An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Ari Worthman, director of college counseling

Pictured clockwise from top left: Director of College Counseling Ari Worthman, Director of Equity and Inclusion Debbie Bensadon, College Money Method CEO Paul Martin, and Associate Director of Admissions/Financial Aid Programs Director Tearon Joseph.

Like several of my new colleagues, I started my career in college admissions, in my case, as an admissions officer at my alma mater, Haverford College. In 2004, annual costs, both at Haverford and other private institutions, were more than $40,000 for the first time. Pundits speculated that the higher education bubble would finally burst. Admissions officers worried if they would fill their classes. But the bubble didn’t burst. Colleges did fill their classes. And most selective colleges still do, even today when the cost of many private institutions hovers around $80,000, and the cost of Washington’s public universities is between $24,000 and $29,000.

As the cost of college has risen, so has the number of families needing financial aid. While Lakeside’s college counseling office has always supported families through the financial aid application process, changing financial aid policies and the different ways that colleges award financial aid have made the process increasingly difficult to navigate.

Over the last few months, Lakeside’s college counseling office, diversity, equity and inclusion team, and financial aid office, have been working together to identify ways to best support families in preparing to fund a college education. We’re excited to announce a series of new online workshops led by CEO and founder of College Money Method, Paul Martin. These workshops will be open to all Lakeside families and will support them in preparing for and navigating the college financial aid process.

As our teams explored Martin’s programming, we were impressed by the depth of his knowledge, his commitment to making college financially accessible, and his creative approach. Inspired by his own journey of navigating the financial aid process in the 1990s — the first in his family to attend college, Martin and his family applied for financial aid without any support or guidance — Martin has developed an educational approach to financial aid for families whose students are in grades 5 though 12. His workshops are interactive: not only does he allow extensive time for questions, but participants gain access to workbooks and other resources that Martin designed. It’s the most comprehensive financial aid programming we’ve found, and feedback from peer schools who have implemented Martin’s programming has been extremely positive.

Information about each of this year’s workshops is below. While each workshop is targeted at specific grade levels, Lakeside families with students of any age may attend any workshop. We strongly recommend that any family wondering about their ability to pay for college participate. Students are welcome to participate, too. All workshops will be recorded and available on our college counseling resources page, accessible from Veracross, shortly afterward (workbooks and other resources will also be available on our resources page).

Families can never begin planning too soon for the cost of college. We hope you’ll consider participating in these workshops.

2021-2022 Workshops

Nov. 4, 7-8:30 p.m.: Succeeding with your financial aid applications. Recommended for 12th grade families.

This workshop supports parents and guardians with a clear understanding of the entire application process, including which financials need to be reported, for increased accuracy and reduced anxiety in the application process. Senior families previously received information about this workshop via email.

Jan. 20, 7-8:30 p.m.: Learning how the financial aid process works and exploring your financial fit. Recommended for 5th – 9th grade families.

This workshop provides families with an orientation on the various college financial aid policies and how colleges use expected family contribution and financial need to determine aid so that families understand their future financial aid potential.

Feb. 10, 7-8:30 p.m.: Building financial fit and affordability into your school lists. Recommended for 11th grade families.

This workshop supports students in taking a data-driven approach to researching each college's financial aid practices and policies to make more evidence-based decisions for financial fit.

March 3, 7-8:30 p.m.: Evaluating student loans and borrowing for your college investment. Recommended for 11th and 12th grade families.

This workshop supports students and families with a detailed understanding of how student loans work, what personal finance principles to use when considering loans, and how to right size their borrowing based on future financial goals and earning potential.

March 29, 7-8:30 p.m.: Comparing financial aid awards and considering appeals. Recommended for 12th grade families.

This workshop supports families with a framework on how to standardize and compare disparate financial aid awards to understand their full four-year costs, as well as provide guidance on when it is appropriate to appeal and how to do so successfully.

May 18, 7-8:30 p.m.: Understanding how colleges assess your financial situation and aid eligibility. Recommended for 10th grade families.

This workshop supports families with in-depth knowledge of how the applications' (FAFSA and CSS Profile) formulas assess their income and assets so that families can make decisions earlier in high school to increase their eligibility.

Ari Worthman is Lakeside’s director of college counseling. Reach him and other members of the team at collegecounseling@lakesideschool.org. Read more about how Lakeside is supporting students and families during times of change, through restructuring the college counseling office and establishing a school-day testing program.