As the stock market drastically falls, so too do college endowment funds ― which underwrite the cost of scholarships and financial aid packages. In fact, most of these endowment funds have lost more than 30% of their value in recent months.
The impact on families getting ready to send their children to college is enormous. These colleges are likely to have less money available for merit-based scholarships and financial aid next year (and perhaps into the future as well).
- Be careful about applying Early Decision if you need financial aid. Call your top choice college to find out if you can gracefully get out of an Early Decision agreement if you don’t get enough financial aid. While this downward market is not likely to impact the Ivy League and colleges of similar stature, it will almost certainly hamper less well-endowed universities.
- Make sure that your college list include institutions which are economic safeties, such as the Florida state schools and selected out-of-state state universities. Include a few private institutions where your grades and test scores are likely to make you a shoe-in, and, thus help ensure a strong financial-aid or merit-based package. It will be important to include colleges where you can be admitted AND afford to go.
- Have something that will make you stand out in the application pool, something the colleges really want. Perhaps it’s a strong leadership position or significant community service ― or, more likely, stellar test scores. While it’s unfortunate that the SAT and ACT have become far more important than their original mission of college admission, the reality is that US News & World Report makes significant use of these standardize test scores ― the higher the scores, the higher the ranking, and the higher the ranking, the higher a college’s selectivity and, ultimately, its prestige. Thus, if you have higher test scores, you’re likely to get a better financial aid package (more grant money that you don’t have to repay, and less loan that you do have to repay) and even a stronger merit-based scholarship!