how financial aid works

Beth Heaton was back at the mic last week, hosting a Getting In: A College Coach Conversation episode chock-full of great information and helpful advice. Beth introduced a new series, “Standing Out,” as well as returned to the perennially favorite topics of FAFSA filing and score sending. If you’re looking for answers about these topics, then this episode is just for you!

How Can I Stand Out?

Kennon Dick, former admissions officer at Swarthmore College and Drexel University, joined Beth for the kick off of the new series “Standing Out.” In the inaugural segment, Beth and Kennon provided an introduction to the idea of “standing out,” sharing ideas and examples of students who stood out in their years of application reading. As Kennon so eloquently said, “If there were a prescription for standing out, then everybody would follow that formula and, by definition, nobody would stand out. Doing something different, following your own path—that’s what makes a student stand out.” In future segments, our experts will dive deeply into the particular ways a student might stand out: extracurricular activities, essays, letters of recommendation, and more!

Should I File the FAFSA?

The FAFSA opened on October 1st, leaving many families wondering if they should fill out and file the document. The shortest answer, according to Stacey MacPhetres, College Coach Finance Consultant, is “Yes!” Of course Stacey and Beth discussed, in depth, the many reasons you would want to file the FAFSA, which include, but are not limited to: debunking preconceived assumptions about eligibility, remaining in the running for merit consideration, and ensuring continued federal student loan and Parent PLUS loan eligibility. But can there be negative consequences for filing a FAFSA? Stacey shared that there are no real significant consequences to filing; however, if a family knows they have no financial need, the student is on the “cusp” of admissibility at a particular institution, and that school is not “need-blind” in their admissions process, a family might choose not to file. Tune in to find out why!

Which Standardized Tests Should I Send?

In the final segment Kara Courtois joined Beth to discuss the ins and outs of standardized testing. What should you send? What are the rules? How do you decide? First and foremost, Kara urged all students to double- and triple-check the requirements for each and every school they are applying to, as it’s imperative to follow the directions exactly. Did you know that the vast majority of schools don’t require AP scores? How about the fact that some schools don’t require official scores at all? If you read the rules, you could save a lot of stress, time, and money! A lot was covered in this segment, but you should absolutely listen to hear Kara and Beth’s take on self-reporting scores on your applications.

Ian Fisher returns to host our next episode, tackling another segment of “Standing Out,” as well as exploring when you should file the FAFSA, and how to tell if you’re ready to submit your application. Tune in for more great conversations and advice!


Written by Abigail Anderson
Abigail Anderson is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions experts. Abigail received her bachelor’s in sociology from Colby College. Prior to joining College Coach, Abigail worked as a senior admissions officer at Reed College and Emma Willard School. Visit our website to learn more about Abigail Anderson.