Thursday, August 7, 2014

Scholarships & Grants Make College More Affordable

There are two ways to help your college bound student to make a college price tag more affordable. The first is one that students control over the course of their K-12 schooling -- grades.

Merit Based Aid
Colleges look at a students' high school grade point average in combination with their SAT or ACT scores to help make a determination about scholarships. We also look at recommendations and extra curricular activities but the primary determinant is the high school grade point average.

Most colleges will convert the high school grades to a 4.0 scale. An 85 high school average is a 3.0 and a 90 average is a 3.5 and up to 4.0 for a 100 average.

At St. Thomas Aquinas College we utilize the Net Price Calculator to help families estimate their costs for college. The 2014-15 tuition at St. Thomas is $27,130, lower than nearly all of the private colleges in the region and St. Thomas is ranked in the Top Tier among Liberal Arts Universities in the Northeastern United States -- quality at an affordable price.

A student who has a well rounded admissions application (available through the Common Application) and a 3.5 high school GPA with a 1000 on the Critical Reading and Mathematics portion of the SAT, will garner a $14,000 academic scholarship, bringing the tuition cost down to $13,130. Once the student accepts a student loan of $5,500 as a freshmen, the family cost comes down to about $7,630.

For students who want to live on campus, add $11,680 to that cost and it will be about $19,310 for the year. This is relatively close to the cost of a state university with all the benefits of a private college grounded in a strong tradition of its founders, the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill.

The STAC Honors Program
A student who is above a 3.6 and a 1200 combined on the Critical Reading and Mathematics portion of the SAT (27 ACT) may be eligible for the St. Thomas Aquinas College full tuition Honors Program. This program may close for new freshmen applicants for Fall 2015 as early as mid February, so Fall 2015 applicants should plan ahead when applying to colleges. The $20,000 scholarship includes a Summer Study at Oxford University in England -- tuition, fees, room and board are paid by the college and students just pay for transportation to and from England and any other weekend excursions they may choose to go on during their stay. There is specialized coursework during the student's four years at St. Thomas and they may choose from among any of our 100 majors, minors and specializations. This program is only available to new freshmen upon initial application to the college. If tuition rises while the student is enrolled, the scholarship increases as well to maintain a 70% discount.

The STAC Aquinas Leaders Program
A student who is above a 3.4 and a 1130 combined on the Critical Reading and Mathematics portion of the SAT (25 ACT) may be eligible for the St. Thomas Aquinas College Aquinas Leaders Program. This program offers students an opportunity to gain structured leadership experience in their freshmen, sophomore, junior and senior years both on campus and off. There are specialized courses and seminars just for Aquinas Leaders and the scholarship provided to selected students will be approximately 60% of their tuition costs over four years. The student must maintain the requirements of the program and the scholarship is annually renewable for four years. In 2014-15, the scholarship is $17,000. Students are selected and invited into the program based on their overall application and submission of a special essay upon request. This program is only available to new freshmen entering in Fall 2014 and beyond and pre selection is done based on the student's overall application -- GPA and SAT are pre qualifiers but not a guarantee for selection. Prior leadership and community service also weigh into the decision to invite a student to apply to the program.

In this program, students gain practical experience at the undergraduate level that enables them to develop leadership skills and learn from faculty and college administrators on campus outside of the classroom experience. Students are required to log a set number of hours per semester and these leadership development hours will be successful steps toward internships and career development.

More Scholarship Aid
As a student's high school GPA goes down the scale from 3.4 and on down to the 3.0 range, scholarships diminish, but don't go away. Another institution may offer more in scholarship aid, but their initial costs may be substantially higher. Parents and students should calculate the bottom line costs and not necessarily the scholarship amount.

Need Based Aid
The second method for reducing your overall costs is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to determine if you are eligible for any federal aid programs -- and a must for all students who are receiving any college aid as well. There are different forms of federal aid, the most coming from the PELL grant which can provide students with up to $5,550 per year in aid you don't pay back.

For state residents, you need to complete the appropriate state application for aid if you are going to attend college within your state of residence. In New York, students complete the NYS Tuition Assistance Program application which can provide students up to $5,000 per year in aid that you don't pay back.

For students who are strong academic students and high financial need students, St. Thomas Aquinas College also provides additional college grants to help this type of student make college even more affordable.

For more information, contact the Admissions Office at St. Thomas Aquinas College via email at Admissions@stac.edu or by phone at 845-398-4100. You may always contact me through this Blog with additional questions.

Looking forward to seeing you on campus…


Visit Campus
Plan on visiting during Open Houses but also plan a follow up visit if you like what you see at Open House. At St. Thomas Aquinas College we plan several events to help students hone in on the reality of what we offer -- a small college environment with large potential for our students. We offer nearly 100 different majors, minors, specializations and dual degree programs at the undergraduate level but we do it in a small college environment with small to mid size classes.

When you plan your college visits, put the St. Thomas Aquinas College Open House on your calendar. Join us Sunday, October 19th or Saturday, November 15th at 11am. 

You can reserve your place for our open house by visiting our reservation page. You can like us on Facebook and see what our students and alumni say about us or you can simply pick up the phone and call and speak with one of us about your future.

Looking forward to seeing you on campus….

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Calculating College Costs: Made Simple with a Net Price Calculator

Calculating college costs is a whole lot easier for students, parents, teachers, and guidance counselors as the federal government enacted legislation that mandated all colleges and universities that receive federal funding to add a Net Price Calculator to their web page.


The NPC enables students to input their academic background (HS GPA, SAT, ACT scores) and the college has the ability to match that with an academic scholarship and when you compete the process you will see if you qualify for any academic or merit based aid -- these are items you don't pay back!


In addition, the NPC provides parents with an opportunity to plug in some basic financial figures and then calculates whether or not the family will receive any federal or state grants -- these are items you don't pay back!



On the St. Thomas Aquinas College NPC, we also inform students about college need based grants -- and these are items you don't pay back!


For families, this is a great tool that enables you to get a pretty accurate sense of the bottom line cost for each college or university your son or daughter is interested in.


We also estimated educational related expenses for things like transportation and housing off campus and personal expenses. At St. Thomas, we list our 2014-15 tuition and fees as $27,630 -- among the lowest private colleges in the New York area. 


We also add on expenses for transportation, off campus housing for a commuting student, and personal expenses. Make sure the colleges you are researching list the related expenses accurately. Some of our competitors list transportation costs as $100 for the year for a commuter. We could do that, but we chose to be more accurate and list those expenses as $1,500.


The NPC also estimates your scholarships and grants and provides you with an estimated Net Price -- once that will give you reasons to look at a college more seriously or avoid it as it will be too expensive. 

Keep in mind that a college education is more than an expense. It is an investment in the future of the young person in your family. One that will pay lasting dividends. Some studies indicate that college graduates will earn about $1 million more than an individual who is not a college graduate. 


Starting out in life is difficult. Choosing the right college that fits the whole family should be a goal when searching for colleges. You can find out if St. Thomas is the right fit for you by visiting campus for a tour and info session.


Looking forward to seeing you on campus.

You can reserve for the St. Thomas Aquinas College Open House on Sunday, October 19 or Saturday, November 15th, both at 11 am, by visiting our reservation page.



Monday, August 4, 2014

Transferring: Smart Start, Smart Finish

College students who start at a community college have a lot to balance during their two years at a community college -- living in the present while preparing for the transfer process to a four year college.


Two year programs provide students with the ability to explore their options while fulfilling many basic core requirements of the four year college they will transfer to once they finish a the two year college.


My advice: major in liberal arts while at the community college. This will enable you to transfer to most any college and major in a program you decide on between now and then -- don't lock into a specific major while at the community college as it can limit your options when transferring to a four year college.


A student who majors in business, for example, at a two year college but then decides to major in education at a four year college will find that not all courses they took will fit in to the new curriculum at the four year college.


The student who majors in liberal arts and sciences at the community college will find it much easier to choose to be a business, accounting, psychology, forensic science, criminal justice or teacher education major when they choose the four year college they are going to transfer into upon completion.


College is about career exploration. Finding out what interests you enough to want to work 40, 50, 60 hours per week at once you graduate from college. Boxing yourself in at 18 years old is not the best way to explore what you find interesting --even if you think you are sure now, use the two years do some exploring or you may find that you made the wrong choice but don't want to admit it. That is a perfect formula for unhappiness!


Start out as a liberal arts and sciences major and take courses in areas that you think you might enjoy. As you move along toward your two year degree you will continue to explore, perhaps taking more than one elective in an area you want to major in and narrowing your choices by eliminating those majors that you thought might be for you but turned out to be ones you didn't enjoy so much.


This process can be done over the two years and help you confidently step up to the next level -- obtaining your four year degree in an area you enjoy.


You should also visit four year colleges you think you might like to transfer to and show them what you are taking at the two year college. This will enable you to put those colleges to work for you by putting together a curriculum plan for once you decide to enroll at that college.


Use the two years wisely. If you have a very strong GPA at the community college you would qualify for a very good academic scholarship -- another good reason to focus on the present while preparing for the future.


At St. Thomas Aquinas College we offer transfer scholarships as well as Phi Theta Kappa Scholarships for community college honor society students -- all adding up to substantial savings for you.

Visit Campus
Plan on visiting during Open Houses but also plan a follow up visit if you like what you see at Open House. At St. Thomas Aquinas College we plan several events to help students hone in on the reality of what we offer -- a small college environment with large potential for our students. We offer nearly 100 different majors, minors, specializations and dual degree programs at the undergraduate level but we do it in a small college environment with small to mid size classes.


When you plan your college visits, put the St. Thomas Aquinas College Open House on your calendar. Join us Sunday, October 19 or Saturday, November 15th at 11am. 


You can reserve your place for our open house by visiting our reservation page. You can like us on Facebook and see what our students and alumni say about us or you can simply pick up the phone and call and speak with one of us about your future.


Looking forward to seeing you on campus….

Sunday, August 3, 2014

College Visits Help Narrow Your Focus

Finding the right college is a daunting task that is complicated by the reality that teens and parents have two different goals in mind when trying to decide what college is right -- the first issue is right for who: the family or the student?

Parents and students should make a pact. Set up a folder for each college and the research that your son or daughter does goes in the folder --- but so does your research.

This will prove valuable later on in the winter/spring of their senior year when decisions about which college is still on the table have to be made.

Visiting colleges is an important part of the selection process. Plan to visit a region and plan to visit more than one college in that region, even if the other college is not on your list. Visiting two different places can help you decide which format is right for your student -- large versus small, urban versus suburban.

Students often make assumptions about what they want based on the media. They see a movie about college and decide that is what the college will be like that they have researched. Colleges are at fault too for using so many different media to portray an image about their institution that is very hard to live up to once you arrive on campus -- try to close the gap between perception and reality by visiting campuses.

Most of all, enjoy the process. If a college doesn't turn out to be what you or your child expected once you visit consider it a good visit and learn from it. For every college you visit your selection skills will be honed and you will be ready when the right one comes along.

Open Houses
Plan on visiting during Open Houses but also plan a follow up visit if you like what you see at Open House. At St. Thomas Aquinas College we plan several events to help students hone in on the reality of what we offer -- a small college environment with large potential for our students. We offer nearly 100 different majors, minors, specializations and dual degree programs at the undergraduate level but we do it in a small college environment with small to mid size classes.

When you plan your college visits, put the St. Thomas Aquinas College Open House on your calendar. Join us Sunday, October 19 or Saturday, November 15, at 11am. 

You can reserve your place for our open house by visiting our reservation page. You can like us on Facebook and see what our students and alumni say about us or you can simply pick up the phone and call and speak with one of us about your future.

Once students apply to colleges and get acceptances you should start to narrow your choices and looking in that folder for your research will be an important part of the process. Financial aid awards will play into the process as well. Your research becomes the basis for your decisions -- and the impact that those visits made will be a big part of the decision as well.

Start early in the junior year for visiting and keep going into senior year -- but it is never too late to start. Deciding which major appliance or vehicle to purchase is a big decision and one we don't make lightly -- come to campus and kick our tires too!

Looking forward to seeing you on campus….

Saturday, August 2, 2014

College Commuting Or Living On Campus: Both Can Be The Right Fit For Students

In today's new world of economic challenges, students and their families need to work harder to be on the same page when choosing a college or university for the next four years.

Affordability needs to be measured in the total four year costs and its impact on the family's ability to continue providing a framework for success for the student while maintaining long term financial goals for the family. This is a major decision that affects the entire family.


Spend All Day On Campus
Students and families need to consider the value of a student's education and whether or not the additional costs of items such as room and board are a necessary part of the educational process.

At St. Thomas Aquinas College, for example, we are committed to finding the right financial aid package for a student and sometimes that means a part of the plan is for the student to commute to college from home rather than reside on a campus that is just 15-30 minutes from the home. There are a multitude of benefits for students who live on campus, but the experience can be very similar for a student who commutes to campus.

Residence Life
St. Thomas is "home" to 2,700 students, and over 650 live on the campus 24 hours a day. This doesn't diminish the experience for those that commute from other locations. The value in the education is in the classroom and extra and co-curricular experiences -- all of which are available to all students regardless of their on campus or off campus address.

Many students find that the transition from high school to freshmen year is a difficult one, perhaps made easier with fewer distractions while some students are ready for the transition to living in a housing complex with other students and adapting to new study and living habits -- some need to make the hard choice necessary in a difficult economy to commute to campus to earn their degree and reduce their housing costs by living at home.

The on campus experience is a fulfilling one, with an abundance of activities to choose from -- but students who live off campus are able to take full advantage of that experience as well without sleeping on campus.

Every student's goal should be to obtain a college degree and become successful in a chosen field. If affording college means commuting from home rather than taking on the expense of living on campus, then the goal can still be met while saving over $40,000 across four years.

Done In Three years & Save $41,000!
In addition, St. Thomas offers a three year program that enables students who have earned college credits while in high school to complete their four year program in three years -- a savings of either $30,000 or $41,000, depending on whether the student commutes to campus or lives on campus.

St. Thomas offers one of the lowest tuition rates among four year private colleges in the region. As a rolling admissions institution, students can continue to apply for the fall semester throughout the summer and receive full consideration for financial aid opportunities. There may be some programs that are full, such as the college's full tuition scholarship honors program -- which typically fills in March for the Fall semester.

For more information on St. Thomas Aquinas College, contact the Office of Admissions at 845-398-4100. To visit, plan on reserving for our Open House on Sunday, October 19 or Saturday, November 15th at 11 am.

Looking forward to seeing you on campus...

Friday, August 1, 2014

Growth In Teaching Careers On Horizon

Teaching Jobs Are Abundant
New Teachers Need To Be Willing To Move
parents and students may be worried about the prospect of teaching positions as they read media reports about the downsizing in many school districts. For high school seniors and college students today who want to become teachers, those concerns should not weigh heavy in the student's decision to become a teacher -- there continues to be and will continue to be jobs for good teachers!

There are a number of growth areas in the country that new teachers need to look at for prospective teaching positions. These jobs may not be within a few miles of "home" but the new generation of college graduates need to be mobile and willing to relocate to a new area of the country if that means starting your career right after college.

Here are some statistics on growth areas in the United States and with those statistics come potential jobs for new teachers.

Population Growth By Region
The Raleigh-Durham and Cary, North Carolina areas have experienced a 40% population growth in a recent 10 year period (2000-09). In addition, Charlotte, North Carolina has experienced a 30% population growth in the same period.

Similar growth has occurred in Las Vegas, Nevada (36%). In Texas, Austin growth has been 35% while Houston comes in at 24% and the Dallas-Fort Worth area has grown 24%.

Phoenix, Arizona has grown 33% in the same time period while Atlanta, Georgia has grown 28% and Orlando, Florida has grown 26%. On the west coast, San Bernadino, California has grown 26%.

Not every population growth area translates into more teaching positions, but they do translate into more jobs. As the population grows in a region there is a demand for more services. The new generation of college graduates needs to think beyond their traditional borders and understand that opportunities are always available -- they just might not be available exactly where we want them to be. 

National Accreditation For Teacher Education Programs
At St. Thomas Aquinas College, The School of Education offers students an abundance of options to become a teacher in a program that is accredited by the National Council on Accreditation of Teacher Education Programs (NCATE).

The School of Education offers certification in Childhood Education with Middle Level Extension (grades 1-9), Childhood and Special Education with Middle Level Extension (grades 1-9), Art Education (grades K-12) and Adolescence Education with Middle Level Extension (grades 5-12).

These programs with their extensions make college graduates seeking teaching positions more marketable when they begin their careers. A 6th grade teacher who is not able to teach any other grades in the middle school they are seeking a job in is not as appealing to a hiring committee as a 6th grade teacher capable of teaching grades 5, 7, 8 and 9 -- depending on the schools grade levels.

Parents and students should choose a program that is nationally respected by accreditation with rigid requirements -- and the NCATE, or CAPE, accreditation is one that is nationally respected. This will help the new graduate as they interview around the country for teaching positions.

The College also offers five year programs which enable students to earn their bachelor of science in education and their master of science in education all in five years.

Graduate Programs Online and On Campus
The School of Education offers a Masters in Special Education or Literacy for teachers as well as a program in Educational Leadership -- both online and on campus.

Open Houses
Plan on visiting during Open Houses but also plan a follow up visit if you like what you see at Open House. At St. Thomas Aquinas College we plan several events to help students hone in on the reality of what we offer -- a small college environment with large potential for our students. We offer nearly 100 different majors, minors, specializations and dual degree programs at the undergraduate level but we do it in a small college environment with small to mid size classes.

When you plan your college visits, put the St. Thomas Aquinas College Open House on your calendar. Join us Sunday, October 19 or Saturday, November 15, at 11am. 

You can reserve your place for our open house by visiting our reservation page. You can like us on Facebook and see what our students and alumni say about us or you can simply pick up the phone and call and speak with one of us about your future.

Once students apply to colleges and get acceptances you should start to narrow your choices and looking in that folder for your research will be an important part of the process. Financial aid awards will play into the process as well. Your research becomes the basis for your decisions -- and the impact that those visits made will be a big part of the decision as well.

Start early in the junior year for visiting and keep going into senior year -- but it is never too late to start. Deciding which major appliance or vehicle to purchase is a big decision and one we don't make lightly -- come to campus and kick our tires too!

Looking forward to seeing you on campus….


Thursday, July 31, 2014

St. Thomas Aquinas College Complements VA Yellow Ribbon Program

St. Thomas Aquinas College has honored our service men and women with favorable scholarships and aid programs since its founding in 1952. Today, St. Thomas and the Veteran's Affairs Yellow Ribbon Program are closely married to the benefit of the veteran who wants to return to college after serving our country -- and St. Thomas Aquinas College will work with the student and the VA to ensure that student costs are "0", "zero" or as close to it as possible.

The current Yellow Ribbon program benefit calls for a maximum benefit in New York State that is higher than the St. Thomas Aquinas College tuition costs. For those of you following along with the VA Yellow Ribbon program, they have changed their benefit scale once or twice since announcing the program a few years ago.

There is also a rule that provides for a maximum benefit of $18,055 for the year, which is lower than the St. Thomas tuition costs. If that rule applies, St. Thomas Aquinas College will provide the student with a grant that is half of the difference between the maximum benefit and the total tuition costs and the VA will match that grant with one of their own...
...making it free for the qualified veteran to attend St. Thomas Aquinas College.

In addition, the VA provides for $1,000 per year in fees. St. Thomas's fees are fixed at $500, but there are some nominal course fees of $15, 25, or $75, making it virtually impossible for the student to have fees as high as $1,000 per year...
...making it free for the qualified veteran to attend St. Thomas Aquinas College.

Lastly, the VA provides veterans with a monthly housing allowance that is far more than the room and board costs at St. Thomas Aquinas College, currently $11,630 per year...
...making it free for the qualified veteran to live at St. Thomas Aquinas College.

To find out more about the College's programs and set up a visit to see if St. Thomas Aquinas College is the right fit for you, simply call the Admissions Office at 845-398-4100. For more information on the Yellow Ribbon Program benefit, visit the Veteran's Affairs Yellow Ribbon Program web site.

Looking forward to seeing you on campus.


Visit Campus
Plan on visiting during Open Houses but also plan a follow up visit if you like what you see at Open House. At St. Thomas Aquinas College we plan several events to help students hone in on the reality of what we offer -- a small college environment with large potential for our students. We offer nearly 100 different majors, minors, specializations and dual degree programs at the undergraduate level but we do it in a small college environment with small to mid size classes.

When you plan your college visits, put the St. Thomas Aquinas College Open House on your calendar. Join us Sunday, October 19 or Saturday, November 15th at 11am. 

You can reserve your place for our open house by visiting our reservation page. You can like us on Facebook and see what our students and alumni say about us or you can simply pick up the phone and call and speak with one of us about your future.

Looking forward to seeing you on campus….