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4 Tax-Saving Strategies for College Funding

Tax CheckIt seems there are as many ways to save for college as there are colleges. It pays to do some research and understand ways you can not only save for your child’s education, but also save on your yearly tax bill.

Depending on how much college costs, it’s possible to use tax strategies to save as much as you spend on college tuition (particularly in the long run). Here are a few tactics to consider:

      1. Income shifting.  This is the practice of “shifting” earned and unearned income to your child, so that you avoid paying taxes on that income.  Your child may have to pay some taxes, depending on the amount and the age of your child, but will be subjected to a much lower rate.  Note that unearned income (gifts) tax rules allow for a $13,000 annual exclusion per person, or $26,000 on joint returns.
      2. Standard deduction and personal exemption.  Parents can claim a personal exemption for their child as long as they provide more than half the child’s support.  If your child uses their own income as a personal support (more than half), then they can claim the exemption instead.
      3. Tax credits.  There are several tax credits your child can claim, including the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC)—worth up to $2,500 a year per student—the Hope Scholarship Credit, the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit, or the tuition and fees deduction.  However, keep in mind that you can only use one.
      4. Watch out for the Kiddie Tax.  “Kiddie Tax” is tax on unearned income to minors.  It applies to children under age 19 and full-time college students under the age of 24.

Strategies used for each family will undoubtedly vary.  Some strategies, such as income shifting, only makes sense for a family who will not qualify for need-based financial aid.  Income shifting may save taxes, but also might consequently decrease financial aid eligibility.

Curious which of these strategies might work for you?  Contact me for advice specific to your family’s situation!

Westface College Planning can help navigate the financial aid process from start to finish.  To learn how we can help you call us at (650) 587-1559 or sign up for one of our Tackling the Runaway Costs of College Workshops or Webinars.

Photo Credit: Great Beyond


Life After High School: 4 Alternatives to College

Going to college right after high school is not for everyone and that is okay. The important thing is that you are constantly learning and growing as a person. Actress Natalie Portman once said, “I don’t love studying. I hate studying. I like learning. Learning is beautiful.” Learning is beautiful and people learn in different ways. Some may find learning in a four-year college, while others may find it in volunteer work. That is the beauty of learning–it is everywhere. If you feel like college may not be the right path for you, here are four alternatives to college.

 

1. Volunteer

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

-Mahatma Gandhi

If you are unsure about your future and the idea of college, volunteering could be an option for you. Not only is it a great way to give back and do some good in the world, but it also teaches you about compassion, humility and selflessness. Through volunteer work, you can learn about social issues, and gain a great amount of life and work experience.

Here are a few programs that might interest you:

AmeriCorps: Here, you can volunteer to become a mentor, build homes, clear trails and many more. Members serve in nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based groups. There are many programs within AmeriCorps such as the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) and AmeriCorps State and National.

Habitat for Humanity: In this program, volunteers build homes worldwide for those in need.

If the two above does not interest you, check out Idealist.org for more volunteer opportunities.

Lastly, look around locally and see if there are any organizations that you would like to get involved with.

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Get Financially Fit

weightsYou may tough it out on the football field or dive for volleyballs on your school team, but there’s far more to self-development than physical fitness.  As you channel your focus on college, there’s no better time to dive past physical fitness.  Get in shape for college by being financially fit.

1st Step: Map out your “Meal Plan”

You need to start somewhere.  Just like you would allocate your goal, including calories per day and ultimate desired weight, you need to set financial goals.  Calculate a rough estimate of how much your top colleges will cost per year, along with daily or weekly spending.  For example, you may limit yourself to $100 per week on essential expenses, and another $50 for extra items.

Even if you feel as though you won’t qualify for a grant or scholarship, apply!  Unlike a loan, you won’t be obligated to pay back either, so why not give them a shot?  Equally as important: Don’t forget about the FAFSA!  Again, it’s free money in your pocket for college!

2nd Step: Dive in Head-First & Track Your Progress

Without even the smallest inkling of understanding about your daily habitual spending, it’s difficult to know what you consider necessities versus other wants that may easily be cut out of your budget.  For the first two weeks of your college life, track your daily expenses.  Thankfully, technology will give you a hand with that.  Apps make your budgeting experience a whole lot easier.  Mint and LearnVest not only sync with your bank account, they even allow you to separate your purchases by category.

3rd Step: Treat Yourself with a Cheat Day

As you train yourself from day to day, you may end up bogged down, unmotivated because the finish line seems so far out of reach.  Every few weeks, allow yourself to let loose and purchase something a little past your budget, whether it’s a nice lunch at a restaurant or a new pair of shoes.  Think of it as a reward.  It should give you a much-needed boost to energize your spirit and feel proud of your accomplishments so far.

Westface College Planning can help navigate the financial aid process from start to finish.  To learn how we can help you call us at 650-587-1559 or sign up for one of our Tackling the Runaway Costs of College Workshops or Webinars.

Photo Credit: Louish Pixel


The Gravity of the CSS Profile: Why You Should Apply

astronautsGet ready to complete the CSS Profile!

While not as commonly used as the FAFSA, for those colleges that do use it, completing the CSS Profile boosts your qualification for more financial aid, and who doesn’t want some extra money toward their college fund?

You may not realize it, but the CSS Profile is required by over 300 colleges.  It is very likely that one or more colleges in your personal top 10 list will need of the CSS Profile as well as the FAFSA in order to be considered for all available financial aid.

Be prepared: Colleges that request the CSS Profile include those from one end of the spectrum to the other, from the well-known (Santa Clara University), lesser known (Whitmore College), large (Boston University), to small (Pomona) private colleges; even a few public colleges (University of Michigan) opt for the CSS Profile.

How is the CSS Profile Different than the FAFSA?

1)    Unlike the FAFSA which is spearheaded by the federal government, the CSS Profileis administered by the College Board.

2)    While the FAFSA is FREE, the CSS Profile requires a cost for submission ($25 for the first college and $16 for each additional college).

3)    The CSS Profile is now available online for fall 2015 admission.  Some colleges have deadlines as early as November 1, 2014 for Early Action and Early Decision applications.  The FAFSA only becomes available on January 1, 2015.

4)    Every college requires your submission of the FAFSA for consideration of anygovernment financial aid.  Colleges that ask for the CSS Profile require it to determine your eligibility for various non-government avenues of financial aid.

5)    Are you part of a two household family?  The FAFSA only asks for financial and household information for the custodial parent household.  The CSS Profile also inquires about financial and household information for the custodial parent household. In addition, many colleges request that the Noncustodial Profile be separately completed by the noncustodial parent.  For those colleges, an Expected Family Contribution will be calculated for both households.

6)    Colleges that call for the CSS Profile also will likely request copies of tax returns, W2s, plus supplemental forms for every business and farm.  Make sure you know the requirements for every college.  It’s important!.

Is it worth the time and effort to complete the CSS Profile and send in all your financial information?

YES!  Many students who do not qualify for government need based aid do qualify for college-specific financial aid.  You may be one of them!  These institutional funds lie dormant awaiting claim for many students who have income and assets that are too high to qualify for government funds.

Remember, you have to apply to even be considered.  To illustrate, here is a statement on Santa Clara University’s website: “To be considered for the full range of SCU-awarded scholarships and grants, applicants are required to complete a secondary application, the College Scholarship Service/Financial Aid PROFILE.”

Check the financial aid web page for EVERY college on your list.  Discover which explicitly require the CSS Profile and Non-Custodial CSS Profile in addition to the FAFSA.  Confirm the related deadlines and submit the application before the cut-off date.

Applying for both the FAFSA and CSS Profile (where requested) guarantees your maximum potential amount of gift aid for college funding from sources other than a student loans!

Westface College Planning can help navigate the financial aid process from start to finish.  To learn how we can help you call us at 650-587-1559 or sign up for one of our Tackling the Runaway Costs of College Workshops or Webinars.

Photo Credit: Johnson Cameraface


Financial Aid Calculators: One You’ve Heard About, Two You May Not Have

calculator3Seniors: As you search for necessary information required for the FAFSA, you most likely have ran into the idea of financial aid calculators, but what are they and how do they work?

Generally speaking, there are three calculators that colleges use: the FAFSA, Profile and Consensus, all of which abide by a set of rules:

    • Your family’s income and asset amounts are added into a calculator every year.
    • A chunk of your parent’s income (a minimal amount based on the size of the household) and a portion of their asset (typically $20,000 to $50,000 based on the age of the oldest parent) are set aside.
    • Once the entire calculation is complete, you end up with your “Expected Family Contribution” (EFC), defined as the estimated amount your family is expected to put toward your college expenses.
    • In the case that the EFC falls under the cost of college, the difference is your financial aid eligibility.
    • Keep in mind, Room + Board + Tuition + Fees = Cost for the child attending college.  Your EFC will be lower (not quite half) for each child if you have two children attending college at the same time.

So What About These Three Calculators?

As you’re probably aware, the vast majority of colleges utilize the FAFSA’s financial aid calculator.  Another formidable calculator is spearheaded by the College Scholarship Services Profile, which configures income and assets differently, aptly named “the Profile”.  While it is less common, about 300 colleges maintain it as their calculator of choice.

Finally, the third arose from a Section 568 Presidents’ Group, but only 24 elite colleges use this calculator.  It’s known as Consensus.  Considering calculator preferences vary between institutions, you will want to know which is adopted by every college on your list.

Major Differences

FAFSA      Profile Consensus
Overall Far more laid-back when compiling assets.  Stricter.  Stricter.
General Assets Excludes primary home value, along with your farm and small business. Counts businesses, farms, equity of the home, annuities and 529s. Includes the same as the Profile, but only considers home equity up to 120% of parental income.
Exemption Exempts a family from asset consideration if parents file a short-form tax return, totaling less than $50,000 of gross income (You should consult your parents about this one).  No exemptions.  No exemptions.
Separated Households Grants leniency toward divorced parents where the low-income parent holds primary custody. Grants no leniency toward divorced parents (Both incomes are judged). Grants no leniency toward divorced parents (Both incomes are judged).
Parent Assets Assessed at 5.6% (i.e. for every $100,000 in assets, your EFC is increased by $5,600). Assessed at 5% Assessed at 5%
Student Assets Assessed at 20% Assessed at 25% Assessed at 5%

 

Which One Should I Use?

That all depends upon your desired colleges.  While it’s safe to say that you’ll be crunching you and your parent’s numbers in the FAFSA, you may also need to employ the Profile or Consensus.  Make sure you know which formula (and financial aid applications) every college on your list uses.

If anything else, estimate your EFC with all three calculators (the FAFSA’s estimator is called the FAFSA4caster).  You may be surprised to find out that you may qualify for more financial aid at a college which uses one formula over another.

Westface College Planning can help navigate the financial aid process from start to finish.  To learn how we can help you call us at 650-587-1559 or sign up for one of our Tackling the Runaway Costs of College Workshops or Webinars.

Photo Credit: Lincoln Blues


5 Thoughts to Confidently Shape Your Senior Year

thoughtsSoon-to-be Seniors: While you rightfully have college on the brain, don’t unknowingly dismiss the last year of your high school career.

Visualize yourself stepping onto campus as an official senior.  Keep these thoughts in mind as you traverse classes, time alongside your friends and all the wonderful life experiences you’re about to embrace:

  1. Teachers love when you ask questions and other students will thank you.
    You aren’t the “annoying student” if you ask questions.  In fact, many classmates let their shyness get the best of them and avoid raising their hand at all, even if they are truly lost in the muddle of information.  If you’ve been one of those quiet students, now is the perfect time to break the habit, even if it means only asking one question a week. Eventually, speaking up will seem like a breeze.

    Asking questions to clarify or spark a new avenue of discussion not only will potentially help other students, but also stick in your teacher’s mind.  Who knows; it may be your path to confirming a mentor or a letter of recommendation.

  1. Every other student has the same fear: rejection.
    If you harbor the fear about not being accepted to a single college, then you’re in the same boat as all your other classmates.  Don’t fret!  Of the 4,000 colleges across the United States, you will get accepted to at least one.  Just don’t forget to send out plenty of applications!
  2. Equal measures of work and fun will level your balance.
    This is true for any stage of life.  If you’ve seen or heard of the famous line “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” (The Shining, 1980), you’ll know exactly what we’re suggesting.  Work too much and you’ll go crazy; too little will veer you off in the wrong direction.  Feel free to accept party invitations, but don’t sacrifice completing homework or projects as a replacement.  Weaving both parts into your valuable time will guarantee success.
  3. Goodbyes are definitely not the end of the relationship road.
    It’s inevitable that your closest friends will most likely attend school in another city, if not another state.  Luckily technology is on your side.  With texting, calling and even video chatting, you can easily keep in touch with your friends.  They’re just as afraid of the future as you are, and that commonality will bond your friendship across time.
  4. Step outside of your comfort zone.
    Whether you’re painfully shy in social situations or admittedly uncoordinated at a hobby you like, take this opportunity to traverse the unknown.  Compliment someone if you have a hard time beginning conversations or pursue a possible passion that seemed out of the question in the past.  We’re confident you’ll surprise yourself.

It’s easy to say “Stay positive”, but these should give you concrete ideas about how to focus your mind in the right direction.  We hope all you upcoming seniors enjoy your last year!

This blog was provided by Westface College Planning. For more tips and information, sign up for a free College Funding workshop or webinar or call us at (650) 587-1559.

Photo Credit: Sridhar Srinivasan

 


How to Make the Most Out of Your Summer Break

Boy Jumping out of the OceanSoon-to-be Seniors (and Juniors): We’re smack dab in the middle of summer, and now that you’ve soaked up some sun and clocked in plenty of R&R, it’s time to maximize your free time to its fullest.

While you’ve been rightfully savoring your vacation days, you don’t want to leave your mind rusty or completely fall behind on college planning. Once you’re required to again wake up at 7am each day and deal with classes on top of tedious homework assignments, your brain will most likely feel too burnt out to even consider college planning. With over a month still ahead of you, there’s plenty of time to space out activities that will exercise your mind muscles and get you one step ahead of the college planning process.

  • Indulge Yourself in a Few Books

    No, we’re not suggesting any lengthy Charles Dickens’ novels. You’ll get to those in English class (if you haven’t already), unless that’s your cup of tea, then go for it. If you aren’t an avid reader or classic literature enthusiast, try one that’ll give you some food for thought as you prepare for college, such as these listed on Washington Post’s “A Summer Reading List from College Admissions Counselors:

o   “How to Be a High School Superstar: A Revolutionary Plan to Get into College by Standing Out (Without Burning Out)” by Cal Newport

o   “Going Geek: what every smart kid (and every smart parent) should know about college admission” by John Carpenter.

o   “Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation” By Parker Palmer

Then relax with a light-hearted love story or a unique, thought-provoking tale:

o   “The Opposite of Loneliness” by Marina Keegan

o   “The Guilty One” by Lisa Ballantyne

o   “The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World” by Michael Pollan

o   “Endurance: Shackelton’s Incredible Voyage” by Alfred Lansing
Want a few more suggestions? Check out the books listed on NerdWallet’sFavorite 2014 Summer Reading Programs.

  • Volunteer

    Take a minute to think about your deepest passions and interests. Feeding the homeless? Caring for the elderly? Whatever drives you, there’s likely a volunteering option that’ll boost your community as well as strengthen your inner spirit… and not to mention, your resume!

    Not sure where to start? VolunteerMatch customizes your search options by region and category (Advocacy & Human Rights, Animals, Children & Youth, and so forth).

  • Spruce Up Your Activities Resume

    Speaking of resumes, summer offers a great opportunity to not only build your activities resume, but also tally your current and past work. It’s very similar to a job-oriented resume: past history, skills, utilizing action words, but with less detail. It’s a quick way to show off your experience and passions.

You deservingly will relish in the splendor of 5-6 weeks school-free, but also think of summer as an open opportunity to mix relaxation with improving your skills and adding to your repertoire. It’ll not only strengthen your personal life, but also solidify your path to college.

This blog was provided by Westface College Planning. For more tips and information, sign up for a free College Funding workshop or webinar or call us at (650) 587-1559.

Photo Credit: Dmitry Kichenko


Stimulate Your Mind — Take a Summer Program!

SunflowerWith summer just around the corner, high school students may first bask in the glow of three months away from the stress of school.  Once that subsides, particularly for ambitious students, they’ll wonder if any options exist to keep their mind stimulated, prepare them for their future careers or possibly explore avenues they have yet opted to tread.  So what’s the answer?  Summer programs and internships!

Science? Art? Communications? There’s a Program for All of Them!

For our California pupils, here are a few opportunities orchestrated by colleges over the summer, extracted from the Los Altos High School’s College and Career Center that may interest them:

Academy of Art College in San Francisco
“Six-week intensive art program offers up to four classes either online or onsite in San Francisco. Get a glimpse into college life, meet other young artists and explore a variety of art & design fields. Note: Students staying in Campus Housing must take four on campus classes.”

COSMOS (California State Summer School for Math and Science)
UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC San Diego and UC Santa Cruz

“Cosmos is a four week residential academic experience in math, science and engineering for top high school students. Students can participate in one of the many clusters of the COSMOS program at any of the above UC campuses. Some sample clusters are Under the Sea: Exploring Marine Organisms and Their World, Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering: Robots and Flying Machines, Medical & Veterinary Responses to Infectious Diseases, and Environmental Sciences and Experimental Ecology.

Students apply to one of the four University of California’s COSMOS campuses. — UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC San Diego and UC Santa Cruz. Each campus may have a different focus.”

Digital Media Academy
“For grades 10 – 12.  Hands-on, project-based digital media, filmmaking and visual effects, music and audio production, photography and art design, programming and app design and robotics courses at twenty university locations, including Stanford University, University of Texas, South Carolina and San Diego.

Internship programs are also available, including:

Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program
Palo Alto, CA

“An 8-week summer internship program open to high school juniors and seniors. Hands-on research under guidance of a one-on-one mentor. Choose from immunology, stem cell biology, neurobiology, cardiovascular medicine and cancer biology.”

J. Craig Venter Institute Internship Program
San Diego, CA

“Offers motivated high school students the opportunity to nurture their interest in science by participating in cutting-edge genomic research at the Institute. Interns are assigned to a mentor who is a member of the Institute’s faculty or senior staff. Each experience is tailored to the participant’s education level and capabilities. Interns are required to present a summary of their research/work experience to the staff at the conclusion of their internship.

There are also administrative internships available in legal, communications, library and environmental health and safety areas.”

ZOMA Worldwide
Palo Alto, CA

“An international internship program for high school students based in various industries in Shanghai, China. Must have completed sophomore you and have strong academic records and proven leadership abilities. Chinese language is not required by students enrolled in Chinese language coursework is preferred. Internships are available in the areas of high tech, marketing, public relations, advertising, law travel and hospitality and architecture. Bilingual resident assistants are on-site 24 hours for supervision and assistance.”

For a full list of both programs and internships alike, click here.

For juniors and seniors, summer programs aren’t the only way to best optimize your vacation: Schedule a time to take the SAT and ACT, e-mail your favorite teachers to request letters of recommendation and continue to whittle down your list of college choices.  In-between R&R, the possibilities to flesh out your student’s summer 2014 are limitless.

This blog was provided by Westface College Planning. For more tips and information, sign up for a free College Funding workshop or webinar or call us at (650) 587-1559.

 

Photo Credit: Matteo Angelino


Building a Smart College Budget in 5 Easy Steps

Cutting CouponsSeniors: Keeping track of your everyday costs can be mind-boggling for students not particularly savvy at organization.

Financial preparation is one of the most valuable assets you’ll ever learn.  It not only teaches you irreplaceable skills, it also paves your bright path to adulthood.  A solid foundation will secure your independence.  No ambitious college-bound student would want to rely on their parent’s meager allowance forever.  The earlier you begin financial planning, the better!

If you create a clear-cut budget and stick to it, you’ll stay far ahead in the “paying for college” game.  But you may agree this all sounds wonderful and still ask yourself, “Where do I start?”  Follow these five steps and you’ll map out a game plan for your budget, monthly costs and how to pay for your overall college expenses:

  1. Pick a School.  Determine which school you plan to attend and when you hope to start.
  2. Calculate Expected Costs.  Make a list of all set (e.g. rent) and variable (e.g. entertainment) expenses, then estimate your average monthly cost of living.  If possible, include an emergency fund.
  3. Construct a Monthly Budget.  Using a budget worksheet will help (the University of Illinois provides a straightforward one, but there are many more circling around cyberspace). If needed, consider ways to lower college costs.  Then determine what to include when creating a budget for college expenses.
  4. Determine Fund Sources.  Money for school can come from any number of places. Be sure to explore all your options (parents’ savings, parent income, student income, grants, scholarships, other sources).  Keep in mind all federal loans require a payback with interest.  Weigh the possibility of a subsidized or unsubsidized loan.  If those aren’t the right fit for you, check out private loans.  PLUS loans are also available, but should only be considered after you’ve exhausted all other options.
  5. Calculate What to Borrow.  Available Funds – All Expenses = Your Projected Monthly Income.  This will give you the maximum amount that will need to be borrowed.

Once you’re done creating a budget for college, the real challenge lies ahead: being consistent and staying on track.  Limit your use of credit cards to emergencies and planned expenses.  Track your spending closely and be wary of peer pressure.

Little changes will add up to sizable savings, if you know where to shrink otherwise unnecessary expenses.  For instance, your instinct may tend to crave a fragrant blended coffee as you pass by Starbucks, but brewing a cup from home can make a difference of a whopping $3.  It may seem trivial, but when you’re on a tight budget (and an admittedly avid coffee drinker, to boot), it adds up quickly.  That coffee substitution alone would save you around $20 per week and $80 a month.  Take a look at this handy infographic from USA Today College for more money-saving tips.

Part of the experience of college is to prepare you for real life.  Forming good habits with money now will help you in the future.  Even if you’ve already begun digging yourself in a seemingly endless financial hole, it’s never too late to establish mindful saving habits.  So why not start now?

This blog was provided by Westface College Planning. For more tips and information, sign up for a free College Funding workshop or webinar or call us at (650) 587-1559.

Photo Credit: Tricia Adams


AP Courses… Are They Worth It?

Student reading a bookIt’s the time of the year again when high school students must decide which courses to take for the coming school year.  With college looming ahead, making wise choices is imperative in order to reduce time and money spent on college and to be competitive for scholarship awards.  But, does being “wise” mean that your student sign up for available AP courses?  With numerous articles both encouraging and cautioning AP courses available on the internet, I’ve attempted to summarize both sides below.

What are AP Courses?

AP, or Advances Placement, courses are college-level courses taught in a high school setting designed to challenge students above and beyond a high school level.  The requirements, workload, and exams are designed and regulated by College Board.

The Pros of AP Courses

AP courses are a good choice to consider for students who perform well in honors level courses (A’s and B’s) or for students who get straight A’s in regular College Prep classes and need or desire more challenging material.  Because AP courses are weighted differently than CP courses, students can increase their GPA as well as their class rank.  This could be beneficial when being considered for scholarships.  And, beyond GPA and class rank, taking AP courses demonstrates hard work which is equally, if not more, important to most colleges.

Taking AP courses also offers the opportunity to gain college credit by taking an AP exam.  Students who score above a 3 (on a scale of 1-5) are considered to be qualified to receive college credit for that course upon entering college.  This effectively can decrease the amount of time in college which, in turn, can decrease the out-of-pocket expense.

The Cons of AP Courses

With the rigors of AP courses comes a lot of stress, therefore they are not appropriate for all students; nor is it necessarily appropriate for a student to load up on AP classes that may not interest them just for the sake of increasing their GPA.  Most colleges prefer un-weighted GPAs and some might even request an un-weighted transcript or recalculate the GPA of core classes on their own.  In that case, earning a C in an AP courses might not be looked on favorably by a selective college.  This varies greatly from college to college.

Regarding college credit, that too varies widely from school to school.  Some colleges do not limit the number of credits that a student can bring in with AP courses.  However, other schools are more limiting.  Dartmouth college, for example, recently announced that beginning Fall 2014, it will no longer grant any college credit for AP examinations.

In summary, with over 30 possible AP courses available for high schools to offer, students have more opportunity than ever before to advance their education and potentially save time and money on their out-of-pocket expense for college.  However, a common sense approach to the number and types of AP courses taken should be utilized for each individual student.  Parents need to help their children evaluate what subjects interest them and how many AP courses they can take and be successful at while staying informed of the current policies for their college of choice.

Sources:

http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/ap/about.html

http://www.examiner.com/article/are-ap-courses-worth-the-effort

http://www.nytimes/com/2013/01/18/education/dartmouth-stops-credits-for-excelling-on-ap-test.html

http://www.usnews.com/education/high-schools/articles/2012/05/10/weigh-the-benefits-stress-of-ap-courses-for-your-student

This blog was provided by Emily Kelly of College Planning Relief from their March 2014 e-newsletter.

Photo Credit: UGL_UIUC