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Are Professional Student Aid/Scholarship Consultants/Finders Legitimate, Helpful or Worth It?

PositivelyMePositivelyMe Registered User Posts: 17 New Member
My husband and I were recently referred to a company that assists with financial aid and grant/scholarship finding, FASA preparation, SAT and essay preparation, etc.

Has anyone ever used this type of service? A colleague swears it helped her family and was worth the money! I need more convincing.
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Replies to: Are Professional Student Aid/Scholarship Consultants/Finders Legitimate, Helpful or Worth It?

  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 62,542 Senior Member
    In terms of scholarships, and financial aid....most of that information can be found on the college websites.

    The FAFSA is free, and honestly...it's not hard to do. You just use the right tax return, and have your asset information at the ready...and just do it. Do you really want to give that information to a third party?? In addition, they should NOT submit it for you as it requires a FSA ID number...one for,the student and one for one parent...and these are NOT to,be give to anyone else.

    SAT Prep...my opinion...that should be done by someone who does SAT Prep...not a jack of all trades.

    Essay writing? Maybe. So,e kids do need some help tweaking their essays.

    Now...it's very possible your family would rather use a college consultant to help with essays and application completion...but that's your decision.

    Is it worth it monetarily? Maybe. Some college consitlants are terrific...can help with application choices, essay editing, and the like.

    In terms of scholarships....really...your kid is going tomget the same scholarships from a college whether they use a consultant...or not. It's stats based...based on GPA and SAT or ACT scores.

    In terms of need based financial aid...this is based on your income and assets...and again...a consultant isn't going to make a difference in your eligibility for need based aid.

    How much did your colleague pay for this service? Why does she swear it made a difference! What did her kid get that she thinks the kid would NOT have gotten anyway?
  • PositivelyMePositivelyMe Registered User Posts: 17 New Member
    Thanks Thumper 1! The service is $700. You're absolutely right! It makes sense to fill out the FREE FAFSA ourselves. The one good thing the colleague learned (and told my husband) was to apply to more than one college for financial aid leverage when negotiating aid at the college of choice. My child plans to apply to only one college.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 62,542 Senior Member
    edited August 31
    Is your daughter applying to ONE college that is affordable for you...and where she has a very high chance of acceptance?

    If not...that could be a very wasted application.

    It sounds like you have already gotten the one piece of advice you think is valuable...so why pay $700 additional.

    I will say...your colleague is only partially correct.

    1. Some colleges will review your need based aid awards from other colleges but these have to be PEER schools.

    2. Most colleges will NOT consider merit awards from other schools when a review is requested. Every college has THEIR own criteria for awarding merit...and really, school A is not likely to consider school B because their criteria for awarding merit aid is different.

    3. Some colleges won't discuss reviewing a financial aid award...at....al...ever. They just don't do this.

    Is your kiddo's ONE school a rolling admissions school or early action school? Is there a VERY high probability she will be accepted? Is the school affordable for your family?

    What will,she do if she does NOT get accepted to this one school?

    Is she still considering University of the Arts in Philly? If so...it's very very unlikely that this school will change their financial aid award based on any other awards your daughter receives. These arts schools have precious little merit aid to give out as it is.
  • InigoMontoyaInigoMontoya Registered User Posts: 1,491 Senior Member
    It makes sense to apply to more than one school so you have more than one option (academically and financially) to choose from. As said above, this isn't like buying a car where you can play one dealership off against another - sometimes schools will reconsider an award, but typically NOT because of what another school offers. If she only applies to one, and it isn't affordable - what is Plan B?
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 13,285 Senior Member
    My kids each applied to only one college. The financial aid picture was pretty clear and they weren't going to be comparing aid offers as neither school offered them need based aid. The merit aid was fixed also, based on gpa and scores. They also accepted that if anything went wrong (admission withdrawn, finances didn't work out) a gap year would be required, and both were okay with that.

    I'd keep the $700 and spend some time here on CC. An SAT prep class might be helpful, but if your child is planning on one school, does the child already know she/he will be admitted with the current scores? Is an essay even required?
  • 3scoutsmom3scoutsmom Registered User Posts: 4,211 Senior Member
    I agree with @twoinanddone the best money we spent was on SAT/PSAT prep.
  • billcshobillcsho Registered User Posts: 16,091 Senior Member
    Go to a public library and you will find all information you want or need for free. My D basically do test prep with books checked out from library. Your kid's school probably has some info session too.I atteneded a couple of those free seminar sessions by such consultants. I found little infomation that I have not learned from the book I read already. In many case, I found I know even more than them. Note that you not only need to pay them, you still need the fime to attend and digest the information.
  • PositivelyMePositivelyMe Registered User Posts: 17 New Member
    Thanks Twoinanddone! You hit a nerve. lol
    He really is only interested in the one school so I guess it would be to his benefit to not worry about others and fervently concentrate on his essay and portfolio. We've been to other open houses but he always comes back to the one (and... I totally understand why).
  • PositivelyMePositivelyMe Registered User Posts: 17 New Member
    We're waiting for the SAT scores. He should fall within the range. The college has a rolling admission. GPA is important but I believe passion, talent, the essay, and portfolio/audition are heavily weighted.

    THANKS EVERYONE!!!!!
  • gearmomgearmom Registered User Posts: 1,501 Senior Member
    @PositivelyMe Is the one school a safety?
  • PositivelyMePositivelyMe Registered User Posts: 17 New Member
    Oh, lastly, Naviance has a boatload of scholarships options!
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 62,542 Senior Member
    When are auditions?? Acting? Music? Dance?

    In auditioned programs...NO school is a true safety because your kid's audition is compared to the strength of others who are also taking the audition.

    My kid had to be accepted into some schools before he could schedule an audition. In one case, he was honestly in the range for accepted students at the university...but there was only ONE instrumental spot on his instrument...so he didn't get accepted to the music program there.



  • PositivelyMePositivelyMe Registered User Posts: 17 New Member
    Aye, Aye Thumper1!
    I totally understand. It's concerning. We'll know better how to proceed once his SAT scores come in next week or so.
    For his program of choice (music business), I learned that there isn't an audition, just the portfolio, and essay. He will be visiting a couple of other colleges but he specifically wants a performing arts type school in an urban setting. Competition can be fierce so we told him to apply soon. It's comforting to hear of others with children who choose to major in music. There's no convincing my child otherwise. We were a little worried but heck, we have a relative who majored in acting and he's been working since graduation.
  • Madison85Madison85 Registered User Posts: 10,251 Senior Member
    How much does that school cost and how much can you afford to pay each year for four years and are there younger siblings?
  • classicalsaxmomclassicalsaxmom Registered User Posts: 242 Junior Member
    @PositivelyMe there is a whole forum of music majors and their parents right here at CC, if you're interested - http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/music-major/

    We found that forum extremely helpful since the music school admissions process is so different. My S is a freshman at a conservatory now.

    Though I am not as familiar with typical awards to music business majors, talent-based merit scholarships at music schools are very common, though they vary in amount depending on the school, the instrument, and how desired the applicant is to the school. At some top conservatories with high sticker prices it's very hard to get in, but almost everyone admitted gets large talent-based merit scholarships, at other music schools only the top one or two candidates per instrument or program get merit. Even if your son is admitted early via rolling admissions he may need to wait for his financial award until after all applications are in and auditions/portfolios are reviewed (this depends on the school). My son got large music merit awards at every private school he applied to and smaller ones at the public options that had less $ to give but those schools were much less expensive to start with.

    You certainly do not need a consultant to get talent based merit, and unless the consultant specializes in music school admissions, which are totally different from general college admissions, I would doubt hiring that consultant is worth it since so much rides on the audition (or portfolio in this case). The essay may be important, but you would want someone familiar with what music business programs are looking for and that may be hard to find in the world of college consultants. We found that our S's guidance counselor and others who were generally very knowledgeable about college admissions really had NO clue how music school admissions work and that's why the Music Major forum was so helpful.

    SAT/ACT scores at most music schools are often among the less important factors in admissions as long as the student is in the general range for the school, though it varies by school, and at those that offer academic merit for stats they still can be important. Not all schools will stack talent-based and academic merit, though, and unless the merit award(s) are big enough to bring the cost of attendance below your EFC you will still be expected to pay your EFC.

    Have you run the Net Price Calculator at your son's top school to see if it looks affordable? Very few of those calculators include talent-based merit awards and some NPCs at performing arts schools are very basic and thus not very accurate, but it is still helpful to know what the school thinks you can afford (which is often higher than families can actually afford). If it's too much, then make sure your son understands that the net price has to come in at a certain $ with merit in order to be affordable, and you can try to find out the typical merit range at that school to see if it might be a realistic option. Not very many performing arts schools meet the financial need of all students.

    Applying to just one music school sounds very risky to me, especially if there is ANY doubt about affordability or if he will not find out about merit awards until much later (call the school to ask about that). A music school that my son applied EA to was the very LAST one to award merit the second week in April, even though he was admitted to both the school and music school back in December. By that point he had already chosen a different school.

    Good luck!
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