5 Reason to Use The New York Times Build Your Own College Rankings…and 4 Things to Watch Out For

Female student using New York Times Build Your Own College Rankings tool on a laptopShould you use The New York Times Build Your Own College Rankings? Let’s face it, just because it’s from The New York Times, people are going to look, right? Which I did. I have to admit that I was pleased with several aspects of their rankings which incorporate some elements that I have long been advocating. But I’m not going to retire my DIYCollegeRankings spreadsheets just yet. While the Build Your Own College Rankings gets some things right, there are other areas that definitely need improvement.

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Top 3 Cheapest Colleges by Acceptance Rates

Female graduate student holding diploma representing cheapest colleges by acceptance rates(See list of cheapest colleges by acceptance rates at end of post.) Budget, affordable, bargain, best value are all different ways at getting at what are the cheapest colleges in the United States? There are multiple options you can use as the number to rank colleges to determine which is the most affordable. More on that later. And some lists will actually divide schools up by geography which can be useful. But do you know what is the most useful way to classify value colleges regardless of how you define value? Acceptance rates.

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3 Reasons Why Your Kid’s Good Grades Won’t Pay for College

apple and chalkboard representing good grades won't get you a great scholarshipMost people know that good grades will get you into college. And maybe if they’re good enough (along with an appropriate essay and the right extracurriculars and recommendations), they might get you into your dream or reach college. But while good grades may get you into your dream college, chances are they won’t pay for it with academic scholarships. This often comes as a surprise to students and their families but it really shouldn’t. There are 3 common situations where students aren’t going to qualify for enough academic scholarships to pay for college.

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You Can’t Get Merit Scholarships From a College You Never Apply To

hand rejecting bag of money representing applying to colleges without generous merit scholarships.In a previous post, I defined Expected Family Contribution (EFC), how it works theoretically, and what happens in the real world. For many families, the difference between theory and practice is irrelevant since their EFC (with changes to financial aid, soon to become the Student Aid Index) is much higher than their actual ability to pay. There are steps that you can take to reduce your EFC, and you should definitely do so if you have the opportunity. However, the fact is that you’re likely to do more to cut the cost of college by targeting the right schools for merit scholarships than by trying to rearrange your finances.

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Why Your EFC Should be how you Start Your College Search

getting started game piecesWhat is EFC? To start your college search, you need to be able to answer this question. If you’re like most parents starting the college search process, you don’t have a clue what EFC means. In fact, most parents don’t understand until they are well into the college application process which is not a good thing.

So what is EFC? EFC stands for “Expected Family Contribution” and is the term used by the Federal Government and colleges to state how much parents are expected to pay for their child’s college education. (EFC is being renamed the “Student Aid Index” for the 24-25 award year but it will still function the same as EFC.)

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Colleges that Meet 100% of Financial Need Depending on How You Define Need

Chained money representing colleges that meet 100% of need(Updated for 2023) Probably the biggest shock families experience as they consider their college options is finding out how much they’re expected to pay for college. But I think a close second would be how few colleges are actually able to meet the family’s admittedly flawed calculated need. According to the Common Data Set and college websites only 75 colleges and universities claim to meet 100% of a student’s financial need.

If a family is able to show financial need, good luck in finding a school that will actually cover it.

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5 Rules About Paying for College That Most Parents Don’t Know

Woman reading about paying for college (Updated for 2023) If you want to get any financial aid, you need to submit college financial aid applications such as the FAFSA and PROFILE. This is obviously a critical step: no application, no aid. But if you want to pay less for college, it certainly isn’t the first step.

The fact is that the FAFSA is just one of the final steps of many in paying for college. I’m not talking about the savings account you were going to set up for your kids when they were little but never got around to. What I’m talking about are the things you need to know before students even start applying to colleges. Before you even start making a college search list, much less worrying about completing the FAFSA, you should know the following five things about paying for college.

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21 Schools to Avoid if You’re Making a List of Affordable Colleges

college student thinking about Schools to Avoid if You’re Making a List of affordable collegesIn case you haven’t heard, some colleges are more likely to provide you institutional scholarships and grants than others. Some are more generous with merit aid while others give better need-based aid. And just as some colleges are known for their aid, there are those that are known for the lack of it and shouldn’t be found anywhere near a list of affordable colleges. In this post, I’m listing 21 colleges that you should avoid if you’re looking for significant help in cutting the cost of college.

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