We have explained in the past that when families face economic decisions of all sorts, test preparation (SAT/ACT) for college entrance suffers, too. Ironically, the money spent in test prep can have major implications for a family’s undergraduate tuition payments. The long-term financial repercussions of foregoing focused preparation are potentially large. For Florida residents, test score results have a direct impact on Bright Futures disbursement levels. Beyond Bright Futures is the misty area of college merit scholarships (provided by each school), the amount of which is linked to test scores. And even financial aid at many colleges is linked to test scores. The higher the score, the higher the financial reward.
The applicant pool continues to increase, and along with that increase has been a rise in admission standards. We have observed the competition increase for acceptance into Florida’s state schools. The cut-off for the Bright Futures Florida Medallion Award has jumped significantly over the past six years, to 1170 for the SAT (from 970), and to 26 on the ACT (from 20). That’s a significant increase! And the State of Florida’s education money pool has shrunk in the meantime.
Currently, Bright Futures awards Academic Scholars $103/semester hour, and Medallion Scholars $77/semester hour, up to a maximum of 45 semester hours in one academic year (fall through spring). (Full descriptions of qualifications for Bright Futures are available from your guidance counselor and at Florida Student Financial Aid). These Bright Futures scholarships can obviously have a major impact on tuition costs over student’s four undergraduate years, leading to substantial family savings. Families of students who meet the GPA criterion (3.5 for Scholars, 3.0 for Medallion) would be wise to invest in test preparation.
More on the college element: most colleges award academic credit for high AP or IB exam scores, and these credits can translate into a lighter course load or early graduation. And finally, when it comes to four-year colleges and universities, a student with higher test scores is more likely to receive offers of merit-based scholarships rather than offers of financial aid in the form of loans that must ultimately be paid back. How’s that for test prep incentive?
Families who choose the community college option sometimes neglect the SAT/ACT. However community colleges also rely on standardized test scores for placement in courses. Lower scoring students must enroll in remedial classes, which do not fulfill graduation requirements, and so increase the cost of college education by extending the number of semesters of study to meet diploma requirements. For a student determined to earn an associate’s degree in two years, this can be a frustrating and demeaning realization. At the end of a remedial course, a student once again faces a standardized exam. To avoid such remedial courses at the state and community colleges, scores of 440 on the SAT Reading and Math (or 18 on the ACT English and Math) are required. Reaching an SAT Reading score of 500 (or ACT scores of 21 in English and 22 in Reading) and an SAT Math score of 500 (or an ACT score of 21 in Math) not only allows full course selection, but also exempts the student from taking the CLAST, another standardized test required for both graduation from community college and for admission into a 4-year university.
With the SAT and ACT, there’s more at stake than admission into your dream school. Time and money spent at the “front end” to effectively prepare for the SAT and/or ACT can have a financial impact well into the future. Spend your money wisely for test prep. Your optimum choice is a test prep organization with a proven track record of score improvement based upon years of focused experience. Score At The Top, through its five accredited learning centers in Palm Beach and Broward counties, has provided families with over 35 years of successful test preparation and academic tutoring. We know that our approach works, turning best intentions into best scores. Contact us for the best guidance and tools to build your collegiate future!