DCPS College Readiness Workshop

Join us tomorrow, June 15th, 2013 at University of the District of Columbia for the DCPS College Readiness Workshop!

  • Are you a student interested in attending college?
  • Are you a parent seeking more information about how to afford college?
  • Do you wonder how a student can be admitted to the college of their choice?
  • Do you wonder how a student can best prepare for college success while in high school?
  • Would you welcome the opportunity to learn directly from admission officers and scholarship administrators how they evaluate student applications?

The DCPS College Readiness Workshop will provide scholars and their families with an opportunity to engage admission and financial aid professionals from selective colleges, universities, programs and scholarships around the country.  Scholars and their families will be exposed to what will be expected of them in the college admissions process.  You will also learn about programs that can support your goals of accessing a competitive, challenging college education.  High-Achieving 9th through 11th grade students and their families from the District of Columbia and surrounding communities are encouraged to attend.

Participating Colleges, Universities, and Programs

Amherst College – Amherst, MA

Barnard College – New York, NY

Boston University – Boston, MA

Chatham University – Pittsburgh, PA

Colby College – Waterville, ME

Cornell University – Ithaca, NY

Davidson College – Davidson, NC

University of Florida – Gainesville, FL

Gates Millennium Scholars – Washington, DC

George Washington University – Washington, DC

Harvard University – Cambridge, MA

Johns Hopkins University – Baltimore, MD

OSSE Higher Education Financial Services (DC TAG) – Washington, DC

University of Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, PA

Phillips Academy Andover Postgraduate Year – Andover, MA

The Posse Foundation – Washington, DC

Princeton University – Princeton, NJ

Rutgers University – Camden, NJ

Tufts University – Medford, MA

U.S. Air Force Academy – Colorado Springs, CO

U.S. Coast Guard Academy – New London, CT

U.S. Military Academy at West Point – West Point, NY

Wellesley College – Wellesley, MA

University of Virginia – Charlottesville, VA

University of Wisconsin – Madison, WI




What is the FAFSA?

Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first key step in applying for financial aid. The FAFSA is a questionnaire created by the Federal government that determines a family’s eligibility for federal financial aid programs such as the Pell grant, Perkins and Stafford loans, and federal work study. However, many states, scholarship programs, and colleges also use the FAFSA to determine whether a family needs financial assistance to attend college, and how much. You must fill out a new FAFSA each year that you plan to apply for financial aid.

What type of questions does the FAFSA ask?

The goal of the FAFSA is to understand a family’s financial situation in a given tax year. It will ask questions such as:

• What was the total income of the household? This includes both student and parent/legal guardian income.

• What assets are owned by members of the household?

• How many people are in the household of the family applying for aid?

• How many of those people are college students?

Fill out the FAFSA Early

The FAFSA is available and should be completed January 1st of the year that the student plans on attending college. So, rising seniors who will graduate with the class of 2014 will be able to fill out the FAFSA starting January 1st, 2014. Current seniors in the class of 2013 also have time to fill out the FAFSA for Fall 2013 or Spring 2014—but should complete the form right away!

A family should fill out the FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1st. Many colleges have financial aid deadlines in early February, and submitting financial aid paperwork late may cause a delay in receiving a financial aid award. The FAFSA is available online and most families complete and submit the form this way. It is available in both English and Spanish. Keep in mind that the FAFSA is free—a student should never be asked to pay to complete the FAFSA.

Check out this video from the U.S. Department of Education on completing the FAFSA.

Junior Year Financial Aid Checklist

As high school juniors begin to research colleges and build a college list, they should also research financial aid opportunities. Here’s a checklist of steps that juniors should undertake before September of their senior year.

Learn about types of financial aid: There are many different resources to help you understand the basics of financial aid. See the Collchecklistege Board’s post Financial Aid Can Help You Afford College, the Federal Student Aid website, or past Financial Aid Friday posts on DCPS College Talk. FinAid.org is another great source to learn about types of financial aid.

Understand the difference between net price and sticker price: See our post about the difference between the published “sticker price” of a college and the actual price.

Start exploring college net price calculators: A net price calculator can help a student and their parents/guardians get a sense of out of pocket college expenses, based on financial information provided by the family. See our post on net price vs. sticker price for further details. You can also compare information for selected colleges’ net price calculators on CollegeAbacus.com.

Make a list of your interests, strengths, and passions: What do you like to do? What do you enjoy learning? What activities do you do outside of class? Making an inventory of your interests and achievements can help you identify potential scholarships.

Start researching scholarships: Check out our weekly highlighted scholarships and follow DCPS College Prep on Twitter for the Scholarship of the Day. FinAid.org and FastWeb.com have national scholarship search services. Naviance Family Connection, an online portal to search for and apply to colleges, is available to every DCPS student and also has scholarship search capabilities. Ask your school counselor about accessing Naviance.


Attend the DCPS College Readiness Workshop on June 15 at University of the District of Columbia: On June 15, 2013 from 9:30 am – 2:30 pm, college admissions officers and financial aid representatives from the nation’s most selective colleges and universities will join the DCPS College Readiness Initiative team at University of the District of Columbia to lead workshops on the college admissions process and applying for financial aid. There will also be a college fair where families can speak to college admissions officers directly. Get more details about the day and register online here.

 Questions about financial aid? Leave us a comment or send us an email at dcpscollegereadiness@dc.gov.

Net Price vs. Sticker Price

Word of the WeekStack of quarters

Net price (n.) The full cost of attendance for a particular college, minus scholarships and grants awarded to a student. Cost of attendance includes tuition and fees, room and board, books, transportation, and other miscellaneous expenses. The net price for a college will be specific to each family because it is based both on a family’s financial situation and the financial aid policies of the college.

Why is Net Price Important?

As high school sophomores and juniors begin the college search and start to look at how much college can cost, some families might experience sticker shock. Many private four-year colleges have a listed price of over $40,000 yearly, and the cost of public state university increased a record 8.3% last year alone. Families may even find themselves saying, “Let’s cross this potential college off the list right now. There’s no point in even considering colleges we can’t afford.” However, it’s important to consider the difference between sticker price, the amount published on the university website, and net price.

Don’t Get Sticker Shock

While college is certainly an investment for most families, the costs published on a college’s website is not necessarily the amount a family will pay for a student to attend that college. Why? When a student applies for college, the student and family will also apply for financial aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the CSS College PROFILE, and/or other financial aid forms required by the college. A student may also apply for merit-based scholarships. For many families, theses financial aid awards will greatly reduce the cost of college. This is the difference between sticker price and net price. In fact, the College Board reports that while the average sticker price for public colleges is $8,660 annually, the average net price is only $2,910. For private colleges, the average sticker price is $29,060, but the average net price is less than half of that, at $13,380. For families making less than $30,000 per year, it can be much lower. An American Enterprise Institute study notes that a family in this category paid only $4,496 to attend Stanford University in California, which had a sticker price of $55,918 in 2011.

It is necessary to have an honest family conversation about what is affordable when it comes to financing college. But as students begin to build a list of prospective colleges, don’t eliminate schools because they look expensive. Depending on the financial situation of the family and the resources of the school, a college with a higher sticker price may actually end up being less expensive than a college with a lower published cost. More expensive colleges often have higher endowments, with more money to spend on student financial aid.

Calculator.pngTools: Net Price Calculators

Since 2011, all colleges and universities that receive money from the federal government must display a net price calculator on their website. Students and parents enter their financial situation (family information, income, assets, etc.) in the calculator. The data is used to calculate the grants and scholarships that will be offered to the family. Depending on the calculator, it may also include loans that are available as part of a financial aid package. Finally the calculator displays an estimated net price based on the information entered. While it is only an estimate and not a promise of financial aid, the net price calculator can be a useful tool to understand the amount of aid a college may award to a family. Make sure to put in the most accurate information possible when using a net price calculator—the information you receive is only as good as the information you enter. The net price calculator is usually located on the financial aid webpage of a college or university. See below for examples of net price calculators.

Examples of Net Price Calculators

Davidson College, Davidson, NC

Georgetown University, Washington, DC

Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

University of District of Columbia, Washington, DC

University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA

Xavier University, New Orleans, LA

Colleges and Universities Using College Board Net Price Calculator

U.S. News and World Report Top 300 List of Net Price Calculators

Have questions? Leave us a comment or email us at dcpscollegereadiness@dc.gov