A Tennessee-based Company Wants to Help You Get Money for College

Andy Spears
4 min readNov 30, 2020

Bobby Nicholson and his company, Outlier’s Advantage, want Tennessee kids and kids nationwide to have the best possible chance to earn money to attend college. That’s why they created the guide. At first, it was a guide to merit-based scholarship criteria for Tennessee schools. Now, they’ve gone national. I asked Nicholson to tell me more about It Pays to Prep and what it means for students headed to college.

1) Tell me more about It Pays to Prep. When did it start? What information is in it?

We published the first edition of It Pays to Prep in 2016. Many families were not aware of the guaranteed scholarship model that most colleges now use. Furthermore, most families weren’t aware of how much money was being awarded for each additional point that their student earns on the ACT. We also were trying to give our students more motivation to put in the work necessary to beat the ACT. Hence, It Pays to Prep was born.

In its most basic form, it gives families an easy way to find their student’s GPA and ACT score and find how much money they will be awarded at different schools. We list the value per year and over four years, the tuition and fees per year at that school, and the amount remaining for families to pay per year. It also lists general information about the school.

It Pays to Prep helps students consider a wide range of colleges that they may not have ever looked into before. It also helps families easily compare schools to each other.

2) This has historically been a guide focused on Tennessee schools — what made you take it national?

Our plan is to become the premier ACT prep provider for high-achieving students nationwide. No one else is compiling anything like this, especially not in the easy to read format that we do. We hope this begins to garner traffic and attention all over the nation and simultaneously spreads the word about the work we are doing at Outlier’s Advantage: ACT Prep Academy.

3) What information is in It Pays to Prep that parents can’t or won’t find from other sources?

Parents can find almost all of the information elsewhere. The benefit of It Pays to Prep is that we spend hundreds of hours finding all of this information, separating the wheat from the chaff, and compiling it all on one easy to read document.

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Andy Spears

Writer and policy advocate living in Nashville, TN —Public Policy Ph.D. — writes on education policy, consumer affairs, and more . . .