One of my kids got extra time for a slow processing disability. It was quite difficult to get -- according to the high school's GC, no other at that student had ever gotten extra time. IT required boatloads of testing data and also years of doing IEPs at the school. A doctors note by itself would get laughed at.
But if a family wants to invest thousands of dollars on testing and create years of track record and paper trail with the middle and high school on the disability, sure you might be able to game the system. More frequent, though, are kids with a real disabilities whose families don't have the resources to create the record. So the kids don't get the extra test time, even though they qualify.
My kid is now at a competitive college. They can't give you extra time for reading, preparing and studying. Regardless of their strengths and weaknesses, all the students get the same 168 hours per week. My kid works like a dog to keep up.
All of mine turned out to be better ACT-ers than SAT-ers.
We basically used practice tests or real tests during JR year to decide which was the preferred test. Prepped for the preferred test over the summer between JR/SR year. Took the preferred test at the very beginning of SR year. All three got much better scores, which lead to much better merit awards. We got tremendous ROI on the $$$ spent on test prep.
To sum it all up, the whole process is trying to solve an equation with three variables:
1. Fit. What kind of school does your kid want to go to? A spreadsheet with the stuff discussed in #21 above is a good starting point.
2. Admissibility. What schools can your kid realistically get into given their test scores and stats? Once you have that data, you can layer this factor onto your fit spreadsheet. Doing the usual safe/match/reach exercise.
3. Finances. What is your realistic annual budget for this kid? $10k a year? $30k a year? $70k a year? Once you know your budget, then you'll know how much need aid or merit aid you will need to get to make it work. The amount of aid you will get is driven by the combination of (i) your income/assets and (ii) your kid's academic stats. NPCs are the ticket here. You care about actual/net price for you and your kid. Sticker price may or may not be relevant.
If your kid has high stats, the kid may be able to gain entry into a fancy school that meets full need. So you can get big need bucks if your finances are such that you qualify for aid. If your kid has 75th percentile stats at a particular private school (that is outside the very top tier), then you're likely to score big merit bucks (independent of your financial situation).
End of the day, your kid will never attend a school they hate. They will never attend a school they can't get admitted to. And they will never attend a school you can't pay for. You need all three circles of the Venn diagram to overlap.
Put everything about this process on spreadsheets and documents share-able on the cloud. We used google docs. Very helpful to have the kid and parents able to update, share and access the most current stuff. It is unwise to expect the kid to be fully in charge of this process. Works better to have the kid be CEO, but the parents to serve as COO/CAO of the process.
"Wonder why they so quickly backtracked on their "sincerely held religious beliefs""
As many (including me) noted above, ND's beef was about the principle of free exercise/separation of church and state. As a practical matter and as ND knows, the contraception ship for U.S. Catholics sailed decades ago. But the widely ignored rule is still on the books. So it provides a convenient and mostly hypothetical situation to argue about the underlying principle.
ND sued over having to file the work-around waiver paperwork that facilitated the third party coverage paid by the government. Actual churches were always free of the waiver requirement, but church affiliated hospitals and schools were subject to the waiver requirement. ND was arguing that the filing made them complicit in the coverage. That was a pretty thin argument and the federal courts so far had not been buying ND's claim.
Seems like (in some murky way) the coverage can now be provided without a waiver. So as long as ND can say and do nothing, it is fine with the coverage happening. Looks like they did some unnecessary ready/fire/aim under the new Trump administration policy. Since somehow now they can still be uninvolved.
Pretty theoretical stuff -- just the kind of thing lawyers and theologians love to argue about.
There does seem to be a lot of randomness in how the pols are zinging various constituencies to find enough "pay fors" so that the tax plan can get through the Senate with only 51 votes vs. 60.
Also plenty of monkey business being used to hit that number. Some tax breaks are written as being only temporary for a few years (even though it would be highly unlikely that the breaks would not get extended in the future). Other tax breaks are "permanent" but are being phased in over time to make the measured cost smaller.
I wouldn't be surprised if some of those "pay-fors" would later be reversed or eased after the 51 vote/reconciliation needle has been threaded. Very odd exercise.