I will help you strategize ways to find schools that are right for your family and give you the skills to understand how financial aid/merit aid works. Doing the homework early will ensure that your student has choices when April of senior year rolls around.
PAYING FOR COLLEGE
How much does it cost?
College is one of the few areas in life where we must first apply and then find out what it will cost, often months later. In the meantime, the family doesn’t know, can we afford this school? They said they would offer us a scholarship, but how much will it be?
I don’t know about you, but the idea of not knowing the potential cost makes me very uncomfortable. Some families get around this by only applying to state schools where they know for sure what the cost will be. Other families bury their heads in the sand and say “We will just apply and see what the offers are.”
But there is a better way. It makes enormous sense to do the financial homework right at the beginning of the process. That way your student can craft a list of schools that will be more likely to be affordable(ish!).
I offer a financial aid primer. I can tell you what your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) should be, and I can help you to identify appropriate schools for your budget. Some families are looking for need based money, other families have too much income for need based, but can’t or don’t want to pay full fare, so they are looking for merit based money.
Just this week, one of my students asked why her college list looked completely different from her friend’s, who was also working with me. The answer? Because the first student was looking for need based aid and the second student was looking for merit aid. The schools that are most generous with need money are not the same schools that are most generous with merit money.
So, it is crucial to determine up front, what kind of family you are. Unless, of course you are one of the very lucky ones who can pay the full fare at any school. Although, I suspect that if you were, you wouldn’t be reading this column!
How can you find out which schools are most appropriate for your family? I offer a service to help you make sense of it all. I will calculate your Expected Family Contribution for both Federal Methodology and Institutional Methodology. I will provide you with detailed financial information for 10 schools, showing exactly how much those schools are projected to cost, and what percentage of the aid package will be loans versus grants. Some schools claim to provide need based aid, but it turns out to be a package full of loans, which is not need based aid at all, in my opinion.
I will help you strategize ways to find schools that are right for your family and give you the skills to understand how financial aid/merit aid works. The cost of this service is $695, which will seem like nothing compared to the peace of mind you will have in knowing that you have fully understood the ins and outs of college costs and that you are able to point your student in the right direction. After all, you don’t want to be faced with a student who has fallen in love with a dream school, only to find out that there is no way the family can pay for it. And you definitely don’t want to be a family whose student takes on $250,000 worth of debt for an undergraduate degree. It is April, as I write this, and once again I have heard that same story. It never fails. Every April, I hear about students who only applied to schools they can’t afford. And every April, I hear of students who are taking on an enormous amount of unnecessary debt.
It doesn’t have to be that way. I can’t wave a magic wand and make college free. But I can make sure that you know which schools are going to be more affordable for you!
Some families are uncomfortable and say “I don’t want to make this only about money.” But that isn’t the goal. The goal is to make this about providing choices for your student. Doing the homework early will ensure that your student has choices when April of senior year rolls around. Let your student fall in love with the right mix of schools. And trust me, if your student has good choices, you will feel like a genius for having taken this approach!
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