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Understanding How to Evaluate and Compare Institutional Scholarship Offers

The value of an education is immeasurable, but the cost of college is steep.

Between academic years 2007-08 and 2012-13, the percentage of first-time, full-time undergraduate students at a four-year, degree-granting institution receiving any financial aid increased from 80 to 85 percent, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

The percentage of students receiving aid at four-year, private, for-profit institutions grew from 76 percent in 2007-08 to 89 percent in 2012-13.

For the majority of students, accepting financial aid is an essential stepping stone toward earning a college degree. Scholarship and grant opportunities in particular can help ease the burden of college costs and make higher education more affordable.

If your student is deciding among different college opportunities and financial aid offers, congratulations on his or her acceptance! Factors such as location, campus culture, school size and academic programs serve as considerations during the decision-making process, but financial aid typically prevails.

Use this guide to help evaluate and compare financial aid and scholarship offers.

Types of Financial Aid

The three main types of financial aid are loans that require repayment, work-study programs and scholarships and grants. Scholarships and grants provide the most impactful financial opportunity; scholarships and grant are given to your student based on academic merit, athletic achievement, minority status, financial need or field of study, for example. These types of financial aid are awarded to your student and aren’t required to be paid back.

Financial Baselines

First, determine the cost of attendance to use as the foremost guiding factor while evaluating financial aid. The cost of attendance includes the estimated cost of tuition and fees, room and board, coursework materials and extra college living expenses, according to Scholarships.com.

Next, determine your expected family contribution and unmet need for each college. The expected family contribution is the amount your student expects to pay (typically based on your student’s financial aid application, FAFSA or CSS Profile). Your unmet need is the amount needed to pay to meet average annual costs.

The cost of attendance and the estimated amount your family will contribute and is responsible for can help guide which college opportunity is most financially beneficial.

Evaluating Scholarship Offers

The award letter will itemize each financial component, including the cost of attendance, expected family contribution, unmet need and institutional scholarships. Mindful of these financial components, help your student assess scholarship offers by listing each scholarship and name according to amount and conditions for acceptance.

Acknowledge the following details as you and your student evaluate each award:

  • Duration of scholarship
  • Minimum GPA or other academic or course requirements
  • Sport or activity requirements
  • Conditions (for example, is it a high-value annual scholarship with extensive conditions for renewal? Or is it a scholarship with a smaller annual amount but is easily renewable?)
  • Rules in regard to other financial aid your student receives (for example, if the scholarship or grant amount exceeds the amount of financial need, the awards will be reduced)

Evaluating Financial Aid

GoCollege also offers these tips to help make the best decision while evaluating your overall available financial aid:

  • Value scholarships and grant opportunities the most; these never have to be repaid
  • Try to acquire subsidized Federal loans; unlike unsubsidized loans, subsidized loans are more affordable because your student won’t have to pay for interest accrued during college
  • Aim to minimize your unmet need amount, which can mean choosing the school that may not be a top choice, but is more affordable
  • Compare short-term and long-term costs (for example, a loan that covers all costs upfront may cost more down the road, rather than a school offering scholarships or grants that may still leave an unmet need)

Scholarships at Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University recognizes the rising costs of attending college and believes in making a valuable higher education an attainable opportunity.

GCU strives to make a private, Christian education affordable for all of our students. GCU offers generous academic scholarship and grant opportunities and has kept tuition frozen with no increases since 2009. The average student pays approximately $7,800 per year* in tuition after institutional scholarships and grants. Plus, our room and board prices are well below the national average, starting at just $6,050 per year.**

Visit gcu.edu/CampusScholarships to learn more about full-time, on-campus and outside scholarship opportunities to financially supplement an education at Grand Canyon University. The University Financial Aid Office awards scholarships to support educational goals of students based on factors like academic merit, fine arts, leadership and early decision. Scholarships may also increase based on academic performance at GCU.

Information as of Fall 2014

* Average tuition after scholarships is approximately $7,800. Scholarships may be awarded based on 6th semester transcripts. At the time in which final, official transcripts are received, GCU reserves the right to rescind or modify the scholarship if it is determined that eligibility was not achieved. GCU reserves the right to decline scholarship awards for any reason. If a student does not meet the minimum renewal criteria, their scholarship will be forfeited. GCU reserves the right to change scholarship awards at any time without notice. If a student does not meet the minimum renewal criteria, their scholarship will be forfeited. Prices based on 2014-15 rate and are subject to change.

**Housing and meal plan rate includes triple occupancy, suite-style residence hall and $1,350 Dining Dollars, plus applicable sales tax as required by state law. Prices reflect 2015-16 and are subject to change.

Resources:

www.nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=31

www.professionals.collegeboard.com/guidance/financial-aid/compare

www.scholarships.com/financial-aid/financial-aid-tips/comparing-financial-aid-offers/

www.gocollege.com/financial-aid/student-loans/compare-loans.html

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High School Juniors and Seniors: Advantages of Early Commitment and Registration at GCU

The transition from high school to college can be an overwhelming experience, which is why Grand Canyon University encourages high school students to start applying to colleges early.

GCU makes the college application process easy and beneficial by providing high school juniors and seniors with the opportunity to enroll in GCU with an early decision and even lock in a scholarship.

Not only does an early commitment to GCU enable a future Lope to enjoy the remainder of their high school experiences without the stress of college visits and applications, they can take advantage of the following available benefits exclusive to GCU.

Scholarship Award Program

High school students can secure the GCU scholarship program for the following academic year by registering early. The academic scholarship program awards aid for academic merit, priority registration and enrollment in a computer science, information technology or engineering degree program.

GCU’s current scholarship program offers qualified students the opportunity to lock in the best scholarships and grants, including Direct Start Scholarships and the following:

  • Computer Science/Information Technology/Engineering Program Grant: This grant awards $1,000 per academic year to students who are admissible to GCU and enroll in a computer science, information technology or engineering degree program at GCU. These awards are available on a first-come, first-served basis
  • Grand Canyon State University Grant: This grant awards $1,000 per academic year to Arizona students who attend one of our PLLS, CEP or ALPHA school alliances.
  • Priority Registration Grant: These grants award $500 or $250 per academic year to the first groups of students who enroll at GCU for the fall semester. These awards are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Learn more by visiting gcu.edu/CampusScholarships

CCSC Scholarship

Students who attend a private Christian high school in a partnership with GCU may be able to receive an annual $5,000 Canyon Christian Schools Consortium (CCSC) Scholarship for on-campus residents or an annual $2,500 CCSC Scholarship for off-campus residents, which could total $20,000 toward college tuition over the course of four years.

To be considered, students must apply to GCU and meet the minimum acceptance criteria. This scholarship is also renewable annually as long as the student maintains the required GCU GPA, attends GCU’s weekly Chapel services and meets the 20-hour community service requirement each semester.

Additional Advantages

High school students who apply early and secure the scholarship program also have the opportunity to participate in the GCU debt-prevention plan and register for housing and classes early. Students can reserve their favorite residence hall, register their top course choices and arrange their ideal schedule.

The most fun part of early registration is previewing college life at GCU for free at Discover GCU. Students can get the REAL college experience at Discover GCU – a free overnight event where high school students meet future Lopes and current students, move into a suite-style residence hall, tour campus, attend a mock class and engage in all that GCU has to offer, from campus dining to athletic events.

Visit gcu.edu/Discover for more information.

Along with scholarship and grant opportunities and student perks like early housing and class registration, students who enroll in GCU early officially become Lopes. Students receive an official GCU student I.D. and are invited to exclusive GCU events. Welcome to Lope Life!

Visit gcu.edu to request more information and apply today!

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The Cost of College: How to Help Finance Higher Education

The value of a college education is immeasurable. A college education serves as a lifetime investment providing a college student with lifelong memories, a wide range of learning experiences and a degree that increases his or her marketability within the job market.

Families understand how essential higher education is for creating a greater quality of life (from establishing a career to increasing earning potential). But the cost to attend college is steep, and fewer parents can afford to help pay for an education.

If you’re concerned about how to help your child afford a quality college education, you’re not alone. Use the following guide to help the decision-making process as your family faces the high price of attending college:

Financial Aid Eligibility

Financial aid can help lessen the burden of paying for college, but qualifying for it can be complicated and difficult to obtain. Keep in mind these strategies for maximizing your student’s financial aid eligibility:

  • Save money and put assets in the parent’s name, not the child’s name.
  • Pay off consumer debt, including high credit card balances and car loans.
  • Reduce income, avoiding artificial increases in income.
  • Don’t overestimate your income on FAFSA. Report adjusted gross income, rather than gross income.
  • Avoid taking money out of a retirement fund to help pay for college and make larger contributions to retirement funds (to reduce income).
  • File as soon as possible after Jan. 1.
  • Be mindful of selling assets and capital gains, which can increase income and decrease eligibility.

Loan and Grant Options

FinAid.org defines an education loan as a form of financial aid that must be repaid with interest. Loans are categorized in three major categories: (1) student loans (Stafford and Perkins loans), (2) parent loans (PLUS loans) and private student loans (or alternative student loans). Grants, such as state grants and the TEACH grant, can also help reduce college expenses and don’t need to be repaid.

  • Subsidized Stafford Loan: Interest doesn’t accrue while the student’s in school. Also, maximums rise the longer a dependent student stays in school.
  • Unsubsidized Stafford Loan: This loan is available to any student, regardless of need. Yet, interest accrues while the student’s in school.
  • Federal Perkins Loan: This type of loan is made directly to students without a co-signature by a parent. Students can wait nine months after graduation to start repayment and have 10 years to repay the loan.
  • PLUS Loan: As a non-need-based loan, this type of loan is made to parents, rather than students. Credit history determines loan eligibility. The repayment period can extend up to 10 years and the interest rate is typically fixed.
  • Private Loan: Private loans include bank lines of credit, home-equity loans and Signature Student loans. Keep in mind, repayment typically starts immediately. Try to exhaust federal student loan eligibility first because federal loans are less expensive and offer better terms.
  • Pell Grant: The Pell Grant is awarded primarily to low-income families.
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant: Administered by colleges, this needs-based grant awards up for $4,000 per year. Recipients may also have to participate in the federal work-study program.

Scholarships

Like grants, scholarships are a type of student financial aid that doesn’t need to be repaid. Scholarships are generally awarded based on special academic, athletic or artistic qualifications. Scholarships may also be awarded to students interested in studying a particular subject matter, minority students, students who are part of an underrepresented group or students who live in a low-income area.

GCU Scholarship Opportunities

Grand Canyon University recognizes the fiscal challenge of financing college and strives to make a quality education affordable for all families. GCU offers various generous scholarship opportunities that can significantly reduce tuition rates. High school students can also help fund college with raise.me, an online platform where high school students can earn micro-scholarships for individual achievements. Students can achieve goals to earn these micro-scholarships and track earnings on a live homepage feed. Go to raise.me to create a portfolio and start following GCU today!

Visit Tuition and Financing on gcu.edu to learn more about financial aid.

Also, explore extensive 2015-16 scholarship opportunities at Grand Canyon University, as well as outside scholarship opportunities.

 

Additional resources for more information:

www.finaid.org/fafsa/maximize.phtml
www.money.cnn.com/pf/money-essentials-financial-aid/index.html
www.forbes.com/sites/johnwasik/2014/08/18/five-top-secrets-to-college-financial-aid/
www.finaid.org/loans/
www.finaid.org/scholarships/

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Seniors: What You Need to Know About the ACT and SAT

If you’re excited to apply to college (Lopes Up!), you’ll have to meet certain requirements, such as meeting a minimum ACT or SAT score.

The ACT is a national college admissions exam that tests students in English, math, reading and science. The SAT is a globally recognized college admissions exam designed to test students on how well they can apply knowledge of reading, writing and math. ACT and SAT scores are typically combined with high school performance (GPA) to evaluate students and determine admission decisions.

Although both tests serve as college admissions predictors, each test measures distinct constructs, according to ACT.org.

ACT vs. SAT

The ACT tests high school students on achievement related to high school curricula, whereas the SAT tests students on general verbal and quantitative reasoning, explains ACT.org.

The Princeton Review Assessment (PRA) identifies the following seven differences:

  1. ACT questions tend to be easier to understand. Understanding the SAT question, before even starting to solve the problem, can be time consuming.
  2. The SAT emphasizes vocabulary more heavily.
  3. The ACT includes a science section that tests reading and reasoning skills upon given a set of facts. The SAT does not include a science section.
  4. The ACT writing test is optional and not included in the composite score. The SAT essay is required. (Keep in mind, many schools require a writing score with the ACT score.)
  5. The ACT math section tests more advanced math concepts and includes trigonometry.
  6. The SAT is broken down into 10 sections, whereas with the ACT, you tackle one content area entirely.
  7. College admissions typically focus more on performance of specific sections of the SAT. Conversely, college admissions look at the overall ACT composite score.

Registration

ACT

Register online by visiting actstudent.org. The ACT also offers information on test dates, fees, test centers, test prep, scores and more. Visit The ACT to create an account and start the registration process.

SAT

Visit the SAT website to register for the exam. By registering online, you’ll choose a test date and test center. You’ll receive immediate registration confirmation, as well as 24-hour registration access to print or correct your admission ticket. In addition to registration, SAT also offers practice and scoring information.

Students can also register for both tests by mail. For the ACT, students who are younger than age 13 or cannot pay by credit card must register by mail.

Juniors and seniors can take the ACT and SAT. Most students take the exam during junior year and can retake the exam during fall of senior year to raise their score.

Grand Canyon University Requirements

If you’re applying to be a full-time student at the GCU campus, you have to submit official high school transcripts with a cumulative, unweighted grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or above.

Submitting ACT or SAT scores is a second option for admission eligibility. Students must meet the following:

  • ACT: 19 (GCU reporting code 0092)
  • SAT: 920, including math and reading scores only (GCU reporting code 4331)

ACT and SAT scores may also be help determine academic merit award consideration.

For more information, visit gcu.edu/admissions and click on Admission Requirements.

Honors College Eligibility

Incoming freshmen applying for the Honors College at Grand Canyon University must also meet the following standardized testing requirements to be honors-eligible (in addition to a 3.8 weighted or unweighted GPA):

  • 27 composite ACT score OR
  • 1200 math and verbal SAT score

Visit gcu.edu/Honors to learn more.

Additional resources for more information:

www.actstudent.org/faq/what.html
www.sat.collegeboard.org/about-tests/sat
www.act.org/solutions/college-career-readiness/compare-act-sat/
www.princetonreview.com/college/sat-act

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Summer Checklist for Soon-to-Be Seniors

Attention Class of 2016:

Lope by pool_150Your senior year is finally here (well, almost)! Your junior year was likely spent working hard to keep up your GPA and participating in extracurriculars. The work doesn’t end here, but you’re definitely in the home stretch. College applications are right around the corner and there’s no time like the present to start thinking about where you’d like to be when next summer rolls around.

To help steady the course, Grand Canyon University has compiled a summer checklist for soon-to-be seniors. Consider this the first pit stop in a road map to college (and beyond).

START TESTING

Sign up to take the SAT and/or ACT as soon as possible. Taking them now will give you enough time to retake the exams in the fall if you want to shoot for a higher score. Many colleges, including GCU, consider college aptitude scores when awarding scholarships.

  • GCU Reporting CodesCampus Tour_150
  1. ACT: 0092
  2. SAT: 4331

HIT THE ROAD

Start by making a list of all the college campuses you’d like to visit. These should be schools you’ve already researched in detail.  Whittle that list down to four or five top choices and try to coordinate visits this summer. Depending on geography, time and funds, you may be able to hit several schools in one trip.

Campus visits are a tremendous help when deciding which school is right for you. By being on campus, you’ll be able to really “see yourself” there next year–or not.

DO YOUR JOB

If you do not have one already, consider applying for a part-time job. It’s a good idea to start saving money now in order to ease the transition to college. Plus, employment is a fantastic resume boost and proves your responsibility and independence to college admissions teams.

Speaking of building your resume, think about taking a summer course at a local college or university. In addition to looking like you’re serious about your future, you’ll likely be able to get college credit for each course you take.

  • GCU offers dual enrollment to students wishing to get a head start on their college degree.

START RESEARCHINGStudy_150

Narrow down your top picks and organize all the application deadlines and requirements. Put them on the calendar (in ink!) so you won’t miss a deadline.

In the meantime, start researching scholarship opportunities. While schools may offer you institutional scholarships, there are literally thousands of outside or private scholarship opportunities also open to you. Start searching online for scholarships you qualify for and apply—it might just pay off big time.

For more information about Grand Canyon University or to apply, contact an admissions representative at 800-800-9776 or campusadmissions@gcu.edu.

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Asking the Right Questions: Which University is the Right Fit for Your Student?

Ask QuestionsSometimes finding the right college can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. There are literally thousands of choices out there, each with a different feel, academic reputation and social scene. It can get overwhelming, fast.

To help your student avoid some of that anxiety, you can help them narrow down their choices by asking the right questions. Start by asking your student what they are looking to get out of a college experience:

  • What are your primary reasons for wanting to attend college?
    • Have your student complete this sentence: I want to go to college because _______ (ex. I want to be academically challenged, I’m looking for the traditional “college experience” of living on my own)
  • What do you want to major in? What type of work do you think you want to do after college?
    • Someone interested in becoming a software engineer will need to consider different programs than, say, someone who wants to be a teacher.
  • Will you be more comfortable at a larger or smaller university?
    • “I’m not afraid of getting lost in the crowd of a large school” vs. “I want the more personalized, attentive experience a smaller school can offer.”
  • Where do you want to study?
    • Do you see yourself traveling far from home or staying close? Are you looking for a more urban experience, right in the middle of a big city, or would you do better in a rural college town?

Once your student has marked off what they’re NOT interested in, they can start focusing on what they ARE interested in. Help your student start compiling a list of schools fitting their specifications. Then, get in touch with an admissions representative for those schools and ask them for information about:

  • Academics
    • How long does the average student take to complete their program?
    • What is the average class size?
    • Are the instructors all faculty? Are these faculty focused on teaching or on research?
    • What type of support is offered to students? (tutoring services, student services advisor, etc.)
  • Financial Aid
    • What’s the average financial aid package?
    • Can the school provide a breakdown of exactly what I’ll owe out of pocket?
    • Are scholarships renewable?
    • Are there student jobs available?
  • Student Life
    • Are freshmen required to live on campus?
    • Are there many commuters?
    • What types of activities are offered on campus? (sports, intramurals, clubs, spirituality, etc.)

Once your student selects their top choices, it’s time to start scheduling some campus tours. If possible, schedule a tour while school is in session. This will give you and your student the clearest picture of what it will be like to attend any given university. Pay attention to see if lots of students are hanging around or if it’s more of a ghost town; try to sit in on a class to see how lectures and discussions are conducted; ask to take a peek at a dorm room and eat lunch in the student union to get a taste for campus living. Stop a few students and ask them the most important question of all:

Do you like going here? Why?

Arena LawnIf your student is interested in attending a private Christian university with an active student life and generous scholarship opportunities in a place with over 300 days of sunshine every year, Grand Canyon University may be the perfect fit!

GCU offers a private Christian education at an affordable rate. With more than 150 academic programs, GCU has something for most everyone. Our classes are led by faculty members who are experts in their respective fields and who are here to teach, not conduct research. Approximately 8,200 students enrolled in campus classes in fall 2013. We also offer an active campus life, 22 Division I sports teams, intramurals, mission trips and campus events.

We invite you and your student to experience GCU for yourselves by attending Discover GCU. This is your student’s opportunity to experience college life firsthand in a safe, supportive environment. For more information, visit gcu.edu/Discover.

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STEM Opportunities and Highlights at Grand Canyon University

GCU Grand Canyon University Students in Chemistry Lab in Phoenix, AZAt GCU, we’re committed to developing highly skilled future professionals for the fastest-growing fields in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Our dynamic new engineering, computer science and information technology programs are designed to help meet the needs of the rising STEM workforce dominating our world today.

In addition to degree programs and robust curricula, GCU offers various STEM opportunities, including scholarships, summer camps for hands-on experiences and challenging team events, such as the STEM Ultimate Showdown and AzHOSA competitions.

The following highlights ways students can explore a future in STEM fields and celebrates outstanding 2014-15 student achievements in the College of Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET).

STEM Scholarships

GCU offers $1,000 STEM scholarships per academic year for students interested in an engineering or technology program. Scholarships are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Qualified applicants must be admissible to GCU and enroll in one of our computer science (CS), information technology (IT) or engineering programs.

Learn more by visiting gcu.edu/ApplySTEM or calling 855-428-5386.

STEM Summer Camps

We’re passionate about encouraging students to explore opportunities in growing STEM fields, even outside of the classroom at an early age. At GCU, middle and high school students can learn about how STEM integrates into daily life by participating in STEM Summer Camps at the GCU Phoenix campus.

STEM Summer Camps challenge students to solve problems and create new innovations, engage students with hands-on activities and motivate students to pursue STEM-related opportunities.

One-of-a-kind experiences await at any the following STEM Summer Camps:

  • STEM Futures is designed to provide high school students with a glimpse into what STEM professionals do during their daily jobs.
  • (June 8-11, 2015 or July 13-16, 2015)
  • STEM Experiences creates fun and challenging STEM experiences for middle school students, encouraging them to think outside the box.
  • (June 15-18, 2015)
  • Girls in STEM exposes middle and high school girls to STEM career opportunities in a fun and comfortable environment.
  • (June 22-25, 2015)

Get details about GCU STEM Summer Camps at gcu.edu/STEMSummerCamp.

Ultimate STEM Showdown

The Ultimate STEM Showdown challenges teams of four high school students (and one teacher or sponsor) to design a winning apparatus for the College of Science, Engineering and Technology labs. Teams will also present and answer questions about their design. Finalists will be required to present their project at GCU’s Health Sciences, Engineering and Technology Day on Friday, Nov. 6, 2015.

The top prize includes $2,500 scholarships for students, a $10,000 grant for the team’s school provided by GCU and more!

  • Registration opens online: July 27,2015
  • Deadline to register online: Aug. 24, 2015

Request more information at gcu.edu/STEMShowdown.

STEM Student Achievement Highlights

It’s been a successful first year for the College of Science, Engineering and Technology marked by noteworthy student achievements ― including many accomplishments facilitated beyond the classroom curriculum. Despite the rigorous and challenging nature of the work, students exhibited an incredible degree of enthusiasm, excitement and engagement.

Student achievements during the first semester include:

  • Innovative Computing (iC) Club formation
  • Brinkster field trip
  • Launched code clinics
  • GCU CloudLab pilot with iC Club

Student achievements during the second semester include:

  • Internship placements
  • iC Club project initiatives
  • Configured and deployed Windows cloud-based servers and SQL Server relational database for GCU CloudLab – Academic Cloud Computing Laboratory
  • Developed Python programming proficiency (15 programs)
  • Configured dual operating system (Windows & Linux) for personal computer
  • Industry expert Q&A presentation forums

Discover featured STEM programs at gcu.edu/CSET.

GCU AzHOSA

Grand Canyon University Arizona Health Occupations Student Association – Future Health Professionals (GCU AzHOSA) helps prepare students pursuing a career in health care and/or a health care degree for graduate school. As the largest pre-health organization on campus for CSET majors, GCU AzHOSA also provides leadership, volunteering, internship and networking opportunities.

In early April, a team of 19 biology students won nine gold, eight silver and two bronze medals at the AzHOSA state competition in Tucson. First-place students earned top honors in Pathophysiology, Medical Innovations, Biomedical Laboratory Science/Health Care Issues, Forensic Medicine, Medical Terminology, Nursing Assistant and Physical Therapy. GCU’s chapter will head to nationals June 24-27 in Anaheim, Calif.

Interested in joining? Visit gcu.edu/clubs-and-organizations/AZHOSA for more information or contact GCU AzHOSA at gcuazhosa@gcu.edu.

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Empty Nesting 101

The transition to college may be overwhelming, thrilling and even nerve-wracking for your child. Parents often feel exactly the same way.

empty-nest_150While your son or daughter is busy buying new extra-long sheets for their residence hall bed and daydreaming about on-campus events, you may be feeling anxious and gloomy about them leaving home. What you’re experiencing is called Empty Nest Syndrome. And it’s completely normal.

Empty Nest Syndrome is not a clinical diagnosis. It’s a very common phenomenon in which parents experience feelings of sadness and loss when a child leaves home. You may be outwardly encouraging your child to embrace independence, but internally you are concerned they no longer need your daily care.

The good news is that your student’s future classmates all have parents working through the very same emotions. It’s OK to feel sadness, but it’s also important to acknowledge the many benefits of empty nesting—get excited about having some extra time to yourself after 18 years!

To soften the blow of move-in day, read through Grand Canyon University‘s parental guide to empty nesting. We’re here to help you navigate your child’s college debut.GCU_Move_In-181_150

  • Accept the Transition: Do not bury feelings of sadness–face them head-on. Accept that this is not going to be easy, but it is going to happen. Once you acknowledge your own feelings, you’ll be able to move on and get excited for what lies ahead.
  • Help: Your child may want to flex their independence more than ever, but make sure to join in the preparations every once in a while—help them pack; offer to go to the store for dorm room essentials; dole out advice on dealing with a new roommate. Recognize that you’re still needed, just in different ways.
  • Stay Positive: Rather than dwell on their inevitable departure, focus on the excitement you feel for your son or daughter. Going to college is a great accomplishment, and you should feel both pride and eager anticipation for all the things your child will accomplish in the years to come.
  • Plan Ahead: Instead of wallowing, try to embrace all the new changes. Life will certainly be different, but it doesn’t have to be bad. Think about the extra time and energy you’ll have to devote to yourself. Now’s the time to plan for new career opportunities, hobbies you let fall by the wayside and relationships that may need a little extra TLC.
  • Seek Support: If you’re still having a difficult time dealing with an empty nest, don’t be afraid to seek out help. Lean on loved ones for support and find others who have gone through this before.

At Grand Canyon University, parents are an essential part of the campus community. Parent Connection is a great way for parents to stay informed of campus news and engage in campus life. While you may not be around every day, you can still remain an active part of your student’s life.

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The FAFSA Rundown

Understanding FAFSAWelcome to 2015! The New Year is well underway–and that means it’s time to have your senior fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) ASAP!

The FAFSA will determine your expected family contribution, or the annual amount you’ll be expected to pay toward a college education. If the cost of attendance exceeds your expected contribution, you will be eligible for need-based loans and grants.

The 2015-16 FAFSA became available on January 1. The sooner you get started, the better–completing the FAFSA early will put your student will be at the head of the line for many of the first-come, first-served aid programs.

The application process sounds a lot more daunting than it actually is. It should take no more than half an hour to complete. The key is PREPARATION.

At Grand Canyon University, we’ve compiled a FAFSA checklist for filling out your application online. And remember, GCU’s admissions team is available to answer questions and help guide you through the process.

  • FILE YOUR TAXES FIRST: Grand Canyon University encourages you to complete and submit your 2014 taxes early. This will help ensure that your student receives the correct amount of aid for which he or she is eligible.
  • FREE IS KEY:  It shouldn’t cost you a penny to fill out the FAFSA—after all, the word “free” is right there in the name! If an outside company or website charges you a fee to help you fill out the application, you are not dealing with the official FAFSA website. Most, if not all, of the help you may need is available at FAFSA.ed.gov.
  • GATHER ALL NECESSARY FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS:  Depending on your family’s financial situation, you’ll need to collect the following information BEFORE filling out the application:
    • Student’s Social Security number and driver’s license number (if applicable)
    • Parent’s Social Security number (if your child is a dependent and you are signing with them)
    • Student’s alien registration number (if not a U.S. citizen)
    • Student and parent’s federal tax information and tax returns, including IRS W-2 information, along with any IRS 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ forms
    • Untaxed income records (e.g., child support, interest income, veteran benefits)
    • Bank and investment account statements, including savings/checking accounts balances and stocks/bonds
  • LIST YOUR COLLEGES:  The schools you list on your FAFSA will use your information to determine the types and amounts of financial aid for which your child is eligible, so it’s important to list all schools to which your student has applied. Each school has a unique code assigned to them that you’ll enter on your application. GCU’s SCHOOL CODE IS 001074.
  • UTILIZE THE DRT:  Save time and effort by using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool, or DRT, online. The DRT transfers data from your most current tax return (in this case, 2014).
  • SIGN & SUBMIT:  Sign the FAFSA. Once you see a confirmation page, you’ll know you’ve reached the end. Success!

NOW WHAT?  Once your FAFSA is submitted, the Office of Federal Student Aid at the U.S. Department of Education will send you a Student Aid Report, or SAR—a summary of the FAFSA data you submitted. Look this over to ensure no mistakes were made. Then, the schools listed on the application (and ultimately, those your child is accepted to) will individually calculate aid and send your son or daughter an electronic or paper “award offer” specifying how much money your student is eligible for in the form of grants, loans and work-study funds.

For more information on the difference between these forms of financial aid or the FAFSA, contact an admissions representative at 800-800-9776 or CampusAdmissions@gcu.edu, or visit gcu.edu/Admissions/Tuition-and-Financing/FAFSA.php.

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Living On Campus: The Ultimate College Experience

Camelback Living RoomLiving on campus is one of the most exciting facets of college life. In addition to the convenience of being a quick walk away from all your classes, there’s no better way to meet new people and learn independence and responsibility. Simply put, campus living is an experience unlike any other.

At Grand Canyon University, living on campus is a very popular option, whether it’s your first year or your fourth! Freshmen housing in fall 2015 includes The Grove–a community of four brand new residence halls. These halls feature suite-style accommodations, meanSedona Courtyarding you’ll share a bedroom with one or two roommates and a living room with two or three suitemates. Acacia Hall, Ironwood Hall and Willow Hall are open to all freshmen, while Juniper Hall has some reserved housing for students joining our Honors Institute.

If you’re looking for something closer to the heart of campus, check out Hegel Hall or Canyon Hall, which both also offer suite-style accommodations. Ocotillo Hall, built in 2014, will be used for housing overflow. To help make living on campus possible for our students, prices for room and board packages start at just $6,050 for the academic year.

Living with fellow freshmen will give you the benefit of living with your peers, surrounded by other students who are going through the same experiences and transitions as you during your first year at GCU.

At GCU, students are given a lot of freedom when picking out where they’d like to live on campus. Get the scoop on using our online housing application by browsing our handy how-to guide. The application allows you to browse available housing areas and select which room you’d like to call home. You can also request to be someone’s roommate directly through the system, allowing you to decide who brings the mini fridge and who brings the posters.Camelback Girls Bedroom

Don’t miss out on the ultimate college experience of living on campus. You can’t reserve your residence hall until you’ve enrolled so contact an admissions representative at 800-800-9776 or CampusAdmissions@gcu.edu today to jumpstart the process!