Someone recently said, if you can't afford it, it's a reach school." Of course, the problem is that college costs are not transparent. In fact, there are few things in life that are less transparent than college costs, especially if you are talking about private colleges. So how do you know if you can't afford it?
With public schools, you can usually get a reasonably good idea of how much it will cost. If you are applying from out-of-state, there won't be much financial aid, except for loans, but there may be some scholarship money. You can often see a chart right on the school's website, with a grid showing potential scholarships for X GPA and Y SAT score. The key is to apply early, as the scholarship money often runs out.
But private schools? Private schools are different. Some have only need-based aid, but they are the ones who get to determine whether or not you have need. Others will offer a combination of need-based and merit based money.
How do you know which type of school will be a financial fit for your student? It takes a lot of research to figure it out. Schools do have calculators on their websites, but that will just give you a rough estimate of what it will cost.
Sometimes schools will sweeten the pot, for a student that they really want. They call this "Preferential Packaging". And sometimes they will use "Professional Judgement" to increase the aid for a particular family, based on their circumstances.
The bottom line (pun intended!) is that you need to do the research so your student applies to a good mix of schools, which will fit the family's financial parameters.
Read more about Paying for College
Author: Teri Thompson