Yearly Archives: 2022

I was Honored to be Quoted on U.S. Regarding FAFSA Changes

I was happy to share my advice on the FAFSA with education writer Sarah Wood for her article on upcoming changes to the 2023-2024 FAFSA. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly called the FAFSA, opened October 1 with a few tweaks to financial information questions.

My take of the FAFSA as quoted by Sarah was:

“I tell all my families, no matter what their income level is, you must have the FAFSA on file. Because even if you don’t qualify for need-based aid, submitting the FAFSA and the CSS Profile is how you get in line for merit scholarship opportunities,” says Charlotte M. Klaar, director of Klaar College Consulting, LLC, a career and college preparation service.

I want to emphasize that this applies to some colleges and not at others. The primary reason that everyone should have a FAFSA on file is to protect yourself against a catastrophic change in the family’s financial status.  I also tell families to fill out the FAFSA as soon as possible, because money is given on a first-come-first-served basis.

The 2023–24 FAFSA changes include removing the Selective Service and drug conviction eligibility questions. These questions – which were featured up through the 2022-2023 form, but no longer taken into consideration – were removed entirely this year. I told Sarah I agreed with removing the drug question, and here’s what she wrote:

“Kids can be kids and they do things that sometimes they are not going to do as adults,” Klaar says. “I think holding a student responsible forever and not allowing them to be able to access financial aid because they made a mistake is wrong. We need to give people the opportunity to rehabilitate themselves.”

The gender identification question was also removed. from the FAFSA.

Read the complete article  here.  

My Early Bird Comprehensive Services can start as early as ninth grade, to help your student get and stay on-track! Please contact me to discuss your individual situation.

FREE Upcoming College Essentials Workshops

Join us to learn little-known secrets of paying for college, college funding, and essential college information to skyrocket your student’s school year at several FREE upcoming events! 

Tuesday, Aug. 23, 7 – 8:30 pm 

First, I will join Michael Russell of the College Funding Coach to bring you an information-packed session designed to prepare you for what you need to know to plan your student’s college career.

This in-person session will be at The Studios@LOOM, 118 Academy St., Fort Mill, SC  29715.

You’ll learn:

• Why parents should start thinking about college when their students are in middle school.

• Why it’s essential to have a plan for every year of H.S. and what college admissions officers value.

• Advice on PSAT, SAT and ACT tests.

• How to make the college dream a reality…and still retire one day!

  The speakers and topics will be the same as for the July 12 webinar.

Register today! It’s FREE and the first 10 registrants will receive a copy of my book:  Book - College Admissions Simplified College Admissions Simplified: A Guide for the College-Bound!

There is plenty of free parking available at The Studios@LOOM

Register today HERE.

Wednesday, Aug. 24, 12 – 1 p.m. Lunch & Learn

This is also In-person event at The Studios@LOOM, 118 Academy St., Fort Mill, SC  29715

At this Lunch & Learn I will discuss:

  • Why parents should start thinking about college when their students are in middle school.
  • Why it’s essential to have a plan for every year of H.S. and what college admissions officers value.
  • Advice on PSAT, SAT and ACT tests.
  • Insights on the FAFSA, grants & financial aid.
  • Register today! It’s FREE and the first 10 registrants will receive a copy of my above book.

Register today HERE.

For questions about any of these events, contact me  at [email protected]. 803-487-9777.

I look forward to seeing you!



How to Set Boundaries and Value Your Work as an Independent College Counselor

“Educators often forget that they have a right to be compensated for their expertise and should not be made to feel badly about that.”

In all the years that I have taught and mentored both new consultants and school-based counselors, the one issue that has not changed is their perception that we are somehow not allowed to value our own time or experience. This is probably a result of education having been a primarily female occupation for so many years. We are taught that we must be nurturers and that what we do is more ministry than work. Hogwash!! What we must do is value ourselves and what we offer to others. It all comes down to boundaries.

When a new consultant is returning to the workforce after years of keeping a home, raising children, volunteering in a myriad of capacities without which our educational systems would fold, she naturally feels that she has “not been working.” In fact, she has been the CFO, COO, and often, CEO of her family and is the one to whom all questions are directed.

The days of Barbara Billingsley in her pearls and shirt-waist dresses pushing the vacuum in high heels have passed! Women are a driving force in the economy. We just don’t recognize our worth. According to Forbes (2019) women make up more than half the U. S. population and control 85% of consumer spending. The U. S. Board of Labor Statistics reports that about 40% of women earn more than their husbands. So why are we so hesitant to take the economic reins in our own businesses?

The issue is a simple one: Confidence.

We need to remember who we are and what we have accomplished so that we can understand what we offer to others. We need to set boundaries for clients, family members, friends, and anyone else who thinks our time is theirs to waste. In the past, I was one of those people who found it very difficult to say no to anyone, particularly when the request was for the good of an organization or person in whom I believed.

As businesspeople, we try to keep the needs of the client (our students) at the forefront of our minds. Unfortunately, these students come with parents for whom the perception of what is good for the student may be somewhat warped by their own needs and ambitions. Since the parents are the ones paying our fees, it makes it a bit difficult to tell them that they are delusional, and to continue doing what is best for the student. This difficulty is part of why they hire us. On some level, they know that they are not the best judge of the student’s accomplishments and that the process is not what it was when life and college admissions were simpler.

How do we set boundaries in our practices? What are the benchmarks?

  1. Don’t allow anyone to abuse you! There is no “unlimited” access to you. You have working hours and procedures that you maintain. If you don’t work on Sunday, for example, don’t return emails or answer the phone on Sunday!
  2. Have a healthy respect for yourself. If you are being asked to do more than that which is included in your contract, smile and point out that the request is out of the scope of your services. You can also mention that they can add the task to the contract if you offer it as an option.
  3. Your boundaries extend to your family. Because so many of us work from a home office, our families and friends think that we can drop everything to attend to their needs. You must ensure that your spouse and children understand that you are working and while doing so their needs must be put on hold unless someone is bleeding.
  4. Have a clear contract for your services including both what you will and will not provide. This is crucial to the success of your business. Clear delineation in simple language that describes each of your service offerings coupled with disclaimers. For example, from my contract: “Dr. Klaar’s responsibility to this agreement DOES NOT include completing or filing of applications, or financial forms.”
  5. Make time for yourself! As James Sama says in 10 Signs You Have Healthy Emotional Boundaries: Setting Boundaries for Self-Love, “Your mental and emotional needs are just as important as everyone else’s – and what’s more – if you don’t maintain your own well-being, you’ll never be able to support anyone else’s.”
  6. Don’t give up what isn’t asked for. When a prospective client family says, “That’s a lot of money!” Smile and point out that the process is a lot of work and that the benefits of having someone knowledgeable about the process is very valuable.
  7. Go with your gut. If you truly suspect that the family in front of you cannot afford but really needs your help, ask them what elements of the contract they can do on their own and what parts do they need you for. Price accordingly. Give them the dignity to pay you something even if it is a pittance. Don’t go outside the scope of what you have agreed.
  8. End toxic relationships. This includes relationships with clients, parents, family members, colleagues, or anyone else who does not recognize that you are not a doormat. Finally, if you need the courage to get these things done. Feel free to call me and whine. I will stop answering when I feel that you are taking advantage of me!

5 Things You Need to Know About College Planning Now!

College admissions today requires careful planning to improve your student’s admissionprospects and save your family thousands of dollars!

In this complimentary in-person Lunch and Learn about “5 Things You Need to KnowAbout College Planning Now!”  you’ll discover:

  1. Why it’s a good idea to start planning as early as middle school!
  2. How your student can become the kind of applicant colleges want: those who havechallenged themselves with a rigorous curriculum and great grades.
  3. The importance of school and community activities on a student’s resume (and why more isn’t better).
  4. Why keeping an open mind on selecting colleges can result in a successful college experience.
  5. Financial savvy – FAFSA, grants & financial aid.

When:  Wednesday, April 20, 12 noon to 1 p.m.

Where:  The Studios@LOOM, 118 Academy St., Ft. Mill SC  29715

This Lunch and Learn session is complimentary, and a light lunch and a beverage will be served.

Register Here!

The first 20 people to register will receive a free paperback copy of Dr. Klaar’s new book, “College Admissions Simplified: A Guide for the College-Bound!”  In this book I’ve taken the knowledge gained from working with hundreds of students since 1995 and put it all into an easy-to-read guide for students and parents!

Register Here!

College Admissions Simplified: A Guide for the College-Bound.

“The college process today is marked by dramatically lower acceptance rates, obscure bases for those getting in over others with similar records, and tuition that rivals the cost of the average American home,” writes Mark Sklarow, Chief Executive Officer of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, in the Forward of my new book, “College Admissions Simplified: A Guide for the College-Bound.”

It really does bother me that today’s students and parents have such angst over college admissions. Independent Educational Consultants like me, also called college consultants, can provide invaluable knowledge and experience in guiding students through admissions (although students must always own the process and do the actual work). But let’s face it – not everyone chooses to or can afford those services.

That’s why I wrote this book – to provide a step-by-step roadmap to walk students through every aspect of college admissions. I also provide important tips to help parents support their teens, but without taking over. It’s crucial that the whole process, from high school classes to grades, testing, researching and visiting colleges, filling out college applications, writing essays, and getting letters of recommendation, belongs to the STUDENTS.

My book also helps students think about aspects of today’s overall admissions process that are very important, but which that they may not be familiar with, such as creating a cohesive application so colleges will see them as a well-rounded person. Another purpose of the book is to help students realize that there is a college that’s a good fit for everyone, and that success means succeeding and thriving wherever you go. College is not about trophy-hunting. It’s about you, the student, and meeting your goals for this life-changing experience.

Here’s what “College Admissions Simplified” will teach you:

• How to Begin – Explore your goals, your character, your strengths, what kind of future life you want and more.

• Affording College – In-depth information on FAFSA and the FAFSA Simplification Act of 2020 and how it affects your situation. Plus, lots of information and resources on scholarships, grants, student loans and figuring out what your family can actually afford.

• Your Academic Record – an in-depth look at how college admissions officers look at your courses, your grades, your ranking and more. That process is a lot more complicated than you might think!

• Extracurricular Activities – It used to be the more the better. That’s no longer true; colleges are looking for more depth and activities that reflect who you are as a person.

• Your Personal Preferences – there are many subjective, non-academic factors that affect which colleges fit you best. These include geographic location, campus setting, student body size and profile, extracurricular opportunities, average class size, faculty involvement and much more.

• Campus Visits – a successful college visit requires planning, so this chapter gives you a guide to make your visits much more beneficial. By consistently following this guide, you’ll be better able to compare colleges, apples-to-apples.

• Your College List – the previous chapters cover topics that are fundamental to building your College List. Given this foundation, this chapter will teach you how to create a three-tiered College List of about 15 colleges that best fit you.

• Your Application—Strategy – because admission is competitive, most colleges have adopted a holistic approach to analyzing applicants. Admissions decisions rely not only on your academic record but on non-quantifiable factors as well. These may include interviews, essays, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular activities, among others. this chapter guides you in developing an effective admissions strategy to present your best possible self to colleges.

• Your Application—Theme and Hooks – the way you communicate your strategy to colleges is through your theme. This is a brief statement of the reasons why you’ll make an outstanding addition to a college’s freshman class. To make it more effective, your story should be subtly woven into your essays, college interviews and letters of recommendation. Ideally, an admissions officer will like your application so much that s/he will use it to advocate for you in committee!

Hooks are when you have a truly outstanding talent, aptitude, or skill. A strong hook may help you get admitted to colleges that might otherwise be just out of reach; it may also result in scholarship offers from colleges that highly value what you have to offer.

• Your Application—Letters of Recommendation – these present firsthand information about you that’s not available elsewhere in your application. They will have a positive effect on admissions if you treat them seriously rather than just items to be checked off your list of things to do. This book shows you how.

• Special Populations – This chapter is a guide for applicants who qualify for special considerations in selecting and applying to colleges, such as minority students, those with disabilities, LGBTQ+ students and more.

• Resources for Your Research – this final chapter gives you comprehensive and accurate information about colleges and universities.

A final note from Dr. Klaar:

If I’ve introduced some concepts in this books that you’re unfamiliar with, such as themes and hooks, this whole college admissions process may sound intimidating. But rest easy! The reason I named my book College Admissions Simplified: A Guide for the College-Bound,” is that I break it all down for you in digestible-sized chunks that you can actually follow. Get it here today, and start your journey!