College Admissions Counseling News

NACAC Update #2

News from the College Admissions Counselor Conference Part 2

We had to ship back three boxes of information and materials we picked up at the conference! Here are the rest of our notes.


In this flyer:


  • news about FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid)
  • more on paying for college
  • the transfer option
  • arts school portfolios
  • gap year

FAFSA (Financial Aid)

The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and the deadlines are changing next year.


For this year's seniors, the application will be available on January 1, 2016. In order to be eligible for Cal Grants and other institutional-based aid, students are encouraged to complete the application as soon as possible, and no later than March 2, 2016 for aid in fall of of 2016.


For current juniors, the official release date for next year’s FAFSA will be October 1, 2016 for students who will begin college in the fall of 2017. Also new for next year's process is PPY, which stands for Prior Prior Year and is a recent policy change that will permit families to use an earlier tax return when completing FAFSA. This is significant because it means that families can file a completed FAFSA form much earlier in the admissions cycle (October of the senior year) rather than waiting until February or March. The shift to PPY means that virtually all required federal tax returns will have been filed for the tax year being used to complete the FAFSA, making the process much less stressful for families.


How can parents plan ahead financially?


How much will college cost?


What kind of financial assistance is available?


Who counts as a parent?


What if the legal parent/s is/are undocumented?


Students and parents, get FSA IDs early:

  • FSA ID replaced Federal Student Aid PIN in May 2015

  • Student and parent can get FSA ID any time

  • Each person MUST set up his/her own FSA ID for privacy purposes and to avoid confusion

  • Info and access to create FSA ID


What’s the best way for the parent and student to collaborate on the FAFSA?

  • FAFSA belongs to student

  • Student and parent access IRS DRT separately

  • Student signs w/FSA ID; parent signs with his/her own FSA ID

  • Parent with no SSN puts all zeroes

  • Accessing and signing from different locations is possible

More on paying for college

Which are better for the family: parent loans (PLUS) or student loans (Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized)?

  • Depends on family

  • Many need both

  • Parent loans enter repayment immediately and have higher interest rates (can be deferred while child in school & 6 mos afterward)

  • Student loans don’t need cosigner

  • If parent can’t qualify for PLUS, student can get additional Unsub

  • Repayment plans similar but most parent PLUS ineligible for income- based

  • Note: Student loans and parent loans can’t be consolidated


How can a student minimize borrowing?

Transferring to a 4-year from a 2-year

While we spend most of our time preparing students to apply directly to a 4-year institution in our CCR classes, we do also cover staying at the community college and transferring to a 4-year; we urge students to meet with the transfer counselors as they are the best sources of information on campus.


Transferring is a great option for many students:


  • the degree/diploma is issued by the 4-year institution with no indication that the degree was started at a community college
  • when students transfer to a 4-year institution with a 2-year degree, they tend to graduate at a higher rate than those who come in with credits below a 2-year degree-level
  • high school records typically are not part of the transfer admission process, so a student with low high school grades has an opportunity to "start over" at the community college
  • SAT and ACT scores are also usually not required for transfer students, so students who have difficulty with test-taking don't need to stress
  • community colleges are far less expensive than 4-year colleges and class sizes for introductory courses are much smaller
  • the transition to college tends to be easier -- perhaps in part because most student who go directly to community college from high school tend to live at home
  • there is a clear pathway in California from community colleges to UC and CSU



ASSIST is an online student-transfer information system that shows how course credits earned at one public California college or university can be applied when transferred to another. ASSIST is the official repository of articulation for California’s public colleges and universities and provides the most accurate and up-to-date information about student transfer in California.


Six UC campuses offer the Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) program for California community college students who meet specific requirements. The TAG matrix [PDF] provides a list of participating campuses and campus-specific requirements to qualify.


Transferology is a national network that helps students research transfer options.

Applying to art school

What should go in the art portfolio?


  • Not just your best work -- read carefully to see what the school wants in your portfolio; different schools have different requirements
  • Work can be from an art class or what you've done on your own
  • Include more than one image into one slide of a portfolio -- give them more than they asked for and show progression
  • show different media -- they want multidimensional students who try different things
  • include 10-20 piece that show who you are as an artist
  • think about the story your portfolio will tell -- choose with intention


Find an art school!

Check Portfolio Day for more information on the event in San Francisco on 1/16/16.

Gap Year

The Gap Year is a good opportunity for many students who want to pursue a passion for a year or who may need time to mature socially, academically, and financially. It is NOT a year to sit around the house playing video games!


How Do Gap Year Students Perform in College Afterwards? (based on studies done at Middlebury and UNC Chapel Hill)

Myth: • Lose academic momentum, drop out of college at higher rates, etc.

Reality: • On average, perform at higher levels than those who don’t take a gap year


Typical gap year student profiles – all shapes and sizes

• “The worker” – high scores, high GPA

• “Meaning seeker” – high scores, lower GPA

• “Pragmatist” – attend college with clearer focus

• “The struggler “– learning differences

• “The floater “– not fully engaged, on immature side


Benefits of gap time:

• Optimizes the natural break between high school and college

• Reignites the love of learning

• Connects the relevance of classroom studies to the world

• Deepens passions and expands interests

• Provides experience and skills for college and career

• Creates a clearer sense of college major and career path


Students thinking about a gap year should still apply to college and then determine if the colleges will allow them to defer admission for a year.


Check the American Gap Association for resources.


Last year one of our students was accepted to Global Citizens Year; she is currently in Brazil for the year.