Attention Seniors: From Myra Ross

Hello seniors,

There are some song birds out there, although there will again be no peaches this year due to the too warm and then too cold weather. Spring is coming, and you know what that means! Yes, the bulk of the college decisions will arrive in the next few weeks.

UMass decisions do not arrive in any particular order. Don’t worry if you have not heard from them on your portal yet. Wait until April 1 before contacting them regarding a missing decision. They have a lot to send out.

You will find in examining your financial aid awards, that they are like apples, oranges, pears and grapes. Read and compare them very carefully. Don’t fall into the trap of saying “They gave me $29,000, or even worse, they gave me $80,000 – over four years).” How much of that is grant and how much is loan? Much more importantly, what do you have to pay next year? What do you need to do to continue the award in the future? How will the award change in the years to come?

You are invited to a MEFA help session “Paying the College Bill,” about comparing award letters and making decisions on Thursday, April 6 at 7:00 in the cafeteria. Bring your award letters. You can get individual attention from professional financial aid folks after the presentation. We have offered this several times now. It has been quite helpful. Put it on your calendars!

If you find that admissions decisions are not going your way and that you need help figuring out what to do, please come to see me right away.

If you are going to a community college, take your Accuplacer placement exam ASAP so you can register early. Procrastination will mean that you may be closed out of some of the classes you want to take. HCC Open House and registration is Saturday, April8. GCC will begin registration on April 18 for students who have taken the Accuplacer. Call (413) 775-1801 for an appointment. They will have their Open House for undecided students on Wednesday, April 19.

Please remember to put all of your admissions decisions into Naviance, including your final choice when you make it. We, and your teachers who wrote letters for you, would like to hear personally about those decisions as well.

If you are selected for financial aid “verification” or if you are told you need to complete IDOC, you must comply. Read the instructions carefully to see what the school that is requesting the information wants you to send, and how. This is not optional. Colleges will not award financial aid without your cooperation.

If you find that financial aid offers are not what you had hoped, come to see me about the best way to go about appealing.

Remember, our scholarship application deadline is Monday, April 3 at 3:30. Have you read through the brochure yet? Have you started the online application? If you are not independently wealthy, sit down at your computer and write applications for the scholarship awards! Read the instructions and submit electronically. Remember, the application and brochure were e-mailed to you on February 27. Use the links to open the documents or go to the arhs.arps website without the www! You can also find the application and booklet in the Naviance document library.

While you are thinking scholarship, look in Naviance under scholarships. Mrs. Cappelli has been inputting them as they arrive.

The Community Foundation of Western MA is a wonderful agency that provides a lot of financial help both in scholarships and zero-interest loans. Apply!! they decide what you are eligible for. They require an online application, the student aid report resulting from your FAFSA and an official transcript. Please apply at communityfoundation.org soon so there is time to get everything in by their March 31 deadline. Apply each year for that matter– they also have scholarships that are only available to college upper-classmen.

It’s a very good idea to visit the colleges you are considering. If you cannot make it to the special events they plan for accepted students, go on a regular school day. Go to classes; talk to students…

Myra Ross

College Advisor

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