top of page
  • Writer's pictureJason Flurry, CFP

How to get your kids into the colleges of their dreams without bribes, cheating, or breaking the law

Recently we’ve had another scandal where people have been caught performing illegal activities so that their kids can get into some of the best colleges in the country. You’ve probably seen these things from time to time and the fact that people are willing to lie, cheat, and bribe people with big bucks to get what other people have to work very hard for just goes to show how competitive colleges become and how complicated the process of getting in and making college affordable actually is.

Whether it’s a matter of people having more money than they have good sense, or people just being ignorant of how to beat the colleges at their own game, pushing the limits of what’s legal and ethical to get your kids into college is never a good idea. There are far too many ways to take advantage of what’s already available in the way of proven strategies and tactics to risk doing something foolish. And you know your sin will always find you out. After all, you reap exactly what you sow – maybe not in the same season that you sow it, but you always pick what you plant and you always pick far more than you plant, so it makes sense to do things the right way, doesn’t it?

A bribe and a blessing You know, it’s probably far more commonplace than any of us realize how people make donations to certain organizations, trade favors, or send generous thank you gifts to people with influence in college circles. That kind of stuff has been going on in every area of life for a long time. And, while this sounds a little controversial, maybe that’s not a bad thing under certain conditions. Let me explain.

If someone has the money to make a generous donation to a college so their son or daughter can attend, when maybe they wouldn’t have been a reasonable prospect on their own, let them make that donation with the understanding that it has to go toward a scholarship for some other deserving student. If their child wasn’t good enough to get in on their own merits but the parents were willing to overpay to give them that opportunity, it’s likely that particular student will struggle in college and not thrive is much as someone else who’s worked diligently to get there. That diligent person’s efforts should be rewarded, not only with an acceptance to the college, but also with a generous merit scholarship to help them continue their growth. And, whether that scholarship comes from the school’s endowments or from someone else who’s willing to fund it, both students and their families get what they want - and it hasn't cost the school anymore on out-of-pocket basis to complete the transactions.

You may be thinking, “Well, if that was the case, then anybody could get into some of the top colleges in the country, even if they were deserving.” That would be the case if everyone could afford to make that kind of financial commitment. But, college is already expensive enough. There’s roughly 1 ½ trillion dollars in student debt in the country today and only two out of every 100 people turning 65 today are financially prepared for retirement. So it's reasonable to think that there’s only a very small percentage of the population who could financially afford to do something like this, but there are millions more who could benefit from these elite family’s determinations to get their kids into the schools they desire.

After all, these families are blessed financially enough to be able to pay the full sticker price for college and then some. And, if you look at how financial aid is distributed at most elite colleges and the US today, the distribution of money is already being done in a very similar fashion. See, roughly half of the people who attend get very generous amounts and financially grants while the other half gets nothing. That means the half that is paying sticker price is paying for both halves! And, if you can afford to do that and you’re willing to overpay, why not help someone else out in the process who may be stuck in the middle financially and struggling with how to pay their college bills?

You still need a game plan Please understand, this is not a strategy I endorse for getting into the college of your dreams or making college affordable. It’s just a thought on how to take something negative and turn it into a positive. And, we know that this kind of thing goes on far more than any of us realize. This latest situation is just another example of the people who got caught cheating. How many more haven’t been caught? And even worse, how many hard-working, well deserving kids got cheated out of a position and a great opportunity at a wonderful college because someone who didn’t belong there took their spot?

For those of us who don’t have such deep pockets to overpay for college, there are really only three options most people consider, with the first two being most commonplace.

The first option for people who can't afford to pay for college is to have their kids settle for less than they deserve at the college they are able afford. Maybe their son or daughter does qualify for admission at a top-level school, but without the means to pay for college or the understanding of how to qualify for need-based grants, they turn down those offers and go to a less prestigious college, probably that’s close enough by so that they can even live at home. This is unfortunate because there are tons of scholarships available for good students whose families struggle financially. You just have to learn what those colleges are looking for in the admission application process and then avoid making mistakes in the financial aid forms to maximize your results.

The second option is for people who may be able to afford something for college, but not nearly enough to make college affordable. The other part of the situation is for people who have the wrong type of college list and without realizing it miss out on great opportunities that could have made college for more affordable. For people in the situation, they have to understand how to properly analyze their financial situation and free up cash flow that allows them to pay for college without changing their lifestyle, going into deeply debt, or jeopardizing their retirement. They also have to know which colleges offer merit scholarships and what’s needed to qualify. The final part is knowing how to take advantage of anything that’s offered from a need-based endpoint and use those grants plus merit scholarships to bring the price of college down as low as possible. With these insights, many more people could get into colleges where they are being turned down now and save a fortune by paying only their fair share of the college bill.

The third option is the best option because this is where people build a game plan on how to get their kids into the best colleges possible for the least amount of money possible. Whether they work with the college planner, use a College Planning Specialist like us, or learn how to be to college at their own game through their own research, people who take this approach that only get better results with admissions, scholarships, and financial aid, they also enjoy the journey more because they know they’re doing the right things in the right way. They don’t have to result to bribes and cutting corners to get what they want. They do their homework and become educated consumer’s, which allows them to be more confident and more certain as they approach this and other important milestones in their family’s life.

The choice is yours Depending on what type of college you looking at for your kids, you may decide to handle everything on your own. If you just need some help along the way, a regular college planner may be enough to get you through the tight spots. However, if you really want to make sure that you’re not missing anything important, making critical mistakes that could cost you big time, or overpaying for college by leaving money on the table, you should really consider working with the College Planning Specialist. Just like in any other field that requires specific knowledge, practical experience, and proven insights, the College Planning Specialist can help you make sure you’re taking full advantage of every possible strategy and save you a ton of time, which of course is very valuable too!

Spend your money however you want to realize that what goes around comes around. There are far too many positive things, good and beneficial things, you can do with your money instead of cheating to get your kids in college. Take the time to design a game plan that meets your needs and gives you advantages that will save you money and provide wonderful opportunities for your kids. And get some help along the way if you need it. Anytime you doing something for the first time, it’s easy to make mistakes. Even if you’ve done this two or three times already, the colleges still have the upper hand. They do this for a living and they are very good at it!

You can’t afford to make mistakes, and with an experienced College Planning Specialist on your team, fortunately you don’t have to.



bottom of page