Do-Gooder Consulting Homepage

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Fill out the FAFSA THIS January 1st!

(The following article is (c) 2012 by J.P. Paulus. This may article may be reproduced ONLY with the permission of the author.)

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, is the backbone to getting federal and state financial aid for college. If you have a student going back to college, or starting for the first time next fall (or even thinking about it), then you as a family need to fill out the FAFSA, and do it as soon as you can right after January 1st.

A completed FAFSA puts you in line for financial aid, not just on the federal level, but also for states, and other resources. (Scholarships are different category, and need another type of application and a separate article.)

The FAFSA is a key form used by the US Department of Education, much in the same way the 1040 is the fundamental form for the IRS.  After you fill out the FAFSA, you will receive a number called the Expected Family Contribution, or EFC. But rather than the number that you should expect to pay, consider the EFC more like a credit score – a measurement of your financial need. An EFC of 0 (zero) would qualify you for the maximum amount of federal and state aid, if it is available through the school.

In order to fill out the FAFSA, you need to make sure that you go to www.FAFSA.GOV and NOT the FAFSA.COM website. You might not trust the government for many things, but you can trust a .gov website.  Also, there is no reason for you to pay money to fill out the FREE application for federal student aid (which will do).

There are three items that are important to filling out the FAFSA:
1.       Social security cards
2.       W2 Forms
3.       Bank statements
The student needs the social security card, not just for the number, but also the correct spelling of the student’s name on the card. Any mistakes or variations (like a nickname) can cause serious problem. The parent, however, does not need a social security card or number, though it is helpful.

A driver’s license or state ID can also expedite the process.

W2 forms are needed from the parents (and the students, if available). Please note that providing this information does not obligate the parent to pay for any of their child’s education.  And if you (as a parent) feel you don’t make enough money to contribute anything to your child’s education – then you contribution to this section will actually help your child get more financial aid than perhaps if they filed as an independent student.

Bank statements also provide a snapshot of a family’s financial strength.

Parents who filled out the FAFSA back when they went to school need to make sure they have a shift in their mindset. In the “olden” days” of the FAFSA (back when our family filled out the FAFSA), the conventional wisdom was that you filled it out after taxes. The idea was that the paperwork was hard to update and very cumbersome, and you would need to send in copies of forms to “verify” any estimates, which would delay your financial aid. The time, and the opportunity for information to get lost, were very legitimate concerns back then.

With the modern wonders of the web, FAFSA now has a one-click tool where you can download your tax information, as long you filed electronically (such as TurboTax, or a professional service such as H&R Block).  And rather than calculate each student (and each update) by hand, the computer can easily calculate and update information, so financial aid officers actually embrace this method of estimating your FAFSA information.

Students can fill out the FAFSA anytime after January 1. So right after you say “Happy New Year!”, you can do it. Or, more likely, when you wake at 3pm in the afternoon.

This can also be a great event for churches after Sunday service. If you have access to a computer lab, one advisor can help several families through the FAFSA process.

Who should fill it out? Obviously, those going into college next year, but especially returning students, and even adults who are even just thinking about going to college. There’s no obligation to go to a specific college by filling out the form. You can easily change which colleges receive your information. And again, for parents, there is also no legal obligation to pay for the college education, even though you have given your information.

Another reason to fill out the FAFSA: colleges can not give you a financial aid package without the FAFSA being completed. You will also need to have been accepted at that college as well, because good colleges will not offer money to students they don't think will succeed at their school. 

We must emphasize once more, it is vital that students fill out the form as soon as possible, after January 1.

For example, in Illinois, the MAP grant is worth up to $4820. Again, in the “olden” days, the MAP grant money ran out by August (when most schools start their fall semester). In 2012, the money ran out March 23, which is a month before taxes are due (and usually done).

There is much more information that could be shared. But one last note to consider: the FAFSA is just a snapshot of a family’s financial situation. Colleges are aware that things happen. The key to getting exceptions to financial aid (called professional judgment) is documentation. The FAFSA is the prime example of it, but certainly not the limit. Contact your financial aid office if you think the EFC does not accurately reflect your family’s situation. 

Here are important links to see

Individuals who need help with financial aid issues should go to or call 800-4-FED-AID (in Illinois, they can go to or call the Illinois Student Assistance Commission at 800-899-4722 ).

JP Paulus of Do-Gooder Consulting works with churches and nonprofits, and even businesses to help them integrate college access training into their programs. More information is available at

Thursday, October 24, 2013

JP Paulus presenting at 40th Tutor Mentor Conference in November.

Dan Bassill of  Tutor Mentor Connections attended the Illinois College Access Network Conference workshop, "Reaching Out to Religious Groups",and liked it so much that he invited JP Paulus (of Do-Gooder Consulting) and Jeremy Barahona to present again at the Tutor Mentor 40th conference.

The Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference  takes place on November 4, 2013 and will be held at the Metcalfe Federal Building at 77 W. Jackson Blvd in Chicago, Il. 

There are several notable workshop presenters.

Fees for Conference: $80 for the full day but a Group of 3 or more only costs $50 per person

You may also request a Scholarship to pay only a - $20 fee

Contact Tutor/Mentor Institute at to discuss different group rates, or 50% discount half day fee.

For more information and to sign up, go to

We will update this entry with exact time and room location of our workshop.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Upcoming events - November 2013


Here are some upcoming meetings in the next few months. We hope to see you at one of these events:

Tutor Mentor Conference

The purpose of the conference is to connect leaders and supporters of volunteer-based tutoring, mentoring and education-to-career programs with each other. The conference, sponsored by Tutor/Mentor Institute starts 8am on  November 4 (Monday), 2013 at the Metcalfe Federal Building at 77 W. Jackson Blvd in Chicago.

JP Paulus (of Do-Gooder Consulting) will co-present with Jeremy Barahona of PURSUE Scholars. They will present on "Reaching Out to Religious Groups", which was also presented at the 2013 Illinois College Access Network conference. To sign up for this event, or more information, go to

Urban Youth Network

November 7 (Thursday) , 2013 @9am
Meeting location To Be Announced (though most likely, The Lighthouse, 4338 S. Prairie, Chicago IL).  Free breakfast (includes doughnuts and coffee)

For more info, contact Nick Rivera at or see the Urban Youth Network Facebook page.

Illinois College Access Network

The November Illinois College Access Network Meeting will be on Thursday, November 14th , starting at 8am, in the same location as the May  meeting -- 2nd floor atrium of National Louis University, 122 S Michigan in Chicago. The topic will focus on Early College Program at City Colleges of Chicago. Please RSVP by sending an e-mail to

For more entries, see our events web page for details.

We look forward to seeing you at these events.

Monday, October 21, 2013

November 14 = Illinois College Access Meeting

From an e-mail from Illinois College Access Network:
The November Illinois College Access Network Meeting will be on Thursday, November 14th in the same location as the May  meeting -- 2nd floor atrium of National Louis University, 122 S Michigan in Chicago.

8:00-8:40       Light Breakfast and Conversation
8:45-10:00     Early College Program at City Colleges of Chicago
                      Attendees will learn about several opportunities to earn
                      college credit while still in high school - at little or no cost.
                      Focus will be on Dual Enrollment, but speakers will also
                      cover an expanded Dual Credit initiative and Articulated
                      Credit for Prior Learning.  Outcomes of all 3 can be less 
                      time and lower costs to achieve 2 and/or 4 year degrees. 
                      Student success rates for those participate and later
                      matriculate in college will be presented.
10-10:30        Announcements and Networking


NOTE: a new application for membership and accompanying fee
            structure will be available prior to or at the November meeting.
Illinoi CAN has some great FREE breakfast. They are also restructuring, and implementing a new membership system, though at this time, non-members are welcome to attend select events for free. This is an opportunity that only happens every few months. Please consider being apart of it.
See you on Thursday, November 14!

Monday, October 14, 2013

2015 Aldermanic candidates should run NOW (for another office)

Many people are looking forward to running for Alderman (and even Mayor) in the city of Chicago in early 2015.

But in order to be successful, we suggest that you run for office starting now -- and do so for different office.

You can't legally collect signatures for the office until September of 2014. But you can collect signatures for office such as Illinois state representative and state senator.

So why run? There are several reasons why this is a good idea.

The first is that it gives you practice for running for office.  You can see what are the different things you need to do (such as filing, setting up debates, meeting constituents), and how much time it takes.

Also, you can analyze results, especially in the city, and see where you have support, where you don't, and where you might have a chance to win over voters.

As you campaign, you can see who you can count on to help you run, and see what types of weaknesses you have (such as a communication team, someone living in the north side of your district).

Because this isn't your "real" office, you can decide how much time and money you wish to invest in this election. You should put in effort, so you get a taste of reality. But you may then step back and family, job, church and other commitments come up.

It is vital, however, after you have run, to follow up with people and ask them why they didn't vote for you, and what it would take to earn their vote.

Many of the materials you use (such as campaign signs, which should be generic such as "Vote for Do-Gooder Consulting") and your website (which states your general values and issues) can remain in place even after this first election.  You can build awareness over time, especially in-between election periods.

It sounds like a lot of effort, and off your goal. But trust us -- running for one office can help build your credentials and set you up for victory in your desired office.

For more information on how Do-Gooder Consulting can help you, call/text us at 872-222-8008 or e-mail us at

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Hold a FAFSA event after church this year -with help from Do-Gooder Consulting

(See the end of this article for a FREE offer from Do-Gooder Consulting. Click here to go to Do-Gooder Consulting's website.)
This year, New Year’s day falls on a Sunday.  That may seem like a slow day at church, but we here at Do-Gooder Consulting want to challenge you to make it an outreach opportunity that can really benefit urban youth (and many others).
January 1st is the first day to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (more popularly known as the FAFSA). The FAFSA is the primary application for college student aid from not only the federal government, but also state governments and other financial aid sources.
While everyone would like to go home on New Year’s Day (it’s a legal holiday!), it would actually be a perfect time to fill out the FAFSA.
You have to remember that financial aid is like pizza at a party – those who are there when the boxes open up get their choice of slices, and can return any extra food they don’t need. Those who wait while doing “important” things or think that their serving will be there for them when they need it will soon find out that they’ll be lucky if they get anchovies and crust.
And the pizza is getting taken earlier and earlier each year. For example, the state of Illinois has the MAP grant, which gives students up to $4,720 a year in grants.  Traditionally, the deadline has been in mid August, when many colleges begin classes.  But that has changed over the years, such that in 2013, the MAP grant ran out March 3, more than a month before taxes were due.
Things are much different then when we might have filled out the FAFSA, back in the day.  It was all paper back then, and they recommended that you filled out your taxes first. But as we see with the MAP grant example, that’s not practical anymore.
But it’s also something not to worry about, as things have changed for the better through technology. The FAFSA on the web, available at (note: this is NOT a .com; be wary of any site that wants you to pay to fill out the FREE Application for Federal Student Aid) helps students get at the head of the line for financial aid (as long as they have already applied –and have been accepted) to colleges where they are seeking aid.
Families who fill out the estimated FAFSA on January 1st will still have to update that information once they have completed 2013 taxes. But if the taxes were filed electronically (as they are in more and more homes through online programs, as well as services such as H&R Block), there is a new IRS Retrieval tool which will make updating the FAFSA much easier than in years past.
While the optimum candidate for filling out a FAFSA is of course a high school senior, there are two important groups of people to consider as well: returning college students, and adults who may only be considering going back to college.
With returning students, this should be a no-brainer. By filling out the FAFSA this early, they may find themselves eligible for grants and work study they missed out on last year because they waited to fill out the FAFSA or get accepted to college. And since they are home for Christmas break, you have no excuse to not wake them up by lunchtime and have them fill out the FAFSA.
With adults – they may not have considered going back to college. But by filling out the FAFSA, they open up an opportunity.  Even if they haven’t been accepted yet, this will be an opportunity to get information on colleges, and open up possibilities that may have been written off in the past.
At worst, the family will waste between ½ hour to 1 ½ hours of time. At best, the family qualifies for thousands of dollars in aid.
While you might want to enjoy a day off (whether that Sunday and/or the next Monday, when many businesses are closed and parents have time available), you can do an incredible amount of good and gain thousands of dollars in aid by making a small time sacrifice.
To help struggling Chicago area ministries and nonprofits, Do-Gooder Consulting will provide free facilitation for the FAFSA after church on January 1st, as well as on Monday, January 2nd. Contact us for details (such as what is needed to host the session, opportunities for other ministries to share with you).

Do-Gooder Consulting also provides an affordable year-long consulting service that includes 3 seminars (The Financial Aid Process – for families; The College Going Process – for youth workers; FAFSA workshop – for families).
Contact us at or call us at 872-222-8008 for details on the free and paid services. We look forward to hearing from you. Find out more about us at

And you can look forward to future blog posts in the near future on subjects such as “What is the FAFSA?”, “What’s the difference between grants and scholarships?” and other relevant college-going subjects. See you next time!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Candidates need challengers

2014 primaries in Illinois are now under way with signatures being collected. In many cases, the incumbent is not getting a challenger.

And even then, it is a Chicago sport to get challengers off the ballot in order to ensure a win. Even President Obama did it to win his state Senator office.

To us at Do-Gooder Consulting, that's a sad situation, and in the long run, isn't helpful to incumbents who sincerely want to serve the public (and not simply their own careers).

The elections are essentially a free opinion poll  that gives you a true view of what your active voters think (and not those who like to answer the phone and talk to a pollster). You hear what are issues that parts of your community are passionate about, and to be honest about where you might be failing.

In Chicago, in particular, having multiple opponents are extremely helpful. With Chicago results, you can see precinct by precinct who is with you and who is not. You can then address issues of importance in the right area (for example, if the south part votes for one candidate, then you know those issues, and solutions need to be focused on in that part, even if different than other locations.)

As we mentioned, the removal of an opponent could be done. But if you are a candidate of integrity (especially an incumbent, who proved yourself once to voters), you need to ask if this is necessary. And you may find out that it is truly time for you to step down, again, in a way with integrity (as opposed to simply resigning for no significant reason other than selfish ones).

To sum up our advice: don't be afraid of challengers, and consider them legitimate critiques of your political situation.

Let us know how we can help. Contact us at 872-222-8008 or

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Even a Bootleg Business Card can work

Business cards are vital, people! They help you communicate with strangers and help them find a connection.

People can get uptight because they don't have the funds for a fancy business card. While presentation is helpful, the bottom line is the information.

Note: the card doesn't have to be a special shape, or super shiny and glossy.  Even if the information is handwritten, or a simple Microsoft Word print out that you cut with scissors, it helps.  The "card" may look "bootleg", but as long as the information is accurate and legible, it can help.

But if you DO want something a little more professional, VistaPrint is one that Do-Gooder Consulting uses. On a recent order, we were able to get 500 business cards, plus a metal card holder, for under $12!  That's less than $0.03 a business card!

It's definitely worth it!

And no, we did not get paid for that shout out! Check for any special deals. There may be other ads and deals found elsewhere.

Whenever you go to a conference, such as the Reload Urban Youth Workers conferences, there are old friends, but often new people who you could have great professional or even personal relationships later on after the event. They may also be a connection to a much needed resource.  The possibilities are endless.

So some quick notes to remember about business cards and making them an effective tool:

  • The night before you leave your home, make sure you have a bunch of business cards with you (I suggest putting a few in your wallet, a few in a shirt or coat pocket, several in your notebook or calendar, and even more in your computer/tablet case.
  • While an impressive looking card is nice, having the basic info on a piece of paper the size of a card will work just fine
  • Handwrite the event you are at before giving your card. It will help the recipient remember how you met
  • Once you get your business cards, take a bunch and stash them in various places where you can access them: your wallet, purse, computer bag, messenger bag/briefcase, car glove compartment, jacket, conference name tag (if it allows for storage). Doing the entire list sounds excessive, but you never know when you can use them!
  • Schedule a time after your conference to review the cards YOU have collected.  The point isn't collecting them like baseball cards -- it is to use them as tools for future relationships.

Now, I did want to note that sending business card information electronically (such as via smartphone) is helpful. But there are some dangers of that as well:

  • Your information can be deleted, sometimes to easily. Anyone who currently has a 2 year old can testify to that.
  • Your information can get buried. Unless you are a major speaker, you will only be one of 200-400 other contacts.

A business card has a chance to be found during laundry, housecleaning, or any number of instances that will not happen with a smartphone.

Business cards are a small thing, but they can provide big benefits later on.

Contact us if your organization or small business needs help in coordinating your communication. Either call/text 872-222-8008 or e-mail us at

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Search our categories

We encourage you to use "labels' to help find blog entries that are useful. Some of our most popular are "college access", "college financial aid", "Conference", "Youth Ministry" "web site", "churches", "Illinois College Access Network" and "networking".

You can see our expertise, knowledge and care for these subjects, and we would love your opinion on them as well.

These aren't the only areas we focus on. Check our website at and see some of our other specialties. We would be happy to post a blog entry on those areas as well, in addition to starting a simple discussion on the topic of your choice.

Contact us at 872-222-8008 or

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Celebrate Dreamhost's sweet 16 with us!

We use Dreamhost to host webpages (such as our website at They have a special offer for new hosting, for just $1.60 a month for a full year!

WARNING: This is only for new customers, and really for those who know their way around a website.

We love using Dreamhost because it's simple (well, for advanced users) to use, and are down-to-earth people, as opposed to some big corporations.

If you're unable to establish a website on your own (such as due to time, lack of ability, etc.), Do-Gooder Consulting can help you. Just contact us at 872-222-8008 or for details.

P.S. Dreamhost is celebrating 16 years of existence, so they will have more ways to celebrate their Sweet 16Happy Birthday, Dreamhost!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Have your supporters take advantage of office supply store sales

Back to school sales can help you stock up to help kids!

We just saw these sale today...and this would be great to pass on not just to your members, but also others who support your ministry -- they can use their opportunities to stock up and donate to you at a later date. Imagine a whole church, going out & buying these supplies for an organization serving underprivileged youth. Even children can have a hand helping other children.

Staples has a sale which includes the following 1 PENNY purchases, after you buy $5 in additional supplies:

  • 10 folders
  • 2 bottles of glue
  • 4 pencil cases

This purchase can be accomplished by buying 1 or 2 reams of multipurpose paper at $6.99 each, which comes with an opportunity to get a rebate of $5.99.  (Your upfront costs could be as much as $15, but you get a refund of almost $12)

Office Depot also has a sale this week, which include
$0.25 protractor (limit 3)
$0.25 ruler (limit 3)
$0.25 composition book (limit 3)

OfficeMax offers a sale similar to Staples, which includes notebooks for 1 PENNY (limit 5), after you buy $5 in additional supplies. You can also get up to 3 packs of 10 pens (PaperMate), 2 Glue sticks for $0.25 (limit 3) , and 4 mechanical pencils at $0.50 a pack (limit 3).  They also have a rebate sale on paper, where you can get $6.98 back

Disclaimer: NONE of these stores is giving me a kickback!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Join us August 1 for the FREE Illinois College Access Network Conference @ North Park University

JP Paulus will be a co-presenter for a workshop during the Illinois College Access Network conference in Chicago on Thursday, August 1. He will join Jeremy Barahona of PURSUE Scholars to talk about "Developing Faith-Based College Access Partnerships", based on our experience with churches, nonprofits and networking.

The aim of the conference is to help those who work with youth (and adults) get them to college, and to connect resources together to help our whole state improve our college graduation rates.

Other presenters, perhaps familiar to our readers, include Professor Daniel White Hodge from North Park's Center for Youth Ministry Studies.

The conference is free, but they ask that you RSVP, in order to plan for the FREE continental breakfast and lunch. Simply send an e-mail to with basic details (i.e. how many are going, what organization you are with, if any)

The conference is on Thursday, August 1, from 8am - 2pm at North Park University, 3225 W. Foster Avenue (in the Carlson Tower building).  Free parking is available at the lot on the southeast corner of Kedzie and Foster.

Here's the schedule:

Registration and Continental Breakfast
8:30 – 9:00am          Welcome and Opening Remarks, by Mike Dessimoz & Leslie Millenson
9:15 – 10:15am       Break-out Sessions:
·      Non-Academic Factors in College Readiness, by Anne Deeter, Dominican University
·      Developing Faith-Based College Access Partnerships, by JP Paulus, Do-Gooder Consulting
10:30 – 11:30am     Break-out Sessions:
·      Transitional Experiences of Illinois Males, Dr. Lorenzo Baber, University of Illinois
·      Three Years Later: Findings from the ISAC Corps, by  Illinois Student Assistance Commission
11:45 – 12:45pm     Break-out Sessions:
·      Hip Hop Culture and the Aspirations of Youth, by Dr. Daniel White Hodge, North Park University
·      Professional Development on a Budget, panel presentation on creative& cost-effective staff development
12:45 – 2:00pm       Lunch& Keynote Presentation by The College Board:
                                    “The Educational Crisis Facing Young Men of Color

For more information, go to the Illinois College Access Network website.

If you are at the conference, please come to see JP Paulus. If you don't see him, call or text 872-22-8008.

We look forward to seeing you!