At first instance, you will think this is a horribly misleading headline. After your irritation, I hope you will get the point. And, then as the college process unfolds, I believe you will thank me.
I’m a father of three. I mention because I’ve planned/studied the issue of college cost both as a professional educational consultant and as a parent. Like most Connecticut shoreline families, we will get no financial aid. This is not a humble brag. The national median household income is $51,000. Connecticut’s median household income is $71,000. That alone puts Connecticut families at a disadvantage – and, yes, even with cost of living adjustments – versus families across the nation vying for college financial aid.
Income inequality makes Connecticut’s median income misleading. Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport, Norwich and New London – basically all of Connecticut’s cities except Stamford – drag down the average considerably. Those who live in Shoreline Connecticut towns (Branford, Guilford, Madison, Old Saybrook, Old Lyme) and other Southeastern Connecticut towns (Essex, Chester, Deep River, East Lyme, Waterford, Stonington) and who plan to send their children to college generally make far more. And, that good news is bad news when it comes to financial aid.
So why the headline? My e-mail inbox is filled every May with wonderfully happy parents. This has always been the case due to college admissions. “Dear Daryl, Thank you for your help with Jennifer. She was admitted to 7 colleges and has chosen…” But now, the thank you notes include one more line: “and because of her SAT scores, she has a $16,000/year scholarship.” Simply put, merit aid (which has nothing to do with the family’s finances) has become a large component for how parents pay for college.
I used to be highly self-conscious about being self-serving. Too much old school Catholic guilt or worries about how I will come across if I urge others to take our test prep classes. But I have seen the results – as a parent with my oldest – and with hundreds of others in the last few years. They entered the class with a PSAT or SAT score that would not lead to merit aid. They left the class in position to get merit aid. Taking our SAT-ACT Mastery class was the summer job that led to big money.
Even small merit aid awards -$3-5000/year – amount to $12-20,000 total. There is no summer job that comes close to reaching those amounts. Some big winners this year: several of my students from last year’s SAT-ACT Summer Mastery Seminar have full tuition covered (well over $100,000 for the four years). Some medium sized scholarships in the range of $8-16,000/yearly or $32-64,000 total and countless smaller scholarships.
Apologize for the misleading headline but I hope you will thank me at some point in the future.