When Do Student Loans Start Accruing Interest?

The basic answer to when student loans start accruing interest is right away. Whether you have to start paying that interest immediately depends upon whether it is a federal or private student loan, as each one’s interest rules can differ.

Interest on Federal Direct Student Loans and Parent PLUS Loans

Even though Federal Direct Student loans do not need to start to be paid back until six months after you leave college, interest starts to accrue on these loans as soon as you take them out. The interest starts to accrue at the interest rate in effect on the date when you take the loan. The interest rate changes every year as set by Congress for new loans that a student or parent takes out. If you have a subsidized federal loan, the federal government covers all the accrued interest costs. With federal student loans, you don’t need to pay the interest right away. You can defer interest payments along with your loan payments until six months after you leave school.

Interest on Private Student Loans

Each private loan servicer is different. So, you should reach out to them to determine their rules on how they handle interest. Typically, interest on private student loans starts to accrue, and you may be responsible for paying it, right away. Just as with federal student loans, many lenders, will allow you to defer interest payments, along with principal payments, until six months after you leave school.

If You Can, Pay the Interest While In School to Save Yourself Money in the Long Run

If you let the interest accrue, it will be added on to your loan amount. That means you will pay more over time in the future than if you paid the interest as soon as it started to accrue. This is called compounding. So, while you may have taken out a $5000 student loan, the loan amount will be quite a bit more than that when you leave school once you add the accrued interest on to the amount. As you accrue the interest, your loan amount keeps growing if you go the deferred route.

Looking for help with the college search and application process? We help students and families through the entire college planning journey – from search, applications and essays to interview prep, financial aid consultation and final school selection.

Contact us at info@signaturecollegecounseling.com or by phone, 845.551.6946. We work with students in person, through Zoom, over the phone, and by email.

College Admissions Deferred vs. Waitlist

Being deferred from a college versus being put on a waitlist are two totally different college admissions responses. Let’s say you applied early action or early decision and you get a response that says you’ve been deferred. What does that mean? A deferral letter means that your application has been moved to that school’s regular decision pool for further consideration. The school is not declining or accepting you at this point in time; rather, they are deferring your application so that you are now going to be considered along with all of the regular decision applicants. Waitlisting happens towards the end of the admissions considerations when the regular decision pool responses have come out. Like a deferral, you have not yet been rejected or accepted. If you have been waitlisted by a college, you have been put on a list of people considered for admission after the school hears back from their accepted pool. If a school has “spots” left after they hear back from their regular admissions pool, they can go to the waitlist and accept more students.

Reasons for Deferral

There are many reasons why a college may defer a student. The admissions officers may want to see additional materials and grades to see how a student is doing their senior year. It could also be that the school had a large number of extremely qualified candidates and your application did not stand-out among them in this first round because of grades, test scores, activities, etc.

Hearing From a College After Being Deferred or Waitlisted

If you apply either early action (the non-binding early application) or early decision (the binding early application), you can receive a response from the college that will say you are deferred. This means that the admissions office is putting off making a final decision on your application for the time being. They place your application in the regular decision pool and consider it against all of the other regular decision applicants. Now, you wait again to find out if you were accepted, declined or waitlisted.

So, being deferred just means that the decision on your admission is going to be considered again along with the regular decision applications.

Looking for help with the college search and application process? We help students and families through the entire college planning journey – from search, applications and essays to interview prep, financial aid consultation and final school selection.

Contact us at info@signaturecollegecounseling.com or by phone, 845.551.6946. We work with students in person, through Zoom, over the phone, and by email.

When Do You Have to Accept College Admissions Offers?

So many of my students ask me if there is a deadline for accepting their college admissions offers. When you apply to a number of colleges, the admissions responses will start rolling in, usually staggered, over a period of time. Students typically want to receive all of their responses before accepting any college admissions offer. But, of course, you don’t want to miss any deadlines for doing so. Note that the drop-dead national college acceptance deadline is May 1st of your senior year. This is known as National College Decision Day. The date is the acceptance deadline for all admissions applications. Early decision applicants are bound to attend the school if accepted and are typically required to send in a deposit way in advance of the May 1st national deadline and also have to retract their applications from all other schools that they have applied to.

You Can Accept the Admissions Offer Prior to the May 1st Deadline

While May 1st is the drop-dead deadline, you can accept a college’s admissions offer anytime before then – as long as you’ve been accepted to the school. I would say about 70% of my students, at least those who know which college they’re going to attend, accept their admissions offers before April 1st of their senior year.

How to Accept a College’s Admissions Offer

Once accepted, you have to acknowledge the acceptance with the college. To do so, you will either fill out a paper form sent by the school or note your acceptance under your school’s student portal. Along with your acceptance, you will have to typically send a housing deposit of a few hundred dollars. Each college’s acceptance requirements will be outlined in your admissions letter or email.

College Admissions Acceptance Key Takeaway

The absolute deadline for accepting admission to the college you wish to attend is May 1st of your senior year in high school, also known as National College Decision Day. Again, this deadline does not apply to early decision applications. That is dictated by your early decision agreement that you and 1 of your parents signed when submitting your application.

So, being deferred just means that the decision on your admission is going to be considered again along with the regular decision applications.

Looking for help with the college search and application process? We help students and families through the entire college planning journey – from search, applications and essays to interview prep, financial aid consultation and final school selection.

Contact us at info@signaturecollegecounseling.com or by phone, 845.551.6946. We work with students in person, through Zoom, over the phone, and by email.

How Important Are College Interviews?

In short, college interviews can be a very important part of your admissions process. They are a way to bring your application to life for the school’s admissions officers. Interviews also offer you a valuable opportunity for the school representative to understand who you are as a person and why you want to go to that specific school.

Be Prepared for the Interview

You want to put your best foot forward for the interview. That means you need to prepare. By prepare we don’t mean to make yourself into somebody that you are not, but rather that you want to present yourself the best way you possibly can.

Be ready to tell the interviewer about yourself. In two to three minutes, you should give that person an overview of who you are. This doesn’t mean list all your accomplishments, but instead present a side to you that the interviewer wouldn’t have seen or known from looking at your application.

You should also be prepared to answer “Why do you want to attend this school?” If you have scheduled an interview, you should have already visited / toured the college (At least virtually if circumstances prevented you from visiting in person), as well as conducted your research about its academics, student life, campus, organizations and activities, etc. So make sure to draw from all this information you have gathered to express why you are so interested in attending this specific school.

Scheduling the Interview

Interviews are typically set up through the college’s website. Some schools, however, require the interview be scheduled by phone. Although many interviews are conducted in person, keep in mind that many interviews are now being done virtually.

Not All Colleges Offer Admissions Interviews

While you may want to schedule an interview, not all colleges offer interviews. So, you need to find out if the schools to which you are applying offer interviews. 70% to 80% of colleges do not interview. If the schools you are interested in offer an interview, take advantage of it. You should note that there are different types of interviews. There are interviews with admissions counselors – if you can get an interview with an admissions counselor, all the better as they are the ones who are going to be evaluating you. Often, however, the interviews are conducted by alumni who have volunteered their time to interview applicants.

Interview Takeaway

Interviews can be game-changers. If the schools to which you are applying offer an interview, take advantage of that opportunity. Remember, you always want to put your best foot forward, so make sure you are prepared. Do your homework and be ready to tell the interviewer about yourself and why you want to attend that specific college.

Looking for help with the college search and application process?

Looking for help with the college search and application process? We help students and families through the entire college planning journey – from search, applications and essays to interview prep, financial aid consultation and final school selection.

Contact us at info@signaturecollegecounseling.com or by phone, 845.551.6946. We work with students in person, through Zoom, over the phone, and by email.

How Do You Set Up a College Visit?

Just Follow these 3 Simple Steps

Setting up a college visit is fairly simple. It really hinges on knowing where to go online to schedule your visit. Practically all colleges have calendars on the Admissions or Visit sections of their website. Once you find the right page, it just takes a few clicks of the keys and you are all set.

1. Find the Visit Scheduling Page

Go to the Admissions section/page of the website of the college you want to visit. That page will typically have a link that says Visit or Visit Us or Tours. If you don’t see anything about a visit or tour on the college’s main Admissions page, simply google the school name and visit, i.e., Visit Vasser or Northeastern Campus Tours, and you should easily find the page you need in the search results.

2. Select the Day and Time for Your Visit

Once you have found the right page on the college’s website, search for the Visit, Schedule a Visit, Schedule a Tour or similar button or link. Click on that link or button and you will most likely be taken to a calendar that shows available days and times for a tour/visit. Click on the day you would like to visit the school.

3. Submit Student Information

Once you have picked the day and time of the visit, you will be directed to provide student information, such as:
• Name
• Whether You’re a Prospective Freshman or Transfer
• Number of People Visiting
• Birthdate
• Academic Area of Interest
• Semester You Plan on Enrolling
• Email
• Phone Number
• Address
• Parent Contact Information
• Name of High School

Once you submit all of the necessary information, you will get a visit / tour confirmation. You should also receive necessary visiting information, such as directions, where to park, building check in, etc.

That’s it. Just follow these three steps to set up your college visits.

Looking for help with the college search and application process? We help students and families through the entire college planning journey – from search, applications and essays to interview prep, financial aid consultation and final school selection.

Contact us at info@signaturecollegecounseling.com or by phone, 845.551.6946. We work with students in person, through Zoom, over the phone, and by email.

What to Do If You’re Deferred from College

There are some things you can do if you are deferred from a college to help with your admissions process, which are outlined below. But before we get into the specific actions, let’s make sure you know what deferral actually means.

What Being Deferred Means

A college deferral means that if you had applied early action or early decision to a college, that school is not going to accept you during the early action or early decision process. They are going to defer – or put off – making a decision about your admission and push your application to the regular decision pool of applicants. So, a deferral is not a decline nor is it an acceptance; it is a second chance for admission into a college.

Things to Do If You Are Deferred from a School

So, you were deferred. Now what? What can you do to help your chances of being accepted? Here are some tips.

Decide If the College Is Still a Top Choice for You

Consider if the school is still on the top of your list. If so, of course, you will want to do whatever you can to improve your chances of getting admitted and follow our tips below. However, if you have changed your mind about the school, you won’t want to put in the effort.

Follow the College’s Guidelines

First and foremost, if the college from which you were deferred specifically states to NOT send them anything else, then don’t send them anything! It is very important to make sure that you read everything that the college has sent you that relates to deferral. If they don’t want you to add anything to consider in the admissions process, then follow that direction. If the college did not tell you to not send them anything, follow the recommendations below.

Send Mid-Year or First Quarter Grades

Your midyear grades or your first quarter grades might boost your application if they were better than the grades that you sent previously. Improved grades could make a positive impact on your admissions status.

Email the Admissions Office

Write an email to the admissions office restating your reasons for why the school is a top choice for you. In this email, you may want to update any achievements that have happened since you submitted your application so that they can note that in your file.

Send an Additional Letter of Recommendation

Now is a great time to send another letter of recommendation from a specific teacher that you may have missed when you were sending your application.

Visit the School

Visiting the school is always helpful. First and foremost, it demonstrates interest in the school. It also helps you make a more informed decision about where the school stands on your list of choices.

In addition to the above, make sure to not negate or put aside the other schools you have applied to regular decision. Make sure you follow up on everything with those schools as well. You want to keep all of your options open.

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How Long Does It Take for Colleges to Make Admissions Decisions?

The timing for admissions decisions vary by school and the way you apply. A college could reply in as little as two weeks or as long as months! Here is a breakdown of the typical timelines for regular decision, early action, early decision, and rolling admissions.

Decision Timeline for Rolling Admissions

Some colleges have rolling admissions. This means that they evaluate applications as they receive them. So, if you applied to a rolling admissions school, like the University of Pittsburgh, you could possibly learn of their decision within two to three weeks of receiving all of your information (application, transcript, test scores (if applicable), letters of recommendation, etc.).

When You Could Receive Admissions Responses for Early Action and Early Decision

As the name implies, if you are applying early action or early decision, you will receive your admission decisions earlier than if you applied regular decision. Some schools even break it down into Early Decision 1 and Early Decision 2 dates. When you are applying early action, you typically have deadlines between November 1st and January. So, you could hear about your decision before the holidays, but you could also hear sometime in early to mid-January, if you applied Early Action. For example, Northeastern typically sends out their early action admissions decisions towards the end of January.

As for Early Decision, which is binding, the dates are usually very specific as to when the college will respond to you and tell you their admissions decision. Some schools will actually tell you not only the day, but also the time that they are going to release their decisions. Early Decision admission responses typically come out before the holidays.

Dates for Learning Regular Admissions Decisions

If you apply to a college by regular decision, you probably will not receive an admissions response until February or March – even if you applied and submitted everything required during September or October. So if you are really interested in a school, and would like to know an acceptance decision sooner, you should consider applying Early Action, if the school offers this.

As you can see, there is no set admissions decisions timeline. How long it takes for you to receive your admissions decision depends upon the college and how you applied.

Looking for help with the college search and application process? We help students and families through the entire college planning journey – from search, applications and essays to interview prep, financial aid consultation and final school selection.

Contact us at info@signaturecollegecounseling.com or by phone, 845.551.6946. We work with students in person, through Zoom, over the phone, and by email.

What Is a Regular Decision Deadline?

The regular decision deadline is the last day that you can submit your application for admission to that particular college or university for the following school year (unless there is also rolling admission then you have to adhere to the rolling admission deadline). Regular decision deadlines vary school by school. The latest regular decision application deadline dates tend to be in January, with some as late as February or beyond.

Multiple Deadline Dates

If you are applying regular decision to a group of colleges, it is important to find out, and keep track of, the application deadlines for each individual school. You don’t want to miss out on applying to the school you wish to attend because you had the wrong deadline date!

Other Application Deadlines

A school can have multiple ways in which you apply:

Early Action – you can receive an early response and are not bound to attend the school
Early Decision – you can receive an early response and are bound to attend
Priority Admission – if you apply after the deadline you may not be considered at all
Regular Decision – typically the latest date you can apply to a school
Rolling Decision – applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, typically with a later deadline, such as May or June

Each school does not have all of the above ways to apply. They select which ones that choose to offer to their applicants.

Read our blog When Is the Deadline for College Applications for more information on each type of application.

You need to know when each school’s regular decision deadlines are because submitting an application after the deadline could mean that you’re not even considered. So, find out each deadline, keep track of when it is approaching, and make sure you submit your applications on time.

Looking for help with the college search and application process? We help students and families through the entire college planning journey – from search, applications and essays to interview prep, financial aid consultation and final school selection.

Contact us at info@signaturecollegecounseling.com or by phone, 845.551.6946. We work with students in person, through Zoom, over the phone, and by email.

What to Expect on an Official College Visit

You have been invited to go on an official college visit. After the initial excitement over the invitation dissipates a bit, you begin to wonder what this all entails. You may be thinking, “What does official mean? What can I expect to take place during this type of visit?” An “official college visit” refers to athletic recruiting by a school.

This extended invitation means that the college or university is so impressed with your athletic abilities that they are willing to pay for you to visit the college to try to get you interested in coming to their school and playing on their team. This can be at a school of any division. The difference is that there are a maximum of 5 official visits a student-athlete can attend for in Division 1. For Division 2 and 3, the number of visits are unlimited.

What Is Meant by “Paying” for Your Visit

When a college invites you on an official visit, they are paying for your:
• Travel
• Accommodations
• Meals

It is important to note that typically the school is paying for your expenses related to this visit – not the expenses of your parents, family or other person accompanying you on, or bringing you to, the visit.

What Transpires During the Visit

Each school has its own official visit protocol, but you can expect to potentially:

• Meet with the coaching staff
• Meet the team
• Tour the athletic facilities
• Attend one of the practices
• Tour the campus
• Eat in the cafeteria
• Join in a social event
• Interact with one or more members of the team who may show you around the school
• Eat a meal with the team
• Spend the night in one of the player’s rooms

Do You Need to Be Extended an Official Visit to Be Recruited?

No, you can be recruited by a school – even a DI school – even if you don’t go on an official visit. This happens all of the time.

Can I Go on More than One Official Visit?

Yes, you can go on multiple official visits. But, you can only have an official visit with a college once, and you can only have five official visits to DI schools. There is no limit on the number of official visits to DII or DIII schools or for unofficial visits (where travel, lodging and meals are not paid for).

The purpose of an official visit is to get to know the school, coaching staff and team better so you will consider the school during your college search decision. So, you can expect a good deal of engagement during your time there. What makes a visit official is that the college is paying for the expenses associated with your visit.

So, being deferred just means that the decision on your admission is going to be considered again along with the regular decision applications.

Looking for help with the college search and application process? We help students and families through the entire college planning journey – from search, applications and essays to interview prep, financial aid consultation and final school selection.

Contact us at info@signaturecollegecounseling.com or by phone, 845.551.6946. We work with students in person, through Zoom, over the phone, and by email.

College Regular Decision Notification Dates

So you have applied to one or more schools regular decision. Now, the waiting begins. The anticipation is driving you crazy. How long will it take for the schools to respond to my application? When will I hear whether I have been accepted or not? These are very common questions that I’m sure every college-bound student asks themselves. Unfortunately, there is no definitive date. Decision notification dates vary from school to school.

Decision Dates Are School Specific

As with every other aspect of the college application process, notification dates are school specific. For example, if two schools’ regular decision deadlines for submitting applications is January, one school may notify you about your decision in February and the other school in March. You just don’t know.

Some schools set March 31st as their regular decision notification date, with some even waiting until April 1st to let you know your admissions status.

There are some highly selective schools that will set a hard date and time of day on which they are going to release their regular decision admissions notifications so that they release all decisions together. Other schools simply release them as time goes on. So, really, you can receive your admissions response anytime after you submit your application.

Is There a Final Date or Deadline for all Regular Decision Notifications?

You should receive a regular decision admissions notification by March 31st or April 1st the latest. We always consider April as decision month, when you can explore and then decide which school you are going to attend.

Looking for help with the college search and application process? We help students and families through the entire college planning journey – from search, applications and essays to interview prep, financial aid consultation and final school selection.

Contact us at info@signaturecollegecounseling.com or by phone, 845.551.6946. We work with students in person, through Zoom, over the phone, and by email.

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