COVID-19 College Counseling Update for Families

The COVID-19 situation has certainly dramatically changed the daily school lives for our students. Our CI students in particular are wondering/worried about how their college processes will be impacted. While information is ever-changing, the College Counseling Department is working closely with our colleagues on the college side and has put together some key points of information for students and their families. We will continue to communicate with students and families as more information becomes available.

Seniors
Regular communication with your individual college counselor will be important to navigate the next steps for your processes. Your student needs to communicate their admissions results so that we know which schools are possibilities for them for next year.

  • Financial Aid: All seniors should have an “Award Letter Organizer Tool” in their CP 12 Google folder. When they receive a financial aid award letter, they should attempt to enter the information into the tool, and then share the letter with their college counselor who will check their work. We will then use this tool to help families make an informed college decision. 
    • Verification: If your student has been asked for financial aid verification documents, it is very important that these are submitted ASAP. Failure to submit these documents could impact a student’s financial aid.
    • Appeals: If your family’s current financial situation has changed from 2018 (the information you used to file FAFSA), especially due to loss of income from COVID-19 closures, your student can write an appeal to ask for new information to be considered. Please have the student contact their individual counselor. Families may be asked to provide additional documentation. 
    • Health Insurance: All college students are required to have health insurance. Colleges will charge students for insurance on their bill; to get this charge removed, students have to show evidence of existing insurance (usually through a parent or guardian). 
  • Deposit Deadlines: The national response date for seniors is May 1st. While some colleges are extending their deadlines to June 1st, others are not, so it is essential that your student is checking the websites of the colleges they are considering attending. Depositing by the deadline will ensure timely course registration, housing selection, etc. If paying a deposit will be a hardship for your family, you can request that it possibly be waived or reduced; this request must be made in advance of the deadline. Please have your student contact their counselor. 
  • Student Loans: Most students will be taking out the Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized student loans as part of their financial aid process. There are some key steps that students need to complete for this to happen. Ms. Michels will be providing step-by-step instructions through her Google classroom site, and individual counselors will be able to answer questions. Students must complete all steps that Ms. Michels assigns. Some key terms below:
    • Entrance Counseling: a slideshow/video/”quiz” that a student must complete to show that they’ve received information about the loans and repayment terms
    • Master Promissory Note (MPN): this is an agreement that a student signs that says they will pay back the students loans when repayment begins; student has to provide information about the school they will be attending, so they will have to make their college choice before completing this.
  • Final Transcripts: Final transcripts will be sent to the college your student decides to attend and deposits at after Semester 2 ends and all graduation requirements are met. We are confident that any changes to PHA’s grading policy for Q4, as a result of the Covid-19 school closure, will be accepted by most colleges.

Juniors
The department has prioritized the following topics for Quarter 4, to ensure that your student’s college application process stays on track and is in the best place by the end of the year: continued SAT prep, the college essay, researching colleges/demonstrated interest, and the teacher recommendation request process. If your student completes all assignments Mr. Costa assigns through Google Classroom, they will be in great shape! 

  • SAT: The College Board cancelled the March & May exams, all payments/fee waivers will be returned to students; the June test is still available, but that could change. The department will communicate with students regarding when they should plan on taking the SAT.
    • Update (as of 4/15): the June SAT has been cancelled. Please continue to watch for more updates from the College Counseling Department.
  • College Essay: Mr. Costa is excited to help your student begin writing the college essay! All students are expected to have one draft complete in Q4 and will receive feedback from a college counselor so that they can make improvements over the summer.
  • Demonstrating Interest: Colleges are just as uneasy as high schools are about the impact COVID-19 will have on their campuses. Demonstrating interest will be more important than ever. While visiting campuses for tours is not currently an option, students are encouraged to research colleges, participate in virtual tours, and engage with admissions reps via email (more from Mr. Costa on this).
  • Teacher Recommendations: The department has a process and timeline in place for juniors to ask 2 teachers to write recommendations for their college applications. Please follow Mr. Costa’s instructions on this when the time comes! 
  • Individual Counselor Meetings: The department will assign students their individual college counselor within the next 2 weeks. Mr. Costa will let students know when this is complete and students will be able to check this information on Naviance. We will be contacting our individual students and scheduling meetings via Google Meet shortly after that. 

Contact Us
If you have any questions about your child’s college counseling process, please feel free to email Erin McElligott, Director of College Counseling, and your child’s individual college counselor will respond.