If You Need Financial Aid For College, Start Your FAFSA and CSS Profiles Now!

In order to receive financial aid for college, students must submit the FAFSA and/or CSS Profile. While all public and private colleges use the FAFSA, about 400 private colleges also require the CSS Profile. After you complete these online reports, the FAFSA and CSS Profile will send Student Aid Reports (SARs) to each of your colleges. You can start this process as early as October 1st and the sooner the better. Colleges won't give you a financial aid awards letter until they have received the FAFSA and/or the Profile.  They need this financial information before they make recommendations about what the parents and students could afford to pay for college.

You don't need a CPA to complete these forms, but they can be tricky.  Here are some tips to make it easier for you.


This application is online and everyone completes the same form. Billions of dollars are available in federal aid and Pell grants. This application is free.

1.  FAFSA Application Form (click on "start here")

2.  FAFSA Hotline: (800) 433-3243

3.  FAFSA Email:

4.  FAFSA Worksheet (to see what questions you'll be answering)

5.  FAFSA YouTube Videos 

6.  FAFSA Financial Aid Toolkit

7.  FAFSA Tips to Avoid Common Errors

CSS Profile:

This application form is individualized based on the colleges that you are applying to and how you answer the questions.  The information is used to determine how much the college will give in aid from their college funds, not federal funds. There is a nominal fee to file the CSS Profile plus a small fee for every college.

1.  CSS Profile Application Form

2.  CSS Profile (List of Colleges)

3.  CSS Profile Hotline: (844) 202-0524

Get started on this right away -- even if you haven't received your W4s or financial records. Remember, the sooner they have your information, the sooner each college will be able to make financial aid offers.

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Online Bachelor's Degree From An Ivy League College?

Finally, an ivy-league college will offer the first online bachelor’s degree!  The University of Pennysylvania (UPenn) will open an online program for undergraduates studying liberal arts starting fall 2019.  This is a game changer; and I believe it will be instrumental in making sure that a quality elite education can be had by everyone.  While the tuition is about $1000 less per course for the online classes, this is the beginning of a movement to keep education affordable.

UPenn is expecting about 500 students to enroll in their first online bachelor’s degree program next fall.  Of these students, they speculate that the students will be adults ages 25+. When students can continue to live at home in their home states and receive an ivy-league diploma, we’re going to see a shift in what it costs to get that coveted degree. 

With tuition at elite colleges exceeding $70,000 per year, parents really can’t afford to pay for college and prepare for their retirement anymore.  I’m hopeful that colleges realize that they need to start reducing tuition, offering online courses, and preparing students for the work force. Maybe UPenn is leading the way to encourage both ethnic and socioeconomic diversity in college education.


Do We Need Liberal Arts Graduates?

If you aren’t a STEM genius and worry that you won’t ever have a good paying job, a new study says that more employers are seeking college grads with liberal arts degrees. Finally! First of all, can you imagine a world with only STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) people?  Umm, no!  Who would do the communicating, marketing, writing, and education (just to name a few jobs)?  The good news is that employers are recognizing how they really do need employees who can communicate, lead, and problem solve – in other words, people with degrees in humanities, social sciences and interdisciplinary programs.

The fear that Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics would eliminate humans from the non-STEM portion of the job market has been tamed as employers realize that the integration of “human” and technical skills are necessary for future jobs.  While this is encouraging for those not interested in STEM careers, colleges need to redesign liberal arts curriculum so that it prepares students with the multitude of skills they will need in their careers. Colleges need to help students translate what they are learning into specific skills for the ever-changing labor market.

Liberal arts graduates earn on average $55,000, which is $20,000 more per year than high school graduates.  Those liberal arts students who get advanced degrees, earn on average $75,000 per year.  While these students don’t earn as much as STEM grads, the good news is that the gap is closing and liberal arts graduates aren’t destined to be baristas forever.


Island Actually Disappears Due to Climate Change

If you have ever doubted that the ocean is rising, this may surprise you.  A small island off the northeast coast of Japan is now completely underwater. That's right! It's gone because of the rising sea level. The Japanese Coast Guard will confirm this in the next few weeks.

When I was a kid, we could walk down the beach during low tide in Malibu twice per day. That was a given -- every 12 hours. But over the past few years, the tide has risen so high that there have been months when you couldn't walk down the beach at all. GASP!

Not sure why this isn't making frontpage news. We have a CO2 problem and it's not going away on its own.


15 Ways To Save Money During The Holidays - And Beyond!

With the holidays here, and budgets bursting at the seams, check out this interesting blog on creative ways to save money. 

Whether you lower your credit card interest or sign up for Ebates, you’re more likely to stay on track with your budget if you embrace a new system to save money BEFORE the holidays. 

Success begets success.  So even if you save $5 per month today, you’re more likely to make smarter choices in other areas – saving you even more money. 


ProjectMerit Can Be The Key To College Admissions

One of the best things a high school student can do to improve their chances of getting into their top colleges is to do a project.  With grade inflation making a 4.0 (or 5.0) GPA commonplace, students need to do something to stand out.  It used to be that playing a sport and an instrument would be enough.  Then volunteering for a charity or shadowing a professional would help beat the college admissions game.  But today, colleges are looking for students who delve into and stick with something that fascinates them.  Colleges want dynamic students who might design innovative devices, solve climate change, or find medical cures.

Top colleges admissions committees aren’t impressed that students take 16 AP classes or compete in 3 sports. Yup! They don’t believe students who claim to be president of 4 school clubs and members of 10 others. It’s not about quantity, but about the quality of the activity.  Colleges want to see students explore ideas and pursue them.  They’re looking for students who start their very own project – not begrudgingly do something that is assigned by a teacher, required by a club, or completed by their parent. 

Check out projects that give students the edge in the college admissions process.

By brainstorming about doing a project, students explore areas of interest.  Then they carve out their niches and do something substantial. I’ve just published the 3rd edition of Beat the College Admissions Game with ProjectMerit to walk students through the entire process of doing ProjectMerit.  These projects will help build confidence and open the doors to colleges and scholarships!

Trump Administration Wants To Protect Sexual Predators on Campus

In a time when women are stepping up and speaking out, our Education Secretary Betsy DeVos just proposed to “protect” students accused of sexual misconduct while undermining victims’ rights. Seriously? One step forward, two steps backwards.

DeVos just released a proposal to add due process protections for accused students. Rather than stepping up protections for victims of sexual assault or misconduct, she is pushing policy that better protects the accused sexual predator.  Remember Brock Turner?  He’s the Stanford student who was convicted of 3 counts of felony sexual assault back in 2016.  Because the court believed that a harsh prison sentence would “ruin his life,” he got off with just 3 months of jail time.  When did we start worrying more about the perpetrators than the victims? 

This proposal also requires that colleges be responsible for investigating misconduct that occurs within the colleges’ own programs and not in off-campus college activities or events. If a victim confides in a person who is not the “proper official on campus,” the college will not be responsible for investigating the case.  Wow! The colleges will be allowed to set their own evidentiary standard for discovering these findings, and what’s worse, they could cross examine victims – the reason so many victims of assault don’t speak out against their perpetrators in the first place.

So colleges have less responsibility to protect and investigate their students, and victims will face scrutiny for standing up for their rights. Washington Sen. Patty Murray, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said Devos and President Trump were “trying to take another step toward sweeping the scourge of sexual assault under the rug.”


Free Childcare for Millennial Parents

If you’ve got a toddler or preschooler, finding quality childcare is probably an ongoing concern. Millennials spend more time with their children than any previous generation, and with their flexible work schedules, they need childcare that works for them. When my girls were toddlers, I set up childcare in my home so I could be with them yet still have the ability to work in my home office. By having childcare in my home, I customized a program that my girls loved and met all of my high expectations for academics, socialization, and exercise!

First, I created a curriculum that made learning how to read, do math, and play with science FUN! Then I added games, activities, and field trips.  Knowing what my girls loved to do, it was easy to create a monthly plan.

Second, I invited a couple of children (the same ages) to join my girls. Their families paid tuition, which paid for the teacher who ran the program – right here in my rec. room.  So, I got FREE childcare in my home! It was amazing. 

Third, I set the schedule to meet my needs.  Because I worked from home, I didn’t need childcare at 6:00 am.  Instead, my girls slept in.  I set hours for preschool to work around my schedule. It worked so well that I had the teacher come early to make breakfast, do the laundry, and get dinner started.  After the program ended, she would clean the house and prepare dinner.

I guess I was a millennial before my time! By having free childcare in my home, I enjoyed being with my girls throughout the day and I ran a successful business in my home office.  I just wrote the 2nd edition of my book that shows millennials how to set up a program for their families.  Check out The Millennial’s Guide to Free Child Care in Your Home.

Trick or Treat on Saturday Night?

Back in 1999, 10-year-old Jaclyn (my youngest daughter) told me that Halloween should be on the Saturday BEFORE October 31st.  She wanted to be able to trick or treat until midnight, sort and trade candies with her friends, and gorge herself on her favorite Sour Patches without having to worry about doing homework and going to school the next day.  Apparently she was on to something.

Jaclyn created petitions, got local dentists and politicians to endorse her plans, and gathered friends to join her in trick or treating on the Saturday before Halloween.  She held banners at major intersections in Santa Cruz, passed out fliers in neighborhoods, and rallied her friends.  Jaclyn was interviewed by several TV stations, radio stations, and newspapers. That was in 1999. 

Fast forward to 2018, 40,000 people just petitioned President Trump to change the date that the US celebrates Halloween to the last Saturday of October. Although Halloween is not a federal holiday, these petitioners – just like Jaclyn back in 1999 – are starting a movement to change the day, regardless of the jurisdiction that makes these decisions (it’s a social holiday). I hope they get some traction because it make sense to trick or treat on Saturday night!

Why Don't People Vote?

Could it be that they are intimidated by the decisions that are up for grabs during elections like this one?  I know I felt overwhelmed as I sat down with the piles of postcards, booklets, and voter registration packets. Just getting to the polls and voting is half the battle.  The other half is wading through the propaganda and understanding how to vote in their best interests.

I would like to see a non-partisan group weigh in on the candidates and measures in a quick, simple chart that is easy to read and understand.  I’d like to see who is funding them, who endorses them, and what ramifications will result from them. In other words, I don’t think people have the time, knowledge, or bandwidth to make informed decisions for every category on their ballots, so let’s make it easy for everyone. 

Understanding the truth behind every candidate and measure is intimidating to everyone, and this is why people don’t vote!

Until someone invents the perfect system, please check out  You can enter your address and zip code and see what will be on your personal ballot.  You can click all text in blue to read further information on all measures, candidates other items on your ballot.