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October 2019

UnMazed Magazine

Teen's Guide to Paying for College

Scholarships Financial Aid & more

C O N T E N T SÂ Teen's Guide to Paying for College October 2019 8

Earn Free College In High School: Here's How

10 Top 6 Scholarship Sources 11

Scholarship Documents Needed

13 How to Develop a Plan 14

National Scholarships


Institutional Scholarships



20 22 24 27

State Scholarships Local Scholarships Financial Aid Other Sources of Money

30 Talking about Money with the Family 31 How to Appeal Aid





Letter from the Editor I give a lot of presentations to parents and students all over Florida, and without a doubt, the most brought up topic is: How do I pay for college? Typically this is followed by, "I know there is money out there, I just know where to start." You are right- sometimes searching for scholarships is like a never ending black-hole and then you get bombarded with emails because many of those companies SELL your information to make money. You get nothing- they make money. So in putting together this month's magazine all about paying for college, I made it simple on myself and for you. I am providing you all of my Chapter 4 of College UnMazed: Your Guide to the Florida College & University System, plus a few additional pages that have been added since or provided by state contributors. I am humble in saying this- but this  will be your BEST source for scholarships, locally, within Florida, and nationally as well as provide others way to save your money. It breaks down many of the questions you have and gives you a path to success. College does not have to be expensive!! There are easy ways to make it happen and this edition of UnMazed Magazine will allow you to have some hard conversations about how By: Dr. Amanda Sterk, Senior Editor and Founder of UnMazed Magazine asterk@unmaze.me

to pay for college and what it takes to make it affordable! Parents- Like what you see? Do you want to see how everything from academic planning, building a resume, college applications, and college admissions fits together in a step-by-step







information. Counselors-







information via pdf to your students? Click here for more information.


Magazine articles and more can be found at www.unmaze.me Your complete set of Florida resources for student success.

Contact us: We enjoy hearing from from parents, students, and educators throughout the state. Send us your photos, letters, or comments to asterk@unmaze.me. Or visit us online: www.unmaze.me Do you want to collaborate? This magazine is designed for educators across the state to share their expertise on a variety of topics. We welcome those who would like to participate in creating this resource.

UnMazed Where Experts Meet for Teen Success


The only high school to college guidebook created exclusively for Florida students "Dr. Sterk has a gifted ability to understand the perspective of others which positions her as a true student advocate. College UnMazed will certainly guide the college applicant in a caring, confident, wise manner for their success." Nancy Jordan, Ed.D. Educator & Administrator

20% OFF FOR OCTOBER!! Retails for $36.95 (Amazon & Barnes & Noble) On sale at www.unmaze.me for $$29.65

TOPICS THAT MATTER Topics include: 1. Academic & Career Planning 2. Developing a College List 3. Applying to Colleges & Universities 4. Scholarships & Financial Aid 5. Organizational Tools for Success

COMPREHENSIVE SUPPORT College UnMazed provides you comprehensive support through the entire college application process. From detailed charts, infographics, student examples, and resources, this is the most comprehensive guidebook on the market.


Earn Free College in High School

Earn Free College in High School High school students have great opportunities to obtain free college credits even before graduating high school! Today, high schools provide many opportunities for students to accelerate their learning through various high school programming. Earning college credit in high school is beneficial for multiple reasons.

Career Focus Time Savings While not widely discussed, college is taking longer to get through as students change their degrees, have trouble meeting prerequisites, or enter programs that change their requirements. Having a student be able to focus on the generalized core courses or electives to determine their major, these credits can save students a substantial amount of time and stress.

The college course work allows students to see how they might enjoy specific career fields. Advanced lab reports, research, hands-on projects, and in-depth teaching provides more opportunities for exploration into various career fields. Students can also earn industry certifications that can be directly employable after high school or with additional semester or two.

Cost Savings School districts often pick up the tab for tuition and books. Sometimes there are some small fees, but at a fraction of the cost what a student would pay after graduating high school, including room

Rigor & Independence Acceleration courses allow students to

and board, tuition, fees, books, and other expenses.

Smaller Classes

be treated as college-students.

Taking these courses in

Students learn to better navigate the

high school or on a state

academic skills, such as time

college's campus

management, study skills, test

guarantees small numbers

preparation, and note taking, to be a

and more personalized

more successful student. Having both


rigor and independence can be highly motivating for students to excel.

Advanced Placement- implemented by the College Board, are standard curriculum courses taught by high school teachers. Students are given an end-of-the-year test, that provides them a score from 1-5. Based on this score, colleges and universities determine if college credit can be earned.. Over 2.7 million students worldwide are expected to take up to 5 million exams this year.


a.      Strengths- AP is one the largest and oldest acceleration methods. It gives opportunities for all types of students to take singleton courses for potential college credits. College credits are often given for certain scores, but not all universities accept AP credits. Students can take courses they are stronger in rather than a whole program. b.      Weaknesses- While the student may do well in the classroom environment, some students struggle on the extensive standardized test. As well, colleges have differing scores needed to obtain college credit. For more information about AP options- visit CollegeBoard.org

Cambridge AICE and International Baccalaureate- The AICE and IB programs are similar in curriculum structure with an emphasis on intellectual rigor, high academic standards, and strong emphasis on citizenship. Students often apply in 8th grade with standardized test scores, application, and possible interview.


a.      Strengths- Courses taught in the high school setting, but becomes a “school-withina-school” setting as only a select number of students may enter the program. Students may earn up to 45 credits through passage of the final, standardized test. The programs are internationally recognized. Currently students who earn the AICE or IB diploma are eligible for the Bright Futures Florida Academic Scholars full-tuition scholarship. b.      Weaknesses- AICE and IB are extremely rigorous, structured, writing intensive programs. Some students do not thrive academically in this type of environment, some do.

DE courses are college courses that can be utilized in three ways; on a high school campus with a credentialed professor, online through the college, or at the college campus. Unlike the other programs, dual enrollment students have to meet state requirements of a 3.0 unweighted grade point average and specific test scores on standardized tests like the PERT, ACT, or SAT (https://www.fsw.edu/dualenrollment).


a.      Strengths- Students earn college credits with passing grades to transfer to a fouryear university or college. College courses are also by semester, so students can earn credits at a faster rate than other acceleration methods that are yearlong, such as AP, AICE, and IB. DE students have full access to the college’s resources, such as the library, academic resource centers, tutoring, activities, and Honor’s Program. b.      Weaknesses-Students are treated as a college student and are expected to have academic independence. Student’s are creating their college official transcript.




While there are thousands of scholarships available to students, not all parents and students know where to start the process.

National National scholarships are from large corporations like Coca-Cola, American Council of the Blind, Siemens Corporation, Don't Text and Drive, and more. These usually have larger monetary value, but more people apply. Usually an essay, reference, or something else needs to be done to be considered.

Local Local scholarships come from the community where students live. While these scholarships are smaller in value than larger national scholarships, less people are applying for them making them very accessible to students.



Institutional scholarships come from the university to bring down the price of tuition, room, and board. Sometimes, because of test scores, grades, and your student demographics, you just receive them - other times you have to apply! Be sure to ask the college's financial aid office for help.

Florida offers multiple state scholarships, the most known is the Florida Bright Futures Scholarships to qualifying students. Scholarships range from $1,000 to full college tuition.



Raise.Me has been a game changer for how universities give money. Instead of the old thought of apply, then decide, microscholarships are scholarships your student can earn in small increments throughout their school career.

While not necessarily a scholarship, filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), can provide grants, loans, and access to scholarships that otherwise could not have been received.



DOCUMENTS NEEDED Your resume helps guide your scholarship application. By having a wellwritten resume, it will greatly reduce errors and stress.

Completing the FAFSA is required for many scholarships, whether your family is eligible or not.





Most scholarships require a transcript of your grades. While many are not grade focused, it shows what courses you took, how you did, and some of your academic interests.


Merit based scholarships, or those focused on academic standings, ask for your ACT/SAT scores. Have these listed on your resume for easy reference.


Recommendation letters are a big part of many scholarships. Typically you should ask a teacher and someone who knows your school/ community involvement.Â

Your essay for your college applications is often similar to scholarship essays, but be sure you are answering the required prompt and not just making it fit.

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EVENT DETAILS: 2nd Tuesday of the month, 7:00-8:00 pm Join us each month for an informative live video webinar where numerous higher education and community organizations discuss topics that are important to families navigating the high school to college process.


Registration provides you access to the live webinars to ask your questions or to access the replay at your convenience. www.unmaze.me/webinars


September 10th Testing: How 2 Prepare 4 ACT, SAT & PERT October 15th College Applications: What U Need 2 Know November 12th FAFSA: Accessing Free College Money December 10th Scholarships: Tips & Tricks on Local, State & National January 14th Mental Health: Living Your Best Life February 11th Career Pathways: Finding Your Career March 10th Academic Planning: Determine Your High School Options April 14th Award Letters & Budgeting: How 2 Fund Your College Experience


DEVELOP SCHOLARSHIP GAME PLAN To mount an effective scholarship campaign, the first thing you need is a winning game plan. Start by implementing the following four key action strategies. 1. Plan to apply for as many scholarships as possible. Some students make the mistake of thinking that they maximize their chances of winning by pouring all of their energy into one or two scholarships. But applying for scholarships is partially a numbers game. A variety of factors outside of your control affect the outcome of any given award. Even if the award is a few hundred dollars, the extra cash can help offset some costs for special programs, books, travel, etc. 2. Develop a portfolio of generic reusable materials. This guidebook has purposefully required you to create generic materials that will help apply to a large number of scholarships. Once you have your resume, college essay, letters of recommendation, transcripts, and ACT/SAT scores, then you can focus on fine-tuning each one for what the scholarships are specifically asking for. Do not copy and paste an essay that you talk about traveling abroad when the scholarship is about local community involvement. As well, when asking for letters of recommendations, ask your recommenders for both a "college admission" and "scholarship" recommendations letters to save for later. When reading the scholarship prompts, highlight key words (leadership, community, extra-curricular, athletics, major of choice, etc) and categorize each of the scholarships you are applying to with the same key words. This will allow you to maximize your time and submit similar documents to several scholarships. When rewriting your materials, try to continually rethink, improve, and hone in on what worked or did not work. 3. Leverage schoolwork and class time. Junior and senior year are always the busiest and the more you can adapt and reuse, do so. For example, several of your school essays could be used used for scholarship essays. Finding topics on a variety of scholarship topics will help you maximize your time by just submitting one essay. For example, scholarship essay topics could be on selfreflective issues, books essays, historical events and people, community service, etc. so if you can use an essay both for scholarships and your school work, it will help minimize your time spent on writing and more time spent on searching for money! 4. Learn from past scholarship winners. Learning from other scholarship winners can make a big difference when preparing your documents. Ask your school counselor what scholarships other students at your high school have won and what insight they may have about the process. As well, talk with past recipients on how they structured their documents or what they learned. Many of the scholarship websites have past winners listed with some of their accomplishments, and maybe even the chosen essay. Use other's knowledge created your own roadmap to success!




National Scholarships

NATIONAL SCHOLARSHIPS National scholarships are what families know and hear about through multiple websites. There are many websites out there that help you search for these large scholarships from organizations and businesses around the country and world. Searching for these types of scholarships can often be daunting and confusing. However, if received, these scholarships make a huge difference in the cost of college, as typically national scholarships can be used at any institution the student is attending, unlike institutional scholarships that are only good at the one particular school.

TWO TYPES OF NATIONAL SCHOLARSHIPS 1. Competitive - students are required to fill out an application, which could include recommendation letters or an essay. Sometimes students need to attend an interview or event to participate. There is a committee that determines who should receive the scholarship. 2. Lottery - students simply fill out some information, and the search committee “pulls a name out of the hat” so to speak. Just chance- no skill.

GREAT WEBSITES Fastweb CollegeBoard Niche.com Scholarships.com Peterson's SallieMae U.S. Labor Department's Free Search Tool Cappex


For any student on the scholarship search, Scholly by far should be one of the first resources you use. After growing up poor in Alabama, founder Christopher Gray managed to earn over $1.3 million in scholarships. His app has helped students win more than $50 million through the college scholarship search. For a few dollars, the app will NOT sell your information and provides a safe and secure, non-intrusive way to look for and win national scholarship money.

Most of these websites “sell” your information, so you may begin getting bombarded with other offers. I suggest to create a separate collegebound email for this process that sounds professional and keeps things more organized. Parents and students should have access to this account.




Institutional Scholarships

INSTITUTIONAL SCHOLARSHIPS Institutional scholarships are probably the most widely known scholarships today, but typically families only hear of the “full-ride." Many families do not know that universities give millions of dollars away every year to all types of students of varying award amounts. This money comes directly from the university or college to bring down the price of tuition/ room & board. How do students earn these scholarships? 1.    Students first need to apply to the university/ college in question. 2.    During the admission review process, they are looking if the student may be eligible for different scholarships   depending on multiple factors, what I call “Academic Factors” and “You Factors”, such as;              

a.    Grade point average (weighted, recalculated) b.    Standardized test scores (ACT or SAT) c.    Special talents & abilities- sports, dance, music, etc. d.    Major of choice e.    Passions/ interests f.     Ethnicity g.    First-generation students

3.    If students meet one or more of the criteria, two things may occur:   a.    Students are automatically awarded the scholarship   b.    Students are asked to apply to the scholarship.                      i.    This process could involve coming to campus, interviewing, writing an essay, submitting                 recommendations, or filling  out an application. If asked to apply, it is extremely important to follow all     requirements and deadlines. Follow through on all scholarship opportunities when given. 4.    If a student is to receive scholarships, the university may;   a.    Inform the student personally   b.    Notify students in their Awards Letter 5.    When a student accepts the Award Letter, the scholarships will be directly applied to the tuition and/ or room   and board (depending on the scholarship type). Some scholarships are "stackable," meaning you can use     multiple together, while others are not. Be sure to ask the Financial Aid Office. With any institution, families should scour the website to see what scholarships are available. It is also extremely important to build a relationship with the admission counselor and financial aid office. Many times, just by asking provides important. The key is - you have to apply!


Research the institutions who give the most aid and their criteria for awards.


Prepare your 5 college application as if you are also applying for a scholarship.


Check your application portal and email frequently so nothing is missed.


Look for outside scholarships for your admitted college.


FINANCIAL SUPPORT BY COLLEGE The following chart is a great example of how institutions give differing amounts of scholarships. While many families believe colleges are too expensive, you can see below that every college is able to tap into varying money streams for students, such as giving institutional scholarships and federal or state aid to reduce the overall costs of attending college. Even in public institutions, the amount of money awarded varies greatly and families will see their award letters with significant differences. Private universities do not receive public funds, but could have substantial endowments to reduce the higher costs of private institutions. College's "sticker price" (what you see as tuition and room and board) is not the same as their "net price" (what you pay after scholarships and financial aid is taken into account). Some colleges have dedicated themselves to removing the financial barriers for many students, so all students have the opportunity to attend.


These numbers will be broken down further later in this chapter as financial aid and award letters are discussed.

150 100 33











50 67

0 Florida SouthWestern State College University of Florida Florida Gulf Coast University Florida Southern College University of Central Florida University of Miami Scholarships/ Grants

Loans/ Jobs

STUDENT PROFILE John used the the CollegeBoard's BigFuture website, and found the schools he was most interested in and who provided the most scholarships and grants opportunities comparatively to student loans, something he is trying to avoid.

Data retrieved from BigFutures CollegeBoard

Want to know how your college stacks up? Visit: 1. Go to BigFuture.Collegeboard.org 2. Enter in college interested in. 3. Go to "Paying" under School Info. 4. Go to "Financial Aid by Numbers."


Many colleges throughout the United States are making a commitment to making college affordable for all. There is a growing list of post-secondary institutions that provide full need, or provide 100% of their students' demonstrated financial need. There are also scholarship programs that provide 100% support as well. A great place to look for these schools if you are a high achieving, low-income student is www.Questbridge.org.

Some well known colleges are: Amherst College, Brown University, Caltech, Dartmouth, Duke University, MIT, Northwestern, Oberlin, Princeton University, Stanford University, University of Chicago, and University of Pennsylvania.



Micro Scholarships

MICRO-SCHOLARSHIPS Micro-Scholarships are relatively unknown scholarship resource. In all essence they are institutional scholarships but packaged very differently. Instead of giving scholarships out after a student applies, micro-scholarship are earned before a student applies and accrues over time into very large sums of money. The website for micro-scholarships is: www.raise.me Starting in 9th grade, students can enter a wide range of high school activities, such as: Grades (AP, IB, Dual-enrollment, honors, regular, core, electives, etc) Standardized test scores (ACT/ SAT) Extra-curricular activities Volunteering Community Service Sports Each institution then determines how much they want to give for each of the things listed below: Have an A in a dual-enrollment course? Here is $500 Are you in the school play? Here is $1,000. Do you regularly to community service? Here is $500. The amounts vary, but what happens are these small or micro activities, when added up, mean big scholarships. So the student above is already looking at $2,000 in institutional scholarships!! What I love about this is that it motivates students very early on to be active and involved, and students can immediately see how this pays off in free college money. Every student in the entire country should be on www.raise.me. This is how it works: Students enter in their information throughout their high school years. Senior year, students will apply to the universities. Students must finalize the information by specific deadlines (around application time) through the website. If accepted, the micro-scholarships will automatically be applied to the Award Letter. It is that simple!!

STUDENT PROFILE John has completed his core courses (science, mathematics, social studies, English, and foreign language), completed a PSAT, taken honors courses, been in Yearbook, had a part-time job, performed some community service, ran cross country, and visited some of his favorite colleges on his list.

College Award Amounts: Florida Gulf Coast- $3,250 Stetson- $3,250 Florida International University- $648 Jacksonsville University- $5,230 Rollins College- $5,815 Tulane University- $3,215 Whittier College- $4,066

These are preliminary numbers, but as he continues to grow as a student, his microscholarships will rise. With entering in his information every year, he will see if he is on track to earning scholarships or not.


College Visits


Club or Sports


Raise.Me Earn scholarships as you go

Work Experience

Summer Programs

Test Scores College courses Raise.Me has 250 partner colleges and universities throughout the United States.

FLORIDA COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES INCLUDE: Albizu University Barry University Beacon College Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Flagler College Florida Atlantic University Florida Gulf Coast University Florida International University Florida Southern College Jacksonville College

Miami International University of Art and Design Rollins College Saint Leo University Stetson University Jacksonville College University of South Florida University of Tampa



State Scholarships

STATE SCHOLARSHIPS Florida offers several state scholarships that are available to a wide variety of students. The Florida Department of Education, Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA), administers a variety of statefunded grants and scholarships to assist Florida residents with the cost of their post-secondary education. Below is a list of grant and scholarship programs administered by OSFA. Students must submit a completed Florida Financial Aid Application (FFAA) to OSFA for programs denoted by an asterisk (*). Information and can be found at  http://www.floridastudentfinancialaid.org/SSFAD/home/uamain.htm Access to Better Learning and Education (ABLE) Grant Bright Futures Scholarship* First Generation Matching Grant Benacquisto Scholarship Program (formerly Florida Incentive Scholarship Program) Florida Fund for Minority Teachers Florida Resident Access Grant (FRAG) Florida Student Assistance Grant (FSAG) Florida Public Post-secondary Career Education Student Assistance Grant Florida Work Experience Program José Marti Scholarship Challenge Grant* Mary McLeod Bethune Scholarship Rosewood Family Scholarship* Scholarships for Children and Spouses of Deceased or Disabled Veterans*

BRIGHT FUTURES- FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS One of the most widely known state scholarship is called Florida Bright Futures Scholarship, which offers qualifying students approximately 75% (FMS) to 100% (FAS) of program study, Bright Futures is a statewide scholarship program funded by the state government that was started in 1997, funded by the Florida Lottery. The eligibility has changed over the years due to state funding, making the eligibility much higher than any prior years. There have been recent changes to funding, and the current hope is that the funding levels and eligibility listed below continue.

ACT/SAT 1. Bright Futures will accept either test, so it is suggested to take both and see which you score higher and that should be the one you retest on (see Chapter 3 on more ACT/SAT questions). 2. Bright Futures also uses what is called a "Superscore," meaning if you take the test more than once, they take the highest score from each section to create a new score. Scores do not cross between tests. 3. Bright Futures also allows you to test all the way through high school, from ninth until twelfth grade with the last test being from the June testing date. 4. Scores have continual changed the last few years. Current legislation (2019) has approved increasing SAT scores and moving to percentile ranking. ACT has not change. It is important you pay attention to any changes.

GRADE POINT AVERAGE 1. Bright Futures is calculated on a recalculated GPA, similar to how many universities do it. They take the highest GPA from each core area to meet the high school requirement, as well give added weight to honors, AP, IB, Dual-Enrollment,


Florida Academic Scholars 100% Tuition & $300 Books

Florida Medallion Scholars 75% Tuition

89th percentile ACT/ SAT* 3.5 recalculate GPA 100 service hours or Cambridge AICE & IB diplomas

75th percentile ACT/ SAT 3.0 recalculate GPA 75 service hours


Gold Seal Vocational or CAPE $39-48 Per Credit Hour Earn CAPE industry certification 30 service hours

* Florida state legislation has changed eligibility and award amounts every year for the last several years. Current legislation has moved from a singular cut-off score to percentile ranking, which can change every year with a start date of 2021. Students graduation in 2020 will be under the FAS- 29/1290 & FMS- 26/1170. Cambridge AICE, and other more rigorous courses. a.   For example, a student needs 3 science credits to graduate. If they take Environmental Science (A), Biology     (A), Chemistry (A), and Physics (C), Bright Futures take the 3 highest grades (A,A,A) and drops the one that is   not needed for graduation (C) because it was extra.  b.   This means a student, if they take MORE core classes than needed, are rewarded by having more     opportunities to receive the GPA requirement. 2. The high school weighted GPA is for FAS - 3.5 and FMS - 3.0.

SERVICE HOURS 1. For the top tier, 100 community service hours (75 for FMS) needs to be completed by the student throughout their high school years. It should be pre-approved by the school and often paperwork needs to be filled out to be submitted (see the school counselor for more information). 2. Approved service hours may now include business or government internships, work for a nonprofit community service organizations, or activity on behalf of candidates for public office. However, service hours cannot be used if credit was earned through service-learning courses.

WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW 1. Unfortunately, many students lose their Bright Futures scholarship because they do not keep up their college GPA of a 3.0. This is a good reason to choose a college wisely based on fit, not name. 2. Students have to apply. I have had students who were eligible simply did not apply because they thought it was automatic. More responsibility is being put on the student to send their information. Be sure to check with your school counselor the process of submitting service hours, transcripts, and test score 3. Bright Futures transfers to any public or private college in Florida. At private schools, it is equivalent to the amount a state university tuition would be. 4. Parents must apply for Florida Financial Aid Application. While the scholarship is not based on financial need, Florida requires this form to be filled out. 5. If students graduate in 7 semesters or in 105 semester hours or fewer, student can apply up to 15 credits paid at the undergraduate rate for graduate school programs.

OUT-OF-STATE Bright Futures in only available to Florida residents and does not transfer to out-of-state colleges. The only exception is for children of deployed military or on a public assignment (US State Department, US Embassy, etc) but they must be attending college in-state. Some other states might provide scholarships matching Bright Futures, but it does not transfer.




NON-PROFITS FOUNDATIONS Many non-profit organizations provide money, such as Rotary Club, 4H, and Boys & Girls Scouts.

Foundations are community-based programs that provide grants and scholarships.

Most school districts have donation money to provide for programs and student scholarships.

Local and state programs such as Take Stock in Children and ACE Mentor Program.


LESS COMPETITION Unlike national scholarships, local scholarships may have just a handful of students applying, increasing the change of earning one. COMMUNITY FOCUSED If you are active in your school or local community, you have a better chance at winning. DONOR BASED The reasons donors start scholarships is to support student's aspirations to reach their career goals. FUNDING While local scholarships tend to be smaller in amount, they can range from $100 to full-ride scholarships. Every bit helps pay for college expenses.

VARIETY Local scholarships supports all types of students, high achieving, low-income, athletes, specific schools and majors, unique family and personal situations.Â

DOCUMENTS NEEDED: Completion of the FAFSA Application Essay Transcript Standardized test scores Recommendation letters.


RESOURCES Most Florida counties, areas, and school districts, have their own foundations that support students through scholarship donation. It is important to check with your school counselor and school district on how to access them. This is not an exhaustive list, but provides a place to start and use as a resource. This is an excellent, underutilized source of scholarships.

While there are thousands of scholarships available to FLORIDA RESOURCES students, not allSTATE/ parentsCOUNTY and students know where to start the process.

Florida Department of Education Scholarships- https://www.floridastudentfinancialaidsg.org/pdf/nm4c_brochure.pdf Broward: Community Foundation of Broward- http://cfbroward.org/scholarships Charlotte: Charlotte Community Foundation: https://www.charlottecf.org/types-of-grants/scholarships/ Community Foundation of Collier: http://www.cfcollier.org/ Collier County & SW Florida Scholarship Connector (searchable database): http://www.colliercountyscholarships.org/ Eastern Florida: Eastern Florida Local Scholarships- http://www.easternflorida.edu/admissions/financial-aidscholarships/scholarship-information/outside-scholarships.cfm Hernando: Hernando County Education Foundation- https://www.hernandoeducationfoundation.org/p/61/student-scholarships#.WRnM6GjytPY Hillsborough: Hillsborough Education Foundation- http://www.educationfoundation.com/scholarships Indian River County: Scholarship Foundation of Indian River County - http://www.sfindianriver.org/

Northeast Florida: Community Foundation for Northeast Florida- https://www.jaxcf.org/file/2016/01/2015-TCFPutnam-County-Grants.pdf Ocala & Marion: Ocala Marion County Community Foundation- http://www.ocalafoundation.org/ Okaloosa, Walton & Bay County: http://fun4emeraldcoastkids.com/Education-Childcare/ScholarshipOpportunities/ Osceola: Osceola Education Foundation- https://www.foundationosceola.org/p/10/scholarships#.WRnOJ2jytPY Palm Beach & Martin: Community Foundation for Palm Beach & Martin Counties- http://www.yourcommunityfoundation.org/ Pinellas County: http://www.collegefundpinellas.org/ Polk: Polk Education Foundation Scholarships- https://www.polkccf.org/grants/scholarships.html Sarasota: Community Foundation of Sarasota County- https://www.cfsarasota.org/Students/StudentsSupporting-Your-Education SW Florida Community Foundation: floridacommunity.com/scholarships




FINANCIAL AID (FAFSA) While Federal Financial Aid or FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is not a scholarship, per se, it is a path to FREE money! In Florida alone, the federal and state government awarded $2.3 billion awarded to students attending 286 colleges and universities in Florida (FCAN, 2013). Unfortunately, many students, almost 45% of Florida students, simply don’t apply - leaving over $100 million on the table ever year. There are many reasons for this. 1.    Parents think they make too much or will not qualify. 2.    Parents make mistakes on the form. 3.    Parents do not know if the student is going to college or not, so they do not apply by the deadline. 4.    Parents think it is too complicated of a process and not worth the hassle. 5.    Parents think it will somehow hurt their business or child’s chances of getting into a college. Just imagine $100 million sitting on a table and saying, “Nope, I don’t want any part of that for a ten-minute application!” There is no reason not to do your FAFSA. If applying for college, you should just do it. Also, by not doing it, you could be excluded from other scholarship opportunities! FAFSA is not based on grades, extra-curriculars, or anything other than your finances. This truly provides access to higher education that some students never thought they had.

KEY FAFSA TERMS Award Letter: A document provided from a post-secondary institution where you have been admitted that breaks down your scholarships and types of financial aid. CSS Profile: The CSS Profile is only used by certain colleges and universities, which requires additional family information to award financial aid eligibility. Expected Family Contribution: This is the number determines how much a student's family will be expected to contribute towards college costs. The number results from the financial information you provide in your FAFSA form. Your EFC is reported to you on your Student Aid Report (SAR). CollegeBoard.org provides a great tool on estimating your EFC. Grants: Free money that does not need to be repaid. Grants are great! Loans: Money you have to pay back. If you can avoid loans, do so. There are two types of loans:    Subsidized: A loan that is to be paid back after the student graduates from college.   Unsubsidized: A loan that is a pay-as-you-go starting and cannot be deferred until after graduation. These   should be avoided if possible. Work Study: Working on campus provides the student spending money but also some goes towards their tuition bill. There are some great work study opportunities for students, and the college works around student’s schedules. Plus they do not have leave campus.


By: Rob Hicks, School Counselor at Fernandina Beach High School, Author of http://guidey.blogspot.com/ When it comes to considering financial aid for college, one of the

A tricky piece here is debt. Consumer debt like credit cards or car

most important numbers a family will need to know is their EFC.

loans are not factored in the EFC. Nor is your mortgage. This is a

This is the Expected Family Contribution, which is further defined

really important fact because a family that has a high debt

as the amount of money a family is expected to contribute out of

payment in whatever form is having that monthly expense

pocket to their student’s educational expenses. The EFC is

ignored when they are evaluated on how much money they can

generated by the information a family puts into FAFSA and has a

contribute to a child’s education.

direct impact on the amount of financial aid that is offered to a student. This part is simple, schools calculate their annual cost of

A student’s income and assets are also assessed as part of the

attendance (which includes living expenses, not just tuition) then

EFC. So, if your child worked in the prior prior year, their

they subtract the EFC for individual students and what’s left is the

information will be reflected on FAFSA as well. If fact, it is

financial need the college will need to package together in the

weighted more than the parents’. So, a student who is doing

form of aid and award to the student so they can pay to go to

particularly well in their earnings is going to increase the amount

college. What is far from simple is the formula used to calculate

a family is expected to contribute towards education faster or at

the EFC so that’s what we’ll be looking at here.

a higher rate than a parent.

However, I can’t possibly explain the complex formula so I’m just

This is a very simplistic view of what goes into the EFC. You can

going to try to look at some highlights and present them in

go pretty far down this rabbit hole if you really want. That

layman’s terms. First, you’re going to be using what FAFSA calls

descent might lead you to a tax advisor who can help you plan

the prior prior year’s tax return (that’s not a typo). Just subtract

ahead as you enter what will become your prior prior year. There

two years for the graduation year. So, a 2020 graduate is going to

may well be some things you can do financially that year or in the

use the 2018 tax return. The most critical number here is the AGI

years that surround it to reduce your EFC, though keep in mind

or adjusted gross income. This is the starting point for the EFC

you’ll need to complete a new FAFSA for each year your child is

calculation—how much money do the parents make. Other

in college. Therefore, any financial changes you make could just

financial factors that are included in the EFC are real estate

be kicking the can down the road. The good news is that is that

holdings other than the primary residence, investments, bank and

for families who have a younger child who will enter college

savings accounts, and educational savings such as 529 plans.

while an older child is still in college, subsequent college-enrolled

Things that are not included are retirement plans like IRAs, home

children significantly impact the EFC to the advantage of parents

equity, small business values, and the cash value of life insurance

and families.



98,442 Florida students filed their CHAPTER 4: PAYING FOR COLLEGE FAFSA Florida students earned an estimated $195,141,041 in Pell Grants! $100 million in FAFSA is left every While there are thousands of scholarships available to year in Florida alone because students students, not all parents and students know where to start simply do not apply. the process. 1.





PRIOR-PRIOR YEAR - The taxes used for FAFSA is two years before you start college. Example- Start date of Fall 2020, would be your 2018 tax return.

OCTOBER 1 - FAFSA opens to be submitted for the next school year. To receive the highest amount of aid, you should submit as close to the Oct.1 as possible. The Florida deadline is May 15th.

COMPLETE FAFSA ONLINE - Complete the FAFSA online at www.fafsa.gov. Check your school/ community for free support workshops to aid in the process.

COLLEGES - From your list of colleges you put into your FAFSA application, colleges will receive your financial aid materials and determine what financial aid you can receive in form of grants, work-study, or loans. The FAFSA review is done after the college has accepted you. AWARD LETTER - Each institution you are accepted to will provide you an award letter that breaks down your FAFSA award. You do not have to accept all aid, particularly loans, if you do not want or need them. Always take the grants (free money!).


of Florida students filed their FAFSA.


of Desoto


of Calhoun

44% of Lee


of Hillsborough

61% of Gulf




OTHER SOURCES ON MONEY These days, a college degree does not come cheap. Student loan debt in the United States now tops more than $1.3 trillion dollars, and the average student graduates with more than $37,000 in personal debt. Fortunately, Florida has While there thousands of scholarships to making it some of the cheapest in the nation. However, kept theirare college tuition rates steady for theavailable last few years, students, not all parents andaway students knowwhich where start more students are walking with debt, cantotake up to a decade to pay off completely! Besides the process. scholarships and financial aid, there are some other ways to reduced the costs of college expenses. 1. Join the Military. Not only does joining the military allow you to serve your country, it is also a great way to pay for college. If you serve before attending college, you will receive GI Bill benefits that pays all of your tuition and fees at a public university (or up to $17,500 at a private university). You can also obtain sizable scholarships by joining your college’s ROTC program with the intent to serve after graduation. 2. Work Part-time. Many students pick up part-time work while in high school. Transferring to another location near the student's college could be an ideal situation. With some extra spending money, a chance to meet new people, and a job they are familiar with, a part-time job could help in making ends meet. 3. Take Advantage of Employer Reimbursement Programs. There are a ton of different companies that offer to pay either half or all of an employee’s college tuition. This include IBM, UPS, Chipotle, Chrysler, and Starbucks, to name a few. In fact, for any employee working a minimum of 20 hours a week, Starbucks offers to pay half of their tuition through freshman and sophomore year, then full tuition reimbursement for their junior and senior year. Most of these companies do not even require the employee to remain with the company after graduation. 4. Live Off Campus. Many colleges require freshmen to live in on-campus housing, but moving to an off-campus house or apartment as soon as you are able has the potential to save you a ton of money. A certain amount of personal responsibility is required for it to be truly worthwhile. Living at home or renting a place during the school year will almost always be less expensive than $10,440 — the average cost for room and board at public universities. Find a roommate or two and the costs will shrink even more. 5. Get College Credits for Free or Reduced Rate. Do a little research to discover if the tuition you are paying is based on full-time status. If it is, find out how many credits are considered “full time.” While most college advisors recommend students take four to five academic classes per semester, it is possible you could add an extra class for the same tuition amount. If you are able, taking addition coursework can save you from paying for an additional semester further down the road and avoid excess credit penalties. 6. Negotiate Financial Aid Awards. Colleges – especially private institutions – might be willing to increase a financial aid package based on a reevaluation of need-based aid due to a change in income or a special circumstance, financial aid experts say. In some instances, institutions may even increase merit-based aid to entice a student to enroll to help meet their enrollment numbers and recruit top students. Speak with the college's Financial Aid Office to find out more.






Tuition & Fees





Standard Room & Board





Total Tuition, Room & Board





Security Escort Fee




Orientation Fee




Parking Fee




Other Expenses






Personal Expenses










Total Estimated Fees:





Total Cost to Attend (COA):





Scholarships & Grants





Subsidized Direct Loan








Unsubsidized Direct Loan Florida Pre-Paid/ 529 Other- Local Grants/ Outside Scholarships Federal Work Study


Total Estimated Financial Aid:





Total Net Cost of Attendance





STUDENT PROFILE Once John received his award letters, he compared all the packages in one spreadsheet so he could make the best financial decision. Laying out the estimated cost of attendance, that includes tuition, room and board, fees, books, and other expenses, and then compare that to his scholarships, grants, and loans, he was able to better predict how much he would need to pay for college. While the net cost of attendance is low, he still needs to take into account he was given loans (subsidized and unsubsidized) as part of the award letter. Over a four-year period, loans would amount to almost $42,000 at the state universities.




TALKING ABOUT PAYING FOR COLLEGE While it is tough to talk finances as a family, this is the time to sit down and find out what everyone's expectations are for your college future, especially your finances. It is estimated that student loan debt in the United States exceeds over $1.2 trillion with over 7 million debtors in default. On average, the Class of 2016 had over $37,172 in student loan debt. So even with scholarships and financial aid, there may be some gaps of funding that has to come from somewhere. Questions to discuss: If we need additional money, how will that happen?   Who will be in charge of repaying any loans?    What are the family's expectations on the student contributing through working in college?  Are there other alternatives to bring down the cost, like living off-campus, not having a car, meal plan options? What are you each comfortable with forgoing or doing?  What about incidental expenses? Besides school supplies (BOOKS!), what about gas, pizza on the weekends, trip to Publix for snacks and drinks, "having fun" money, etc.  What do you expect your monthly expenses are? As a student, do I have all the tools to be financially smart and make good financial decisions? Once you know the net price you will need to pay, build a budget now before you select your school (specific cities are more expensive - how does this affect your budget?) and have this discussion. As a young adult, you have to stick to this plan as it means racking up debt later on. Also, finding money needs to be a priority. After you have submitted your applications this should be considered a part-time job. With enough focus and dedication, more opportunities will come your way.

DISCUSSION POINTERS Paying for college is a team effort, and everyone has to be on the same page. A few ways to get there include: Set clear expectations. Determine what you will be able to contribute and how much your child should pay, is essential. Discuss the pros and cons of borrowing. Student loans are often difficult to understand. Using a monthly calculator so they understand exactly how much their monthly payments would be on the debt if they borrowed money. Encourage using senior year to earn scholarships. Senior is a busy time, but even earning a few scholarships can make a large impact reducing college expenses. You can help in locating scholarships and keeping track of deadlines. Discuss a cheaper start in a state/ community college. With the 2+2 Path and easy transferability, half the cost of public schools, and a fraction of private schools, starting at a state college can save time and money. Recommend financial planning budget courses. As students transition into college, they need to understand financial responsibility. This includes setting up a bank account, budgeting and savings. Many community banks have programs set up that can help students stay on track financially.



How to Appeal College Aid Know Colleges Compete





Appeal to College Interests


Special Circumstances






College offers are usually 80-90% of what they can ultimately be. Colleges often compete for student academic abilities (valedictorian, NMS-finalist, etc) and student talents (music, speech, language, arts and sciences, STEM, leadership, religious). Always ask for an appeal!

Both public and private are looking for top students. They will often match or exceed other offers to fill empty seats. Some specific college interests include wealthy parents, underrepresented minority students, geographically diverse, international students, and legacies.

Sometimes a student has a story that needs to be told in the financial equation. The appeals process is a non-formulaic review. A student can explain a one time, unusual issue, extraordinary expense (storm damage, medical bills, loss of job, etc), student challenges (talent expense), independent student (legally emancipated), and unusual family circumstance.

Appeal Form

Describe the reason (loss of income, unexpected life event, divorce, error on form and correction, high medical expenses, etc) and show documentation such as pay stubs, termination notice, second home expenses, etc.


Compare Awards


Writing Appeal Letter

Breakdown all awards in a streamlined spreadsheet, including college sticker prices, scholarships, parent contribution, loans, work study, and then net costs.

Start off explaining you are grateful for the acceptance and excited to attend. Bring in unique set of attributes, explain offer from other schools. Ask- "Is there a way to meet or exceed this offer?" State, "We are 100% committed to attend", and address letter to the Admissions office, CC appropriate stakeholders.

Profile for UnMazed

UnMazed Magazine: Teen's Guide to Paying for College (October 2019)  

UnMazed Magazine is dedicated to student success through informative, easily accessible college and career readiness resources. Visit us at...

UnMazed Magazine: Teen's Guide to Paying for College (October 2019)  

UnMazed Magazine is dedicated to student success through informative, easily accessible college and career readiness resources. Visit us at...


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