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January 2020
College Sore Card

The U.S. Education Department (ED) recently announced updates to its College Scorecard, an online tool designed to help students make informed decisions about their education options after high school. College Scorecard provides information regarding average cost, graduation rates, and loan default rates at higher education institutions in the United States.

With the latest updates to College Scorecard, students, parents, researchers, and colleges and universities can now view data in the following categories:

  • Program-level student loan debt
  • Median earnings based on field of study
  • Expanded data regarding graduation rates
  • Apprenticeship opportunities
  • Transfer rates

Read more about the changes in this recent article published in Forbes. We encourage you to add College Scorecard to the list of tools you provide to students as they begin their college admissions process.

Student-to-Counselor Ratios

Student-to-Counselor Ratios

Not surprisingly, research has shown that secondary school counselors play a critical role in the transition from high school to postsecondary education for our high school students. According to NACAC's State of College Admission report, the guidance of a school counselor is particularly significant for lower-income, first generation, and minority students. However, unmanageable caseloads can hinder a counselor's ability to assist students with their college planning.

Did you know the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) recommends that schools strive to maintain a ratio of no more than 250 students per school counselor? In 2015–16, only two states, Vermont and New Hampshire, had average ratios that met this standard. However, counselors in other states, such as Arizona and Michigan, had as many as 902 and 744 students in their caseloads respectively. There are several additional data points worth noting that also suggest a critical lack of access to school counseling assistance for students nationwide. For more information, read this recent NACAC study here.

Even in the states with the lowest ratios, there are substantial differences in student-to-counselor ratios between school districts. The National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC) has prepared an interactive series of state maps that highlight student-to-counselor ratios by school district highlighting these differences. View maps of student-to-counselor ratios by state or by New Hampshire school district, and download the accompanying report.

College Bound I Applied

The 2019 “I Am College Bound, I Applied” College Application Month program was a huge success! Thank you to all the New Hampshire school counselors, college admissions representatives, school volunteers, and students who participated in and made this annual event so successful.

Read a copy of the 2019 “I Am College Bound/I Applied” annual report here - https://nhheaf.org/pdfs/iacb/2019-IACBAnnualReport.pdf.

View our 2019 campaign photo gallery here - https://nhheaf.org/IACB-gallery-2019.asp.

For questions about the campaign, please contact College Outreach Specialist Denise Fall at 888.747.2382, ext. 119.

Destination College 2020

Registration Now Open!
Over 550 Registrants to Date!

WHAT: 21st Annual Destination College - New Hampshire's Statewide College Planning Convention for High School Juniors & Parents

WHEN: Saturday, March 28, 2020, 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

WHERE: Saint Anselm College


Destination College is the Center for College Planning's signature event and is designed to help high school juniors and their families prepare for entry into college. Attendees will have access to a variety of college planning workshops such as “Creative Ways to Manage the Cost of College,” “The Write Stuff,” and “Paths to Choosing a College Major.” In addition, representatives from over 60 colleges and universities from across New England will be on-hand as part of our annual college fair. We've got a great contest for a $500 scholarship for participating students as well!

All of the day's events are FREE to students and parents. However, registration is required. Posters to promote Destination College were sent to your counseling office in early January. For more details, visit at destinationcollege.org.


  • Volunteer during the event! Please contact College Outreach Specialist Karen Collins at 888.747.2382, ext. 119 or kcollins@gsmr.org to help with checking in our attendees, moderating a workshop, or assisting at our scholarship drawing table!
  • Promote our Destination College Speech Contest with your seniors! The contest is now open, and one lucky New Hampshire high school senior will win a $1,000 scholarship for college! Applications due Friday February 14th.
  • Encourage your juniors and parents to attend by sharing this promotional piece and this video with them!

Fafsa Filing Frenzy Contest

The 2020-2021 FAFSA Season is Here!
Help Your Senior Class Win Cash!

Did you know as of January 17, nearly 6,200 New Hampshire high school seniors have successfully submitted the 2020 – 2021 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?

New Hampshire high schools are invited to participate in our revamped FAFSA Filing Frenzy Contest for the 2019-2020 academic year. This contest is designed to increase the number of New Hampshire's high school seniors completing the FAFSA while offering resources to help students and families complete this first step in the financial aid process. And the fun part? If 65% of your school's senior class completes a FAFSA, your school will be entered into a drawing to win a cash prize to be used towards a school-sanctioned senior class activity!

To encourage your high school seniors to file their FAFSA, our colleagues in Louisiana used automated phone messages that typically came from a high school principal to encourage FAFSA filing. These messages included details about the materials families needed to successfully submit the FAFSA. If you would like our help in crafting a message to use in your school, please let us know.

We will periodically share details on the progress of FAFSA filing for all New Hampshire high school seniors over the coming months, and encourage you to engage your senior class to participate! For more details, please contact us at 888.747.2382, ext. 119.

Scholarships banner

We have recently added a free scholarship database for local, state, regional, and national scholarships to our website. Please feel free to add this link to your website as a resource and encourage your students to use it to view and apply for scholarships. The database is updated frequently, so please keep checking back as our database continues to expand!

If you have a scholarship to add to this helpful site, please email us.

FAFSA Verification

Verification Season Is Upon Us

This is the time of year when colleges will begin preparing admitted students' financial aid award packages. Remember that part of this process for students may be verifying information provided on the FAFSA or CSS Profile. This can include requests from the college for students to complete verification worksheets. Most colleges have several different worksheet options depending on a student's status, so they will give the student instructions as to which worksheet(s) they need to complete. In addition to the verification worksheet, there may also be a request for additional documentation. This documentation may include any of the following: IRS tax transcript, copy of filed tax returns, confirmation of homelessness from your school district's McKinney-Vento coordinator, probate court/guardianship documentation or DCYF youth in care (ward of the court) documentation.

Here are a few suggestions for things you can do to ease this process for your students and their families:

  1. Let your students know that verification is a normal part of the financial aid process. It does not mean that they have done anything wrong!
  2. Encourage students to set up their email and/or student profile on the college's portal (if required) and check it regularly for these types of verification requests.
  3. Remind students that they need to complete all forms on time! Students need to check with each college to which they have been admitted to determine whether there are verification forms to complete and when they need to be completed.
  4. Encourage students to stay connected with the Financial Aid Office. While Financial Aid Offices certainly work hard to keep students up to date, it's a good idea to follow up with them to confirm that all paperwork was received or to ask whatever questions a student might have. Students can also ask when the financial aid offer will be ready so they can be on the lookout for it in their emails or on the portal. Connecting using email works well so that a student will have everything in writing to refer to later if there are questions.
  5. And finally, you can help facilitate communication with a college's financial aid office if a student has a barrier in performing the verification or has a special circumstance they wish to convey. Remind students that even if they are not selected for verification, they should notify their schools of any changes or "special circumstances." Because FAFSA uses income data from two years prior, a family's circumstances may have changed. If there has been a large decrease in income, a divorce or separation, a death in the family, unusual medical expenses, or other issues that impact the family's ability to pay for college, encourage students to contact the school's Financial Aid Office. They won't know about the changes unless they are notified and they will want a chance to re-evaluate the financial aid offer.

For more information about the verification process, please click here.

Questions from the Road

Each year, the CCP counselors travel throughout the state of New Hampshire providing over 300 presentations in public, private, and charter high schools. We love when families ask us questions, and in this e newsletter feature we share one of those questions with you.

Question: This season we have had a number of families who have filed their FAFSA using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) surprised by an unusually high expected family contribution (EFC). They ask, “We know an EFC can be high, but is it possible for our EFC to be two or three times our family's annual income (AGI)?”

The simple answer is no. This is not common at all, and sent up many red flags for our counselors. We have found that when families use the DRT and pull over their tax information, if they have had a ROLLOVER in that year, meaning money was transferred from one retirement account to another (commonly with a change in employer), then on the FAFSA, this is added to the available annual income. So, even though the money never came to the family and is in a retirement vehicle that should not be counted in the EFC calculations, the DRT pulls it into the FAFSA. A quick glance at the family's tax return (1040) will show a ROLLOVER on line 6a.

So how do we fix this? First and foremost, we need to reassure the family that it will be okay. Second, the parent or student will need to contact each individual college's financial aid office. By letting the college know that the family had a ROLLOVER this past year, the college can look at the IRS information and correct the calculation. In essence, they will remove the ROLLOVER amount from the available income and now just look at the family's actual earned income to recalculate the EFC. But remember, each school has to correct this for themselves, meaning, even if one school makes the correction, the student's other colleges can't see it. In the end, this is actually an easy fix as long as the family reaches out to each college to make the correction.

For further clarification about this, please call us at 888.747.2382, ext. 119.

Questions that make you go Hmmm...

In this popular e-newsletter feature, we take a look at what might be a complex college admissions or financial aid question or situation that we've recently encountered that has made us take a moment to think about the correct response. What would your response be?

Situation: A student has received a financial aid award letter from their college of choice. There is a $10,000 gap the family needs to cover. The student comes to you with concerns that their parents (who are married) don't think they can co-sign a loan since mom is currently in default of her own federal student loan and has very poor credit.

What options are appropriate for you to offer?

  1. Suggest a private student loan in the student's name without a co-signer.
  2. Suggest dad apply for either a private loan or federal PLUS loan since his credit is separate from mom (even though they are married) and he may qualify for the loan.
  3. Suggest that mom apply for a federal PLUS loan and get denied (due to being in default of her own student loan) and then the student can access $4,000 more of their own Federal Direct Student Loan.
  4. Suggest a payment plan that allows the family to make interest free payments to the college (typically over 4 to 10 payments throughout the year) instead of financing the gap.
  5. Suggest they ask a family member, other than the parents, if he or she would be willing to cosign on a private student loan.
  6. F. Answers B-E.

Correct Answer- F

Certainly, all is not lost for this student; there are still avenues to pursue. First, let's look at why answer A won't work. In order to borrow from a private lender, students need a viable co-signer unless they have approximately $30,000 in annual income and a credit score of 675 or greater. Therefore, most high school seniors will need a cosigner in order to secure a private loan.

Now let's look at the other options for the student that could help to pay for the gap. In answer B, it is important to remember that even though a couple is married, they have individual credit scores. It is absolutely possible for one parent to have had a bankruptcy or be in default while the other parent remains a viable cosigner for a loan.

In answer C, mom can apply and get denied for a PLUS loan which will allow the student to get $4,000 additional funds in their own student loan. But remember, they would still need $6,000 more in this scenario, so that could open up answer D in combination. The family could then look at a tuition payment plan to pay the rest of the balance. Lastly, in answer E, the family could approach a credit-worthy family or friend someone else to be a viable cosigner for the student.

If you think you have a student who could benefit from exploring all their options, have them make a FREE funding options appointment with one of our college counselors. We are happy to brainstorm options with them. If you would like further clarification on the response, please call us at 888.747.2382, ext. 119.

In Case You Missed It

In Case You Missed It

Last January, we hosted “Demystifying the Financial Aid Process,” a webinar for high school counselors, faculty, and staff sponsored by New Hampshire Alliance for College and Career Readiness. This webinar was developed to help all school personnel gain a high level understanding of how financial aid works, who is eligible to apply, and which family members are required to complete the FAFSA form in certain situations.

We encourage you to watch the recording and share it with your colleagues. This information can also be shared with your school's staff and faculty as part of an in-service or professional day training. Ask us how by calling 888.747.2382, ext. 119.