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Full Scholarship List

Over 1200 major scholarships offered by colleges around the U.S. including full-ride and full-tuition scholarships!

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New & Improved College Search Spreadsheet!

Download my free college search spreadsheet! You will use it all the way through the college choice process.

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How to Find College Talent Scholarships

If your student is interested in pursuing a talent like music, art, theater, dance or writing in college you may want to search for applicable college talent scholarships that will give your student “free money” to pursue his or her passion.  If your student has a few particular colleges in mind, then it is as easy as going to the colleges’ websites to see what they offer for talent scholarships.  However, if you want to “shop the field” to see what’s out there, it can be a challenge to find talent scholarships.

Similar to academic merit scholarships, the majority of college talent scholarships are going to come from the colleges themselves.

There are private talent scholarships out there, but they are few and far between, reserved for the top talented students.  I’ve included some resources for these below.

Colleges themselves offer a wide variety of talent scholarships to students who want to pursue their talents in college.  The majority of these scholarships are available for students who want to major in art, theater, dance, music or writing.  However, many colleges also offer talent scholarships for students who don’t wish to major in their talent, but do want to stay involved in it while in college.  This could involve clubs or other organizations on campus or participating in campus productions, contributing to campus publications, marching band, and more.

I have researched colleges around the country and have found over 800 talent scholarships offered directly by the colleges, ranging from hundreds of dollars up to full tuition.

The majority of the talent scholarships offered by colleges are thousands of dollars per year.  These will be listed out on a brand new product I am releasing soon.  Sign up for my Weekly Newsletter to be notified when the new list is available.

As I mentioned earlier, there are also private talent scholarships that are open to talented students who will be attending any college.  It is difficult to find talent scholarships on the major scholarship sites.  It can take forever to search for them.  If you want to try this route, I suggest Niche (search by interest) or  I have listed some good resources for finding private talent scholarships below.

Resources for Private Talent Scholarships

Scholastic Art & Writing Scholarships

Davidson Fellows Scholarships (music)

Young Arts Program

National Federation of Music Clubs

Educational Theatre Association

Glenn Miller Scholarships

1200 Major Merit Scholarships

money-bag-400301_640For those of us who don’t expect to qualify for need-based aid from colleges and whose college-bound kids are near the top of the class, large merit scholarships are the “holy grail.”  However, it can be difficult to find all the opportunities that are out there.

I recently completed a MAJOR update to my Full Scholarship List, taking it from around 450 major merit scholarships to over 1200 major merit scholarships.

For those of you who have already purchased the Full Scholarship List, please bear with me.  I am just excited to tell others about what the updated list offers.

What the New & Improved Full Scholarship List Provides:

  • Talent Scholarships – I have added Talent scholarships to the list.  Talent scholarships are usually lower dollar amounts, but I found 29 talent scholarships that range up to Full Tuition.  These are for Art, Music and Theatre.
  • Scholarships for National Merit and/or National Achievement Finalists/Semi-Finalists – There are 117 scholarships specifically given to semi-finalists and finalists in these competitions that indicate they will cover up to Full Tuition or even a Full Ride (including room & board).
  • Automatic Scholarships – There are 175 automatic scholarships that indicate they range to Full Tuition or Full Ride.  By automatic, I mean that your student doesn’t need to compete for these.  If he or she applies for admission at the college and meets the merit scholarship qualifications, the scholarship is automatically granted.
  • Competitive Scholarships – 899 scholarships on the list are competitive.  This doesn’t necessary mean your student has to go through a formal competition.  Many of these merit scholarships just involve a review of all eligible students and selection of specific students for the scholarship.  Of these 899 competitive scholarships, 756 are offered in an amount guaranteed to equal full tuition or more.
  • Scholarships for International Students – 53 scholarships are offered to international students, either exclusively, or in addition to U.S. citizens.  All of these are offered at a range up to full tuition or more.
  • Compare the Scholarship Amount to the Tuition Cost – The Full Scholarship List includes the current listed tuition rate for each school so you can see just how big each scholarship is.
  • Assess Your Student’s Chances for Competitive Merit Scholarships – I have included each school’s mid-50% ACT and SAT scores.  You can use these to compare against your student’s scores.  If your student’s ACT or SAT score is above the mid-50% range, his or her chances of winning a competitive merit scholarship are greater.
  • How Competitive is the School?  There will be many schools that you aren’t very familiar with.  The Full Scholarship List includes the percentage of applicants who are offered admission so you can assess the competitiveness of the school.

If you are interested in finding full tuition and full ride scholarships for your student, the Full Scholarship List offers the most extensive and most up-to-date listing of these available.  You can sort and filter to find the scholarships that apply to your student.  Click here  to find out more details.



Taking the SAT one final time in hopes for a higher Math score?

This is a guest post from Jung S. Rhee of  He offers a unique perspective on studying for the current SAT Math test.

Standardized testing has an inherent weakness: among every administration of the test, each must be of the same scope, style, and difficulty. Otherwise, it becomes an unfair test, let alone the fact that it can no longer be considered a “standardized” test. The current version of the SAT (to become obsolete as of the afternoon of January 23, 2016) suffers immensely of this malady – and I call it such for many reasons heavily debated among U.S. educators. If your child is registered to take the final administration of the current SAT on the 23rd of this month, here’s how I suggest he/she spend the next few days to maximize the Math score.

Yes, practice helps, but on the current SAT, blind practice may waste time. It’s because to an ill-prepared student, every problem seems distinct. This, precisely, is the biggest challenge for current SAT test-takers; you can’t study some review packet and expect to ace the test. So while tons of practice is good, there’s something your child should be doing prior to that.

Take one of College Board’s SAT practice tests (available here and answers here, or use any one of the 10 tests available if you’ve purchased their Official SAT Study Guide). You won’t need to time yourself for the purposes of this suggestion. The College Board’s tests are the only tests you should be using when you’re trying to study the test (as opposed to the content). Other publishers offer great problem sets which are advantageous for specific types of practice, but none have an identical scope, style, and difficulty as that of the College Board’s exams. Unfortunately, the College Board doesn’t offer any explanations to their questions, so seek help from peers, teachers, and me – I’ll respond to every email as quickly as possible during this final week of prep. Get access to the solutions to as many of the test questions as you can. Master this set of questions, even to the point of committing these questions to memory. All future practice should be based on your mastery of at least one official practice test. But even if your child does not have the time for additional practice, I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of the questions that your child answers this Saturday seem oddly familiar. Of course, the more official tests a student “masters”, the more questions he or she will find familiar. “Hey! But that’s not really learning math!” you say? Well, the contents of this test are not exactly fair to begin with.

Over the course of the last 12 years this version of the test has existed (Mar 2004 – Jan 2016), I’ve had the chance to test every aspect of the validity of this examination. To me, an average of 49 out of 54 math questions on every administration of the test seem “familiar.” But understanding the fact that most students don’t have as much time to study the test as I did, I collaborated with a self-admitted poor math student to see how well she could ultimately perform on this test. She was definitely a hard worker, but math wasn’t her forte and her SAT math score wasn’t an accurate reflection of her true abilities. When we first began our prep work, she was able to correctly answer a little over half of the problems in each Math section. We chose 30 tests to master. She wasn’t able to comprehend many of the questions, but she memorized the questions and solutions anyway. I knew she was doing the work because she came to me with a list of specific questions to address each week, and whenever I began to explain a question from her list, she would stop me midway, turn to a specific test, find a similar problem, and ask, “Is this the same problem?” In the end, she still wasn’t able to tell me why her responses made any sense, but she received a score of 730 out of 800. That was back in 2007. Since, I’ve been teaching all of my students both the test and the content to ensure maximum scores.

I wish everyone the best as you take one of the most important tests you’ll ever take. For anyone looking for last minute help, we’re offering our current SAT course at 40% off with the promo code TOPSCORE40, and we’ll also include the New SAT course (currently in development) free of charge in case your child decides to give the new test a shot.

Is Your High School Senior Sick of High School?

For those of us with a high school senior, it’s the start of their last semester of high school.  They feel like they have seen it all and done it all and it’s now time to fly.  Most college-bound seniors have completed their college applications or will be wrapping them up this month.  Unless they applied early decision or early action and already received all of their responses, they are stuck in a waiting period.  It can seem like a long, boring, frustrating wait.  And they just want to select a school and be done!

What Should Your High School Senior Focus on During Second Semester?

  • Don’t let those grades slip!  You’ve probably heard it a million times – colleges care about second semester grades.  Your student could be in jeopardy of having his or her acceptance revoked if he or she bombs the last semester of high school.  Don’t let them stress out too much about it, but do make sure they keep working all the way to the end.
  • Scholarship Applications – Focus on local private scholarships and any special scholarships with separate applications that are offered by the colleges your student wants to attend.  Spring of senior year is when most of the scholarship deadlines arrive.  After college applications are complete, there is usually a second round of work focused on scholarship applications.  Your student will probably need a fair amount of encouragement and help with organization in order to get these all completed.  Check out my Scholarship Tracker to help your student stay on top of scholarship application requirements and deadlines.
  • College Visits – Almost immediately following the college acceptance notifications will come the invitations to Admitted Student visit days.  Make sure your student takes advantage of these to assist in making the final college selection.  These visits offer so much more than the visits for prospective applicants.  Now that your student has been selected, the school really wants to show him or her why their school is the right one to pick.

Above all, sympathize with the fact that your student is excited to leave high school and move on to the next chapter.  Enjoy the time you have with him or her at home and help make sure your high school senior makes the most of the last semester of high school.

College Fit – Sometimes You Just Know

At this point during senior year of high school, college-bound kids and their parents are focused on college fit.  A lot of kids ask, “How will I know what college is right for me?”  A lot of parents stress out when their students are still looking at several colleges without seeming to have an idea of what they want.  In my last post, The Importance of the “In Depth” College Visit, I talked about taking my daughter to one of her top choice schools for a customized in-depth visit.  I really do believe that such a college  visit can be key to figuring out college fit and I will share what happened with my daughter’s visit as an example.

Going into the visit, this was my daughter’s second-choice school.  She was invited to visit to check out the major she was applying to.  She had already been to the school twice, but had been interested in different majors at the time.

At this point in her college search process, I wasn’t nervous at all because she already had it narrowed down to two schools and was highly favoring her top-choice school.  I was relishing the fact that she was smooth-sailing through her college search.  The school we were visiting, her second choice, had a program for the major she was planning to study.  The top-choice school didn’t really, but had a way to get the same end result with an extra 15-months of graduate work.

Sometimes You Just Know

The last part of our visit involved sitting in on a class in the program.  This was what clinched it for me and I was anxious to hear what my daughter thought.  The professor was great.  He had a way of engaging the students and drawing them out that even made me want to be in the class.  It was a small, discussion based class and my daughter was able to participate along with the 13 students in the class.  After class, the professor took time to talk to my daughter more and give her advice about making her final choice – honest and practical advice.

I couldn’t wait to hear her thought on the visit, but, taking a queue from my experience with my oldest daughter, I didn’t ask.  I patiently waited for her to bring it up.  It turned out she loved the experience as much as I did and felt that this was the right college fit for her.

College Fit – What to Look For

These are the signs to watch for to assess when your student has found a good college fit:

  • A feeling that he or she “belongs” there – It could be the campus overall, a particular academic program, or a group of students that triggers this feeling
  • A strong program in the field of interest – Maybe your student doesn’t know what he or she wants to study.  In that case, look for the college to have a strong methodology for helping students decide on a major.
  • A sense that he or she is important and not just a number – If a school takes the time to contact a student to extend a personalized visit, this is a great sign.  If all your student gets from the school, even after applying, is generic emails, this is not a good sign.
  • Good follow through – Do the department heads or admissions reps get back to your student when he or she emails with questions?  Do they seem ready and willing to help?
  • A safe place – Does your student feel comfortable walking in and around campus?
  • General excitement about the school – The more enthusiasm your student shows for a particular college, the more likely that it will be a good fit, at least initially.

Soon after my daughter’s visit, she said she was no longer interested in her former top-choice school.  She felt that the school we visited was the right school for her.

It’s not always this easy.  I know it wasn’t with my oldest daughter.  It may seen agonizing as your student takes time to make a decision, and you may need to wait for acceptance letters to come in to even narrow down the choices to a “top two.”

My advice to parents is, don’t get too stressed out about this.  Your student will make a good decision.  The easiest way you can help is by taking him or her to campus for in-depth visits to help answer the things I listed above.  Then give your student time and space to figure it out.

The Importance of the “In-Depth” College Visit

This week, my daughter and I are driving to one of her top two college choices for an “in-depth” college visit.  My idea of an in-depth visit usually includes sitting in on a class, looking at the specific requirements and 4-year plan for your student’s expected major, talking to students, and getting a complete tour of the building (or buildings) that house this area of study.

Typically, it is up to the student to contact the college to arrange an in-depth college visit.  Some schools will be more accommodating than others.  For example, very large public universities may only offer specific visit days and may only allow you to meet with an advisor who covers your student’s intended major.  Sometimes these very large schools only extend an offer to sit in on a class and/or meet current students in a particular major after your student has been offered admission.

In our case, this very large student reached out to my daughter after she submitted her application listing this intended major.  She had already been on two visits to the school and did a summer program there, but she had switched areas of interest since then.  They offered a meeting with a program advisor, sitting in on a class and lunch with a current student in the program.  Of course we were excited to take them up on it!

An in-depth college visit is important for narrowing down final school choices and really understanding if a school and program are a good fit.  Often, this can be done as part of an “Admitted Student Visit” in the Spring.  However, I think it is great to do these earlier if you can.  Spring gets really crazy with the pressure of final decisions, especially for students applying to 5-10 different schools.

In-Depth College Visit Tips

  1. Make arrangement for your student to sit in on a class in his/her intended major, if possible.
  2. Try to get time with a student or group of students in your student’s intended major – not a tour guide.
  3. Make sure you get to tour as many of the facilities used for your student’s intended major as possible.
  4. Get time with someone associated with the department so you can ask questions.
  5. If you have concerns regarding scholarships and financial aid, get an appointment with someone in the financial aid office.
  6. Take advantage of any “admitted student visit” programs that are offered.  The more exposure your student gets to a school, the easier it will be to make a final decision.

Help your student make the most informed decision possible on where to go to college.  In-depth visits are a great way for a student to assess whether he or she “belongs” in a particular school and program.

What Makes a “Good” College?

College Campus Image 4Ask five different people and you will probable get five different answers as to what makes a good college.  Last Sunday when I sent out my weekly newsletter, I included a link to an article from the New York Times under More to Read from Other Places titled, “For Accomplished Students, Reaching a Good College Isn’t as Hard as It Seems.”  I included it because I thought the overall message was an important one for parents and students to understand with respect to the college search:  College isn’t getting harder to get into.  Acceptance numbers are going down because students are applying to more colleges.  However, what stuck with me most from the article was the author’s definition of a “good” college.

The article implies that a “good” college is one at the very top – an elite college.  The colleges he mentions in the article include Stanford, Washington University in St. Louis, Harvard, Notre Dame, Wellesley, and University of Michigan.  It played right into a classic parental fear:  If my student doesn’t apply to and get into one of the top schools in the country, he or she will not be set up for the best success in life.

Do I agree with that?  No!  I don’t think everyone should focus their college search on getting into elite colleges.

I think that what makes a good college is different for every student and needs to account for the following factors:

  • Rigor – You want to know that your student will thrive in the environment.  The classes should offer an appropriate level of challenge, but this is a delicate balance.  You don’t want your student to be overwhelmed, but you don’t want him/her to be bored either.
  • Size – Your student needs to feel comfortable with the size of the campus and the size of the classes.
  • Learning Style – Some students need a mostly hands-on environment.  For example, many artistic students will do better in an art school environment than in a traditional college that aims to educate students to be well-rounded.  It will vary based on the student’s career goals and the learning environments that helped him or her be most successful in high school.
  • Location – I think the most important thing, location-wise, is the type of community where the school is located.  Some students need the excitement of a big city while others need the quiet of a rural location.
  • Social Fit – Will your student easily find others whose idea of a “fun Saturday night” matches with hers/his?  Is the school large enough that your student will find a group of others with the same interests?  Is it a small school with an eclectic mix of students who all seem content to learn from their differences?  Does the school seem cliquey?  Answering these questions is going to require at least one visit and some conversations with current students.

When students are just starting to build a list of potential colleges, how do they find schools that might be a good college for them?

  • Use early college visits to narrow down preferences on size and location.
  • Have your student think about the classes he/she enjoyed most in high school and why.  This will help you guide the college search with respect to learning style and rigor.
  • Use your student’s first ACT or SAT score to find potential college matches.  Look for schools where your student falls into the middle 50% of scores for admitted freshmen.  This statistic is pretty easy to find either on college search sites or by exploring the Admissions area of a school’s website.  There is nothing wrong with students attending a college where they fall above the middle 50% range.  In fact, these can offer some of the best merit scholarship opportunities.  However, they may want to look for these schools to offer an Honors Program or Honors College that will offer the rigor they need.
  • Hear what current students have to say.  It is best if you can talk to a current student face-to-face. Ask questions about what the school is really like, both in and out of the classroom.  Look for someone who will be objective – not a campus tour guide.  There also sites that allow current students to post reviews of their schools.  Niche is my favorite one to use.

I believe that what makes a good college is different for every student.  Some students are perfect candidates, both academically and financially, to attend elite colleges.  Other students are not and should not stress out about it.  The college experience and the long lasting takeaways from it are more about what a student makes of the experience than the school name on the diploma.


448 Full Tuition (or better) Academic Scholarships

Parents of college-bound kids dream of full tuition scholarship and full ride scholarships.  For the majority of students, this is not going to become a reality.  Most families are going to need to contribute to the cost of college.  However, there are opportunities for full tuition and full ride scholarships out there.  You just need to know how to find them.  I am going to explain more about these scholarships and the different types offered and then tell you where you can find 448 full tuition (or better) academic scholarships that your student could be eligible for.

First, let me define the difference:

A Full Ride Scholarship will pay for tuition, fees, room and board, and possibly throw in some money for other things like books, research, a laptop or study abroad.

A Full Tuition Scholarship will cover the cost of yearly tuition.  Some also pay fees, others do not.

Both of these types of scholarships will save a family from tens of thousands of dollars to well over $100,000 and even over $200,000 at the most expensive colleges.

There are generally three types of full tuition scholarships and full ride scholarships offered directly by colleges:

  1. Need Based – These are based on the family’s ability to pay for college, usually assessed through the FAFSA and/or CSS Profile.  Only the neediest students will qualify for full tuition or full ride need-based scholarships.
  2. Talent Based – These could be athletic scholarships or scholarships for things like dance, theater, art or music.  Full tuition and full ride athletic scholarships may be offered by Division 1, Division 2 and NAIA colleges.  As for other talents, it is very rare to find scholarships offering full tuition or better.  Most “artistic” talent scholarships are limited to a few thousand dollars.
  3. Merit Based or Academic – Academic scholarships are based on the student’s performance in high school.  The evaluation is usually based on National Merit Scholarship finalist/semi-finalist status or  a combination of grade point average (GPA), ACT or SAT score, class rank, and possibly other things such as leadership experience, community service, and the difficulty of the student’s classes.

I’m going to focus primarily on finding full tuition (or better) academic scholarships because these are the ones that are hardest to find.  A few years ago, I created the Full Scholarship List out of frustration that there wasn’t a complete resource available to find full tuition scholarships and full ride scholarships based on merit.  There are a few websites with limited and often out of date lists.  Also, I wanted to see scholarships offered directly by colleges, not those 1 in a million scholarships offered by corporations and private foundations.

I envisioned a spreadsheet, where I could search by different characteristics like required ACT or SAT score, required GPA, school location, and scholarship amount.  That is what I created.  It was a various tedious process, but I felt it was important for other parents to have this resource.

While I do include a few great merit scholarships that are less than full tuition on the Full Scholarship List, there are 448 full tuition (or better) academic scholarships listed.  These are offered to top students who apply.  Are we talking Ivy League colleges?  No, most top colleges don’t need to offer academic scholarships to attract great students.  But that doesn’t mean these are all non-competitive colleges either.  Just a few of the schools on the list include Duke, Claremont McKenna, UCLA, USC, Colorado College and Wake Forest.

If you have a top student and you are looking for a great deal on college, check out the academic scholarships on the Full Scholarship List.  You may end up saving $100,000 or more on your kid’s college education.

The Power of the First College Acceptance

approvalA large envelope came in the mail the other day.  The graphics on the outside gave away the message inside, but I handed it to my daughter to open.  She showed no reaction until she read the letter inside and then said, “You mean I don’t have to worry about getting into college?”  It was her first college acceptance.  I laughed and said, “You were really worried?”

Parents, do not underestimate the power of the first college acceptance that your high school senior receives.  Even if it is not a school near the top of their list, students feel a great sense of relief just knowing that they have been admitted somewhere.

This is like a milestone on a long journey.  You arrive and it gives you that extra “push” to get through the next leg of the trip.

The best first college acceptance letters come while the student is still diligently working on other college applications (or procrastinating about starting them).

Here’s my advice to make sure your child can benefit from this “first college acceptance” milestone:

  • Find a list of schools that offer rolling admissions – I found this short list, Highest-Ranked Schools With Rolling Admissions, published in 2014.  I also found this long list, List of Colleges with Rolling Admissions, on
  • Have your student look into some of these schools and find at least one school he or she may be interested in, at least as a “safety” school.
  • Be sure your student has displayed “demonstrated interest” through direct contact with the school.  A campus visit is best if the school is close enough.  Otherwise, contact with the admissions officer will work with the promise of visiting campus as soon as the family schedule will allow.
  • Have your student complete the application as soon as it is available.  With rolling admissions schools, the sooner you get the application in, the sooner you get a decision back.

In my daughter’s case, the school she received her first college acceptance from is also her current top school.  This resulted in her saying, “Maybe I should just stop there.”  Of course my answer was no.  I told her she needed to continue to apply to other schools so she could compare and have options for her final decision.  While I thought it may be hard to get her motivated to do that, she had a second application almost completed the next day.  So, it worked!

As I said, never underestimate the power of the first college acceptance!


Front-Loaded Financial Aid – How Will You Know?

money-bag-400301_640Have you heard about front-loaded financial aid? This is where a college attracts your student by offering a great financial aid package for the first year and then drops aid off for subsequent years. Is this something you need to be concerned about?  If you can’t afford to pay full sticker price for your student’s college, you need to understand and be concerned about colleges front-loading financial aid packages!

Why does front-loaded financial aid happen?  According to Mark Kantrowitz, senior vice president at Edvisors, in an article on The Hechinger Report, “institutions offer more to first-year students and their parents as a kind of “leveraging; they’re using financial aid as a recruiting tool.”  Colleges are doing whatever they can to recruit students they are interested in.  In many cases, throwing extra aid at the target student will increase the chances he or she will ultimately select that school.

Sometimes what looks like front-loaded financial aid is actually due to a change in a family’s financial circumstances.  For need-based aid, many things beyond just family income can impact the size of the financial aid offer, including:

  • Number of students in college at the same time
  • Number of total dependents
  • Overall net worth
  • Assets in your child’s name

Tips to Avoid Front-Loaded Financial Aid

  1. Understand what part of the financial aid package offered by a college is income dependent – This would be need-based scholarships and grants.  Anything that is not strictly based on “merit” (GPA, ACT/SAT scores, class rank) has a need-based component.
  2. Ask questions about anything labeled a “grant” – These can be vague and hard to find listed on the college’s website.  Questions to ask include – What is the grant based on – need or merit?  Is the grant renewable or is it for the first year only?
  3. Make sure you understand the renewal qualifications for any scholarships offered to your student – Does the student need to maintain a specific GPA in college?  Is the renewal automatic?  Does the student need to request the scholarship each year or fill out any paperwork in order to renew it?
  4. Think about what might change in your financial picture over four years of college – Are there years when you will have more than one student in college and years when you will only have one?  This will make a big difference in financial aid eligibility.  Make sure you run a Net Price Calculator for each potential school with each different scenario that may occur.  This will give you a preview of how your financial aid eligibility may change.
  5. Ask direct questions about front-loading – Don’t be afraid to question the financial aid office.  Make sure you are talking to someone in a position of authority, like the Financial Aid Director.  Ask straight out if you are guaranteed the same amount of aid for your student’s second year and beyond.  You may not get a direct answer, but you can gauge a lot by how much of an attempt is made to avoid answering the question!

Front-loaded financial aid can make a college look really attractive for the first year.  Make sure you know the full story so that you can avoid any surprises for the second and subsequent years.  Know what aid is renewable and know what is one-time only.  For renewable aid, know the renewal qualifications and make sure your student understands that he or she needs to meet those in order to continue to be able to afford the school.