It’s that time of year, and creating competition between schools is important as you help your child apply for colleges and universities. Your child should apply to anywhere between six and eight schools.

When applying to multiple schools, you should always apply to at least two or three that are rated somewhat equal.

This way, if your child gets accepted to all of them, you may be able to play one against the other when negotiating to get a better financial aid package.

Even if your son or daughter is set on one particular college, putting at least two or three schools on the FAFSA form is always a good strategy.

Your child should apply to at least two likely (schools they are aligned to get into according to scores and grades), two target (schools where grades and scores fit into the school’s averages for acceptance), and two reach schools (schools where scores and grades are a bit below what the school’s average accepted student has).

It is also important to check each school’s acceptance rate, as if the school accepts less than 40 percent of its applicants it would automatically be a reach since they turn away many more students than they accept.

• Bob McDonnell is executive director of Arizona College Planners, L.L.C., a member of the College Planning Network, the National Association of College Funding Advisors and the National Association of College Acceptance Counselors. For questions, email Info@ArizonaCollegePlanners.com.

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