school students with the desire, but not necessarily the money, to attend
college have an advocate to help them through the application process and
negotiate for better financial aid packages. Circle of Neighbors, national
community service organization is conducting workshop/interviews to get students
and their families on track to achieving their goals.
"The organization makes families aware of all of the little things they can do to make college more affordable," said
the Neighbors Director who conducts interviews
and workshops. "It's a process, just straight forward strategic planning and it
With thousands of members in the United States, Circle of Neighbors conducts
personal interviews with aspiring college students and works as an advocate to
get those students into the schools they want at a price they can afford, the Director
Based on the student's interests, academic records and financial profile,
Neighbors puts together a personalized letter of recommendation and sends the
information to the schools that fit the student's needs and interests.
"We use the interview and the profile to evaluate which schools would be the
most interested in the recruitment of that particular student," the Director said,
adding that the organization works with more than 3,000 U. S. colleges and
The organization encourages students to look
into schools, which suit their interests - regardless of cost. "I've seen a lot
of students operate under the misconception that they can only go to schools
they can afford, " the Director said, "Actually some of the more expensive private
schools are often the most generous. We see a good number of students attending
private and out of state schools for less money than attending a local community
college." Tapping into that generosity is the organization's specialty. After
sending off applications and financial profiles, students begin receiving
financial aid award letters that show how much money the school would give them
if they attend. While many students make their college decisions based on the
award letter, Circle of Neighbors views the letter as merely a starting point.
"We use the letter as a negotiating tool," the Director said. "We use letters from
other schools as leverage to help students attend the school they want and get
as much financial assistance as they can."
The Director, a father of four said his children got about 85% of the money we
needed by working with Circle of Neighbors. "Most parents are like we are and
have been unable to put away the $60,000 or so needed for college for each
student," he said. "But there is a way to use resources so parents don't have to
borrow from their home equity or tap into their retirement in order to make
college dreams a reality."