114R | Fine Tuning the College Equation | PSAT and National Merit Scholarship

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114R | Fine Tuning the College Equation
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Brian Eufinger returns to fill the gaps and address questions from the community about PSATs and National Merit Scholars, Brad and Jonathan discuss the benefits of creating a college-hacking strategy early, and the ChooseFI community responds to Monday’s episode.

  • Financial independence is generally about knowing the rules and making decisions according to what you value in life.
  • Many colleges use an equation to award merit aid –> a specific GPA + a specific test scores = a certain amount of merit aid.
  • With a better strategy to studying for the SAT or ACT, even a small bump could save someone tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  • Is it better to get a summer job, or spend the summer studying for the SAT/ACT?
  • With the Common Application, it’s beneficial to apply to a few extra schools because the merit aid packages available are hugely varied.
  • Just being aware of the rules gives you the best opportunities to succeed, and to opens up as many options as possible.
  • How has Brad’s mindset toward paying for college changed during the past two years of ChooseFI interviews?
  • A message from Paul in the Facebook group, who appreciated that Brian presented college scholarships with a realistic perspective about the challenges.
  • A comment from Rayanne, who shares the process her daughter is navigating as a graduating senior in California, looking for the best scholarship opportunities.
  • Lynn is grateful for Brian’s realistic suggestion that students don’t start studying for the SAT until the end of their sophomore year; in New Jersey even sixth graders are being asked to consider future standardized tests.
  • Julie messaged to remind parents that students should also study for the PSAT, as the PSAT is what determines a student’s National Merit standing.
  • Brian Eufinger, from Monday’s episode, returns to talk about the PSAT and National Merit Scholars:
    • CLEP credits and dual enrollment are good options for high school and current college students.
    • Academic Common Market – in some states, students can pay in-state costs at an out-of-state school if they’re majoring in a subject unavailable in-state.
    • Making a college-transfer strategy early will help students transfer from a community college to a four-year institution without any hiccups.
    • “There’s no greater financial aid than finishing in four years.”
    • Bringing AP credits into college gives a student more flexibility to change majors, study abroad, work internships or co-ops, or study for post-grad tests.
    • In rural areas that don’t offer as many AP courses, many states offer online AP courses.
    • The reward for being a National Merit Scholar varies widely between universities, but can be as much as a full ride, books, etc.
    • PSAT is offered in sophomore and junior year.
    • If your sophomore student scores higher than 1300 on a PSAT, it’s a disservice to not study for the PSAT in their junior year.
    • Only 50,000 students get National Merit status:
      • Top 16,000 students are awarded “semi-finalist” status
      • Next 34,000 get “commended” status
    • Many campuses offer cash for participating in graduate research projects.
    • Being a Resident Advisor (RA) at most schools earns you free room and board, which can be as much as $20k a year.
    • Becoming an RA is typically competitive, so start planning your application earlier.
    • Being an RA is potentially the biggest scholarship you can get.

 

  • The financial independence group in Scandinavia just surpassed 1,000 members.
  • The Houston ChooseFI Local Group is hosting Alan Donegan from the Pop Up Business School, along with the San Diego and Los Angeles local groups.
  • Jonathan will join the Washington, D.C., Local Group for a meet up soon.

 

Links mentioned in today’s show:

ChooseFI Episode 83 – “Fly to FI”

EdisonPrep

ChooseFI Episode 30 – “The Side Hustle: The Unspoken Lever of FI”

ChooseFI has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. ChooseFI and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.
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