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The months of June and July are primarily known for:

  • Weddings

  • The First Day of Summer

  • Vacations

  • Graduations

By now, for those students who have been placed on wait lists, it's a good idea to send a final transcript to those schools as well. While there's no guarantee that submitting a final transcript will boost their chances, it doesn't hurt to try. Students by should have completed their roommate preference surveys, submitted housing and health forms, and taken whatever subject placement tests their college require. They should also have submitted a copy of their final transcripts.

If the student is a D1 or D2 athlete, the NCAA also needs a copy of their final high school transcript.

A Parent's Right To Know What's Going On Is Not Automatic

When students reach 18, they are considered adults and thus have certain rights of privacy. Parents should know that the college won't automatically give you the right to access your student's educational and financial records. Because of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the student will have to sign a form explicitly allowing parents to access certain information.

Even if a student fails classes or does not have enough funds to pay for classes, neither the dean, their professors, nor the administration can notify parents of their student's situation because FERPA binds them. Even if you think you already signed a waiver, make sure you sign one for academics and one for financial records.

To give you an idea of what's required, here is a sample from Yale University on how to get Proxy Access and Authorization from your student. Please check with your college on how to gain access to your student's accounts.

HS Juniors: A Look Ahead

Because the number of college applications has declined so much, the smaller regional colleges are at risk of merging with other institutions or closing their doors altogether. Even though the number of applicants are no longer in free fall (for the time being), there are consequences to the towns these campuses inhabit-- especially those in rural spaces.

If the college your student is considering is seeing a shrinking student body, the town can suffer in ways that may negatively impact the college experience.

An example is the town of Montgomery, West Virginia. When West Virginia University decided to move West Virginia Tech to Beckley, a bigger city an hour away, Montgomery effectively became a ghost town. Even the pizza parlor was forced to shut down.

The smallest group of college applicants in years hasn't dented the number of students applying to name-brand colleges. In fact, quite the opposite has occurred. More students than ever applied to the more competitive schools, causing the lowest acceptance rates in history.

To help your student increase their odds, make sure to do the following:

  • Cast a wide net. Look at colleges that fit your student's academic profile and personal preferences, such as size and price, but maybe farther from home. Find colleges where your student is likely to be in the top 10% of their applicants. Be realistic. Many target schools are now reach schools, and reach schools are even more out of range for most applicants.

  • Your student should plan to take the SAT or ACT since data suggests that the top colleges-- even those that are test-optional, do favor those who submit test scores.

  • Expect the top colleges to see record numbers of applications and admit rates to drop, particularly Regular Decision (RD) rates. To increase your chances of being offered admission, consider applying to a dozen or more schools, as this is becoming the norm.

  • Historically, we've discouraged students from applying Early Decision (ED), because if admitted, you won't have the advantage to leverage a better award package. But if you won't have any financial need at the colleges that don't offer merit scholarships, then ED can make sense.

Real Estate, Business Values, and Farms Are Now Being Counted Against You

We have clients who receive income from real estate rentals. These parents mistakenly believed that their real estate was a business and wouldn't be counted in the financial aid formula. Sadly, rental real estate is considered an investment.

For real estate rentals to qualify as an excludable business, services such as food or laundry must be made available. This is not likely to happen. However, there is another option: instead of filing a Schedule E, discuss with your CPA or accountant or Kage Rush of Whitaker-Myers Tax Advisors, the creation of a U.S. Corporation, and file IRS form 1120. The income you take is ordinary W-2 income, and a portion of the rent can be taken as a loan. Yes, the income is taxable, but you can reduce your tax liability in any number of ways.

Until now, family businesses were excluded from the financial aid formula. Businesses with hard assets and inventories are now being assessed and could reduce or eliminate any need-based financial aid that would have been available prior to the 2024-2025 school year. To avoid being assessed, the only type of business that is excluded are 1120 US Corporations.

Also, family farms were previously excluded from the aid formula. Now, the equity, acreage, and the equipment will be counted against a family living on a farm. There is no way around this, short of Congress repealing this or persuading the college to use its Professional Judgement to exclude it.

Lastly, beginning in the Fall of 2024, parents with two or more students going to college at the same time will lose their discount for multiple students.

Families with Adjusted Gross Incomes of $80,000 or more will suffer the consequences the most.

Given these changes, which will make college affordability an even more daunting issue for business owners, farm owners, and families with multiple children in college at the same time, I urge you to reach out to me and schedule a college-planning consultation through our new College Planning Service offered by our Financial Coaching Team. There ARE ways to mitigate the impact of these changes, and it is going to require advance planning! Contact us at 330-345-5000 or to get the process rolling. It could mean the difference between saving substantial amounts on your college expenses and taking on crushing student loan debt or sacrificing your retirement savings goals!


July 4, 2023

John-Mark Young

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