I was looking through my email the other day and I had an email from a reader that read something like this...

"My daughter was valedictorian and had phenomenal grades in high school and her first year of college. She is currently a sophomore in college; can't anything be done to help her get more financial aid money? You seem to always talk about high school students, but what about students already in college?"

In a nutshell, the reason why this parent's daughter isn't getting more financial aid money is because there is no need to offer more on the part of the college. She's there. She's invested on their campus; she's progressing in her studies. They know darn well that the odds are in their favor that she isn't going to go anywhere.

This student's greatest opportunity to get the most money to help pay the college bill was BEFORE she submitted that enrollment deposit.

Parents of college-bound high school students - you need to pay attention to this: When it comes to getting money to help pay the college bill, your greatest opportunity is NOW. What do I mean by that? Simple: Once your student commits to a school and says "Yes, I'm coming" your leverage at that school drops to ZERO.

You see, as the current economy has been unfolding itself, we're realizing all over again that getting a college education is as important as ever. Making sure you don't pay one dollar more than is necessary is absolutely essential.

Now, while I don't know particulars about this student and this family, I can identify the key mistake they likely made:

They likely did the "college thing" as it's "always been done" - they got so consumed with picking colleges and applying to colleges that they didn't incorporate the financial considerations into their thinking until it was too late. They didn't seek out strategies that could help them lower what the colleges would expect them to pay. Their student didn't target colleges that had the programs she wanted and the money she needed.

I tell families all the time: it's just as easy to fall in love with colleges that have the money you need to help pay the bill as it to fall in love with ones that don't. The trick is knowing how.

BUT, when you do things as they've "always been done", it's a roll of the dice - you might get lucky and your child picks colleges that have money, or as is more often the case, they pick schools that don't. And typically, when you do it "as it's always been done", you won't find out you've made these mistakes until the end of the process. And then it's way too late.

If you don't take action now and do things differently, you cannot complain about the results later.

You only have ONE chance to get this done and done right. Procrastinating will not make this easier; it will actually make it harder.

Your Assignment:

Start outlining your plan now! To get started, here are some questions you need to ask yourself:

1. How much will the colleges expect me to pay?
2. How much am I prepared to pay?
3. At what types of colleges will my student be most competitive for the money that's available?
4. How will my student separate himself from the thousands of other kids on the admissions officers' desks with the same good grades, good SAT scores, lots of activities and community service?
5. How will I make sure that my student doesn't pick colleges I can't afford?

Author's Bio: 

If you're looking for ways to get your student in to college and get the money you need to pay for it, and you know you definitely DON'T want to leave it to chance, contact me for a 30-minute 'Get Acquainted Session' to see if there are ways I can help you. Simply email me at coach@jeankeller.com or visit www.KellerCollegeServices.com and we'll set up a time to chat.