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Sunday, September 25, 2016




A final announcement from the UConn Early College Experience (ECE) Office is below.

This is a final reminder that all students must enroll in their UConn ECE courses by this Friday, September 30, 2016.

To assist students, parents and schools, we are extending our business hours to 7:30 a.m.-7:00 p.m. until the deadline. If you have students needing help with either NetID activation or enrolling in their courses, please have them call our registration helpline at (855)382-8323.

Reminder About Registration for PSAT

Registration for the PSAT began last week and will continue until Friday, October 7.  The PSAT is a practice SAT that is highly recommended for juniors.  Sophomores  may wish to take it as well, but note that they should have already completed Geometry. The reason for the latter is that a portion of the math on the new PSAT includes Geometry and even some Trigonometry.  Sophomores should also note that they will have an opportunity to take the PSAT in March for free.

The test date is Wednesday, October 19th, and will be administered between 7:30-11:00 AM. The cost for the test is $15 and students may pay with cash or a check made out to EOSHS. Registration takes place in the Guidance Office. The window for test registration will remain open until Friday, October 7th. A late fee of $10 will be assessed after that date, provided room remains available for additional test-takers.

Juniors are eligible for National Merit Scholarships. Those students who score in the top half of the 99th percentile are typically selected as candidates for these scholarships. Their value has been $2500 and likely will remain so in the next year. Aside from eligibility for these scholarships, the new PSAT provides a testing experience that resembles the new SAT introduced this past March, and students who complete the PSAT receive in early December a detailed summary of their test performances. This summary may be very useful when preparing for the new SAT.  

Below are some brief facts about the new PSAT.

What does it measure?

Evidence-based reading and writing, reading, writing and language, and math.
Knowledge and skills developed through years of study in a wide range of courses are measured.
Continued emphasis upon reasoning along with a clearer focus on the knowledge, skills, and comprehension required for college and career success.
Greater emphasis on the meaning of words in extended contexts and how word choice influences meaning, tone, and impact.

What is the content?

Reading passages of various lengths that cover history/social studies as well as science, and students will be asked to analyze these passages .  
Multiple choice questions will focus upon command of evidence (how well students can translate and cite specific lines that support their interpretations), relevant words in context (how well students can select the best definition for how a word is used in a passage), expression of ideas (how well students can revise language in order to make more logical and cohesive arguments), and standard English conventions (assesses how well a student can conform to the basic rules of  English structure, punctuation, and usage.

How is it scored?

Scores are on a 20- to 80-point scale for critical reading, math, and writing skills.
Each correct answer equals 1 point.
Each omitted question equals no points.
There is no penalty for wrong answers (new this year).

Financial Aid Workshop for Parents Moved Up


Much has been published in recent months about the financial aid process related to college costs.  Included in all of this is the announcement of a major change that the federal government is introducing this year which is designed to provide more timely feedback to students and their parents/guardians.  The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will open on October 1, three months earlier than in past years (January 1).  So parents/guardians will be able to use last year's (2015) tax returns when completing this form that is required by colleges and universities when families are seeking financial aid.

The EOSHS Guidance Department has scheduled a financial aid workshop at 7 pm on Wednesday, NOVEMBER 17TH in the school auditorium.  A representative from the Barnum Group, a financial organization that specializes in the financial aid process, will present information about the FAFSA, how the financial aid system can work for families, how colleges use tuition discounting as a tool in the admissions process, and how the CSS Profile differs from the FAFSA.  Additionally, time will be devoted for the representative to address questions from parents/guardians in attendance.

This workshop may be beneficial for parents/guardians of students in the lower grades (9, 10, 11) as well as for those who have seniors going through the college admissions process this year.

College Goals Sunday

Program Providing Free Assistance for FAFSA

Sunday, October 23
Eastern CT State University

1:00-4:00 pm

Need help working your way through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?  It's available.  See below.

The Connecticut College Goal Sunday (CGS) program is an effort by hundreds of volunteers from across Connecticut who will come together with the common goal of making sure that the process of applying for college financial aid does not become an obstacle that would keep any person from pursuing an education beyond high school. By attending a College Goal Sunday event, participants will receive free, hands-on assistance in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and they will walk away with the satisfaction of knowing they have accomplished one of the biggest steps in getting ready to go to college. Connecticut’s CGS will take place at a number of accessible sites throughout the state. In addition to receiving assistance in filling out the FAFSA, participants will receive general information regarding financial aid programs.  

Click on link  for more information and other dates/locations.

Step-by-Step Video Tutorial on Completing the FAFSA

Click here for a video tutorial that will "walk" you through completion of the FAFSA.  This video was constructed for residents of Utah but applies to all US citizens because the FAFSA is a federal form.

Regional Tuition Discount Program 

Offers Affordable Options

Looking for a discount on college tuition? Well, the New England Board of Higher Education may have a program for you. Called the Regional Student Program (RSP) Tuition Break, this program is a partnership comprised of the public colleges and universities in New England that offers more than 700 undergraduate and graduate degree programs and provides a significant discount on regular out-of-state tuition rates to eligible students. 

Here's how it works - residents of one New England state are eligible when they attend certain public colleges in the other five New England states and pursue majors not offered by public colleges in their home state.  This means that a CT resident may enroll in an out-of-state public school in New England and pay what amounts to almost in-state tuition provided that the major pursued at the college is not one offered by any of the public colleges and universities in CT.

If interested, you can find more information about the program as well as majors available elsewhere at Regional Student Program Tuition Break.  

Below is a recent announcement made public by the RSP.

"As you advise students and families about their college and financial aid options, we encourage you to provide information on NEBHE's New England Regional Student Program (RSP), also known as Tuition Break.

The program will be relevant to students who find that their intended program of study is not offered by the University of Connecticut, Connecticut State University campuses or the Connecticut community colleges.

The RSP provides a tuition break to Connecticut residents, who are enrolled in approved degree programs at public colleges and universities in the five other New England states. 

In some cases, students may also be eligible under the Proximity Policy  option (available at certain colleges, when they live closer to an out-of-state college).

During the 2015-16 academic year, over 1,500 Connecticut residents were enrolled under the RSP and saved an estimated $10.3 million on their annual tuition bills. Students enrolled full time saved an average of $7,774.  For more details check out the Tuition Rates document."

Financial Aid: How It Works

Several individuals have been inquiring about financial aid and, more specifically, scholarships that are allegedly "out there" like untapped oil reserves. So, this entry will attempt to address the money issue related to the cost of higher education.

Let's start with a brief description of what financial aid looks like. This aid typically is "packaged" in a combination of three sources - grants (free money provided by the schools), loans (money for "rent", usually subsidized by the federal government and with low interest rates), and work-study opportunities (employment on campus). Combined, this "package" is supposed to meet the gap between what a family is expected to pay (called expected family contribution - "EFC") and the sticker price for attendance at a particular school. So, for instance, if school X costs $50,000 and your EFC is $25,000, then the financial aid package should amount to somewhere in the vicinity of the difference ($25,000). On the other hand, if School Y costs $25,000 (usually a public institution), then there may be no financial aid package provided - unless merit money is offered. Not all schools offer full coverage of the difference. In this case, families may tap into home equity or other sources (including personal bank loans) to close the gap. Grants, by the way, come in two forms - money based upon demonstrated need and money that is merit-based (earned by virtue of a student's academic achievement and/or SAT scores that meet established criteria set by the schools).

How is the EFC determined? Well, most every school requires families to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application is submitted to the government, now available on October 1 as noted above.  The information provided is based upon the previous year's tax records.  Some schools also require families to submit the CCS Profile available at The College Board web site (click here). Either or both form(s) is/are then sent to the schools to which one's child has applied and the Financial Aid Office at each school then calculates a financial aid package. It's not a precise science and, thus, aid packages may differ by school. It's not unusual for these aid packages to differ according to the degree to which each school would like the student to matriculate and/or the degree to which a school meets demonstrated need.  Use the Net Price Calculator listed under "Links to Financial Aid" on the left of this page to get an estimate of the costs to attend specific colleges.  These costs may differ based upon the formulas used by each school.

Local scholarships are available and these are generally announced sometime between March and June. The Guidance Department lists scholarship opportunities on the Naviance site. This may be accessed in the "Parent" portion of the EOS web site. As for those other scholarships "out there", FastWeb  is one web site that is reputable. There are several scams that fool too many people looking for "free" money. One such site is https://www.fafsa-application.com. DON'T USE IT. THE SITE YOU SHOULD USE IS here.  For more links, look to the left of this page under Financial Aid.

There may be "oil" to discover, but you may also need to do lots of drilling down into the data mine to unearth it.

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