FAQ College: Frequently Asked Questions about College Admissions and Costs

Question of the Week: What is a likely letter?

person raising hand in classA “likely letter” is a letter from the college admissions office stating that you are likely to be admitted as long as nothing changes before the official admissions deadline. They are not formal offers of admissions–just notices that students are very “likely” to be admitted. Students receive likely letters a month or two before the regular admissions decision deadline.

Likely letters are common for athletic recruits to the Ivy League. Since Ivy League schools don’t award athletic scholarships, they use likely letters as a means to indicate to the athlete that they will be accepted at the school. According to Tier One Athletics, “it varies from between sports and schools, but 2/3 to 3/4 of the varsity athletes in the Ivy League are Likely Letter recruits. ”

However, it isn’t only athletes that receive likely letters. According to the Harvard Crimson, the admissions office sent out 300 likely letters in 2011 and 100 of them were addressed to non-athletes. Instead of offering these students early admissions, they receive likely letters. At Brown, approximately 1/5 of the class receives likely letter with about half sent to athletes.

It’s not just Ivy League schools that send out likely letters. The University of Virginia also sends out likely letters. Other schools that send out versions of the likely letter are Smith, Clark, and Grinnell.

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FAQ College Money Issues

An outside scholarship is one that is not part of the financial aid package awarded to you by the college ...
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Scholarships are taxable depending on what they are spent on. If you are a degree candidate, the amount of your ...
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Yes. You can appeal your financial aid award if there has been a change in your family circumstance or if ...
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Students can enter up to 10 schools on the FAFSA if completed on the web. Any schools added after the ...
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There are very few situations when applying for financial aid could possibly hurt your chances for admissions. For your financial ...
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Public colleges and universities charge non-residents higher tuition than in-state residents. Therefore, students who want to attend an out-of-state public ...
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Even if you think your parents make too much money to qualify for financial aid, you should still fill out ...
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Net price calculators (NPC) are a way for students and their families to estimate how much it would cost to ...
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In the most general terms, Average Net Price is the price that students actually pay for college as opposed to ...
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A financial aid gap occurs when a college’s financial aid award for a student doesn’t meet the student’s financial need ...
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Merit aid refers to college awarded financial aid that is not based on financial need. The most commonly recognized form ...
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Self-help financial aid is aid that the student earns through work or is required to pay back. Student loans and ...
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Federal, state, loan disbursements, and institutional financial aid is distributed through your college. Outside scholarships maybe be distributed directly to ...
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There are specific limits for federal financial aid programs. Since July 1, 2013, first time borrowers of subsidized loans are ...
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For students with divorced parents, the custodial parent is the one the parent they lived with the for the previous ...
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529 Plans are college savings plans operated by the state or educational institution. The main advantage of a 529 plan ...
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Private education loans are loans  to college students made by financial institutions such as banks and credit unions. The do ...
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Colleges and universities award students financial aid packages to help cover the cost of attendance. The package is typically made ...
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There are four types of federal loans. Three are loans to students and one is a loan to parents. The ...
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The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) program is a campus-based aid program. The school’s financial aid office receives a ...
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There are four major federal grant programs available for undergraduates: Federal Pell Grants Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) Teach ...
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The Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) is a federal program that allows parents of undergraduate students or graduate and ...
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EFC stands for expected family contribution. This is the amount of money families are expected to pay for their students ...
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Preferential packaging is the practice of changing the type and amount of financial aid awarded to a student based on ...
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The CSS PROFILE is basically a non-governmental financial aid application administered by the College Board, the same people who bring ...
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There are two types of federal guaranteed student loans: subsidized and unsubsidized. The subsidy refers to the payment of interest ...
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The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid administered by the Office of Federal Student Aid. Students must ...
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The Federal Methodology is the formula used by the federal government in calculating a student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC) which ...
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SAR stands for Student Aid Report and is what you receive after your FAFSA is processed. If you provided an ...
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Tuition discounting refers to the scholarships and grants colleges and universities provide to students. The Association of Government Boards of ...
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The federal work-study program is one of the financial aid options available when you qualify for federal aid. The work-study ...
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The Cost of Attendance (COA) and Average Net Price (which for some reason never gets abbreviated) are actually defined by ...
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The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can be filed any time after October 1st of the student's senior ...
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The key to finding scholarships is to understand that most are targeted for specific student populations. This means two things ...
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Financial aid consists of all awards from government sources, private organizations, and colleges themselves. Therefore, eligibility for financial aid will ...
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FAQ College Admissions Testing

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No. All four-year colleges accept both tests. Both the SAT and ACT provide concordance tables to "translate" scores from one ...
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The ACT test has four sections, English, Math, Reading, and Science, each scored on a scare of 1 to 36 ...
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The College Board and ACT have created concordance tables to compare ACT and SAT test scores. The tables are based ...
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The term "test optional" generally refers to colleges and universities that do not require students to submit ACT or SAT ...
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The maximum SAT test score on all three sections of the test is 2400. This score is based on the ...
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Superscoring is the practice of taking the best sub scores from multiple test dates to create the highest superscore possible ...
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The PSAT is the Preliminary SAT and National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Basically, the PSAT is a practice test for ...
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The conventional wisdom is that juniors should take the SAT or ACT sometime in the spring of their junior year.  ...
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FAQ College General

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No. If your high school offers AP classes then taking AP classes demonstrates taking the most rigorous academic program available ...
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The most common calendar type for colleges is the semester system. The school year is divided into a Fall and ...
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A 3-2 program commonly refers to a dual degree program in Engineering and Liberal Arts that is completed by attending ...
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A “likely letter” is a letter from the college admissions office stating that you are likely to be admitted as ...
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The term "Public Ivy" was coined by Richard Moll in Public Ivies: A Guide to America's Best Public Undergraduate Colleges ...
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The basic difference is that Early Decision (ED) is binding and Early Action (EA) is not. Binding means that if ...
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If you know enough to ask the question, you are ready to start visiting colleges. But what if you’re only ...
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