. They offer one scholarship per year for $1000 for any undergraduate student sophomore – senior enrolled in a meteorology program. DEADLINE May 27, 2016

Bonus- Financial Aid Offers

It is probably time for you to compare your financial aid offers.  How do you know you are comparing apples to apples? What do you do when the school you REALLY want has not responded with an offer? Today’s episode is a review of a recent article in USA TODAY about sticker price shock and how to effectively compare financial aid offers.


Ep. 29 Scholarship Success Story: Meet Briana!

Scholarship Success: How to stand outIn this episode, we present another parents/student scholarship success story. We want to introduce Brianna J., daughter of Aretha and Kevin.  She is currently a freshman at Hampton University in Virginia. She and her mother talk in depth about the college search process, extracurricular activities, applying for local scholarship, sports (volleyball), HBCU and her entire journey.

The colleges & links mentioned in this episode:

Rutgers University

Morgan State University

Fairleigh Dickinson University

University of Maryland

Loyola University

Kean University

Howard University

Spelman College

Temple University

Ramapo College


The Common Application

Jack and Jill of America, Inc.


[spp-tweet tweet=”Scholarship Tweet: Don’t leave money on the table!”]

Tips for parents & students:

  1. Plan, Plan, Plan – start as early as possible, for example account for expenses related to additional tutoring and what the financial impact for applying to many schools can be on your pocketbook.
  2. Be committed to the process. Use social media as a vehicle to find your scholarship.
  3. Find a way to handle stress in senior year with deadlines (exercise, go for a walk, etc…)
  4. Don’t procrastinate! Learn good time management techniques. Start college and scholarship essays as early as possible.



Ep. 27 FAFSA Series Pt. 3: Who Are Your Parents?


FAFSA Series Pt. 3: Parents

Who Are Your Parents?

Milton Fisher Scholarship for innovation and Creativity – (up to) $5000/year for four years for high school juniors, senior and college freshman in the Connecticut or New York City metro area (or any student in the US planning to attend college in Conn or NYC area). **************************************

Todays episode is an exploration into different types of parents or parental relationships and what a student would report on the FAFSA depending on their family structure.  This can be quite complex to explain and include situations such as divorced parents, LGBT parents, remarried, single, never-married etc…

This can delay the review of your FAFSA application if not completed correctly.

LINK TO AMAZON Books about FAFSA and Financial Aid

Links mentioned in this episode:

FAFSA Series Pt. 1: Getting Organized

FAFSA Series Pt. 2: EFC & CSS Profile

Apply for your FSA ID Here.

FAFSA Application

Parental Relationship Guide for the FAFSA

Pinterest Infographic about Parents


Ep. 23 The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarship Programs for High Achieving, Low-Income Scholars

Jack Kent Cooke Scholars Program

Jack Kent Cooke Scholars Program

This episode introduces to many of you for the first time, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.  As my guest (no co-host today) is Larry Thi, Alumni (of the Cooke Scholars) & Outreach Associate for the foundation.  This title fits him perfectly because he is one of the Cooke Scholars.  He provides us with all of the details about the foundation, its’ mission and vision as well as the  many programs that the foundation sponsors.  More importantly, he talks about the scholarships that are available for incoming scholars, current college students and even 5th year students.

The programs of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation:12088281_900211743399087_3551134447181632277_n

  • Young Scholars Program – educational advising and financial support for students from 8th grade through high school. Apply Jan- April
  • College Scholarship Program – scholarship for high achieving high school seniors with financial need (up to $40k/year). Apply Sept – Nov
  • Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship – top national community college students looks to complete their bachelors’s at selective four-year colleges or universities. Apply Oct – Dec

Here are his best tips for scholars to maximize financial aid, scholarships and grants:

  1.  Initially your focus is on finding your fit and getting into college
  2. Figure out how to pay for it
  3. Creating a financial aid plan is critical.
  4. Don’t forget about a viable scholarship plan: know if the scholarship is a local, state or national scholarship award. A good rule of thumb is to apply for 3-5 local, 1-2 state and 1-2 national scholarships –
  5. Keep a chart/spreadsheet of all your essays that you use for college admission applications and recycle them for scholarships
  6. Be strategic about where you apply, focus on those colleges that will give you more institutional aid
  7. IVY League schools give out a lot of need-based aid, don’t avoid them because of the sticker price)

Schools mentioned in this episode:

Drexel University

Temple University

Lehigh University

Gettysburg College

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Motto: THINK BIG, WORK HARD AND ACHIEVE


Ep. 21 Financial Aid Myths & Tips

Today’s episode is with a retired Rutgers financial aid administrator who helps to debunk Debunking Financial Aide Myths
college financial aid myths and gives valuable tips toward paying for college. Mr. Thomas Holmes retired from Rutgers University in 2010 and has started his own educational consulting business, Powerful Visions, LLC. This is somewhat longer than our usual episodes but well worth listening to from beginning to end.

Myth #1 Parents have to wait to file their taxes in order to complete the FAFSA.

WRONG. The FAFSA will be available beginning January 1, 2016 (and thereafter available as early as October) and you can use the previous years tax info to “estimate” what your tax liability will be.

Myth #2 You HAVE to take out a student loan to pay for college.

WRONG. An offer of a student loan can be part of the “financial aid award package” from the colleges that you apply for, especially if your need exceeds the cost of college admission (tuition + room/board/fees).  You can actually turn down a student loan if you have secured enough money to meet your financial need from outside sources such as scholarships.

Educator, Entrepreneur & Community Activist

Thomas Holmes, Educational Consultant and CEO Powerful Visions, LLC.

For example:

$30,000 is the cost of college

$5,000 is your EFC (expected family contribution) subject from above =

$25,000 is your financial need

$20,000 is the max you may be offered from federal and institutional aid=

$5,000 is the amount you are short to meet the cost of college.

It is at this point you may be offered a subsidized loan (interest free until graduation)

Myth #3 I can’t or shouldn’t apply for financial aid because my grades are not that good. Grades are not a prerequisite for getting financial aid. They are important when maintaining credit and satisfactory progress while in college.

Myth #4 I can’t change how much financial aid that I am awarded.

WRONG (Sometimes). You have the ability to file an appeal with the school and have them reconsider the amount of aid that is awarded. They may not have any control over the “state aid” but given certain circumstances, may award you more federal or institutional aid.

Myth #5 We make too much money to get financial aid, plus it is too much of a hassle.

WRONG (Almost). Everyone is “probably” eligible for something even at higher incomes such as over $200k, depends on what kind of school you are applying to.  The FAFSA is easier and simpler than ever to complete online.

Mr. Holmes’ tips for students/parents:

1. States may audit you and require additional info related to your assets before they award you financial aid.

2. Be smart about your assets, “[spp-tweet tweet=”if they can see, they will count it”.”]

3. Be aware of outside sources (scholarships) and how it will affect your award.

4. Start being intentional with your child’s academics and extra activities while they are in middle school to build up your “profile”.

5. Take your children on college tours while they are a freshman to get used to the concept.


Ep. 20 Road Trip: Philadelphia College Fair

This episode is a recap/debrief of our recent road trip to the College Fair in Philadelphia.  The college fair is sponsored by NACAC – National Association of College Admission Counselors. They have a complete listing of college fairs across the country for the fall and spring season every year.  This was my first experience and my brother’s second with his family. There were well over 800 colleges in attendance at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.College Fair

I try to describe it for you but you must attend one local to you atlas 2-3 times between sophomore and senior year of high school. The first time attending a college fair with a sophomore (or younger) is just to get them used to the concept.  The second time you attend with your child should be between 10th and 11th grade.  They most likely have more of a focus or an idea of what they want to major in. If they are interested in sports, they will be attracted to those schools and teams that they have heard and/or seen on TV.  By senior year, they will be laser focused when attending and only visit the top 5-10 schools of their choice and spending more quality time with the admissions person to show their genuine interest.

There is a lot of literature, brochures, cool stuff that they give away.  The schools that caught our interest were:

Rutgers (of course!)

Arcadia University

Virginia Tech

Rowan University

We also discuss the various workshops that we each attended.  There were representatives from the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA).  They answered questions about financial aid, FAFSA, scholarships etc…

Other financial aid resources:







Scholarship resources:





Ep. 9 Financial Aid 101

Today’s episode is a brief talk on Financial Aid 101. What is Financial Aid and how can it help YOU? Financial aid is a source of money that can help you pay for college. Some forms of financial aid needs to be paid back or earned and some aid is a gift. We discuss the process of applying for Federal Financial Aid through the FAFSA form and submitting it. This is a FREE form and it is the gateway to the type of aid available:

financial aid


Grants & Scholarships (money you don’t need to pay back)

Work-study jobs – paid, part-time work, usually on campus

Loans – money you DO need to pay back, can be deferred until you graduate

The college admission process can be quite complex and the confusion usually starts right here with financial aid. You only need to apply once per year and your take the results to the school(s) that you will be attending in order to calculate your TOTAL COLLEGE COSTS. The prior College Money Maze episode discussed all of the various factors that can make up the TOTAL COLLEGE COSTS. Check it out here.

Another source of financial assistance that is provided by the State of New Jersey (and other state departments of higher education) is the Education Opportunity Fund (EOF). This is a need-based grant awarded to students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds who attend colleges and universities on the undergraduate and graduate level.

Since we are originally from NJ, we also discuss many of the schools in NJ, how they are categorized and use them as examples. We have a lively discussion about the different TYPE of colleges and universities in NJ and how they are characterized. I am also providing a link to an article by CNN about the University of Phoenix who is under a federal investigation.

New Jersey Department of Higher Education

NJ Higher Education Student Assistance Authority

NJ Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF)




Ep. 8 Have You Calculated ALL Your College Costs?

College Costs


This is the first of many conversations that we will have on the subject of college costs. We define common terms as well as give real-time examples from specific institutions about “hidden” college costs.

We also talk briefly about what you may bring with you as a first-year student and what expenses to watch out for. The sample schools that we discuss are:

Kean University Net Price Calculator

Penn State University

Rutgers University Office of Financial Aide

Seton Hall University

Other Links:

College Board’s Net Price Calculator

U.S. Department of Education Net Price Calculator Center

U.S. New & World Report Net Price Calculator

Federal Student Aid – U.S. Department of Education (Expected Family Contribution)




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