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

hand rejecting bag of money representing applying to colleges without generous merit aidIn 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 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 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 school than by trying to rearrange your finances. Continue reading

Can College Athletes Receive both Athletic and Academic Scholarships?

Basketball and mortar board representing athletic and academic scholarshipsYou would think this would be an easy question to answer. And it is for NCAA D3 schools since they aren’t allowed to offer any athletic scholarships so the answer is no. As for D1 or D2 schools, if you just stop and think about it a little, you would begin to realize that there’s no way it could possibly have a simple answer. Continue reading

540 Colleges with No Application Fees

student looking at colleges with free application feesI’ve updated the free college application fees list based on the Integrated Post-secondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and information from the Common Application available in October 2019. The IPEDS data is the fee charged for the 2018-19 academic year while the Common Application Data is for the 2019-20 year. Yes, it’s very possible the data reported by IPEDS will not be valid for the coming year. But it’s what is available.

Everyone knows the cost of higher education is spiraling out of control. Did you know that the cost to apply to college has reached equally outrageous levels? Applying to US News 2019 Top Ten (there are actually 11 top 10 because of a tie) National Universities would set you back $855 in application fees with a low of $70 to a high of $90. Only two schools charged less than $75. That doesn’t include the cost of sending in testing scores reports. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

3 Things You Need to Know Before You Submit Your Early Decision Application

Student thinking about early decisionThe first of the Early Decision college admissions deadlines are approaching and students are nervously revising their college application essays. However, before they submit their applications, they need to remember that there are reasons why people criticize Early Decision as primarily benefiting rich kids. As students make one final review of their application, they should make sure they know the following three things about Early Decision. Continue reading

26 Places to Get Help with the FAFSA

Hand reaching out of water for help with FAFSAIn case you haven’t heard, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for 2020-21 is available on October 1st. That means that it’s time for high school seniors to collect all their documents so they can fill out the FAFSA. Why? Because you will need to have submitted the FAFSA to be eligible for financial aid awarded by the federal government, colleges, and many states. And the sooner, the better. While filling out the FAFSA isn’t the key to great financial aid, it is a necessary step. Continue reading

5 Financial Aid Strategies Parents of Sophomores Need to Know Before the Spring Semester

parents considering financial aid strategiesParents of sophomores need to know that their students’ college financial aid awards will be calculated on the base year that starts January 1 of the student’s sophomore year. This means that the fall semester of the student’s sophomore year will be the last chance parents have to implement some financial aid strategies that could significantly increase their student’s eligibility for need-based financial aid. Continue reading

10 Things Parents Do That Increase College Student Debt

Parents with college grad representing how parents can help avoid student debtWe have all heard the horror stories of college graduates with staggering debt and little hope of repaying it before retiring. The obvious cause of the problem is the seemingly ever-increasing cost of college.

But here’s the thing. When you read the stories about graduates struggling with student loans after graduation, you’ll almost always see that they had alternatives to the large student loans they ended up with. With the high cost of college, more than ever teens need their parents to provide financial guidance when applying to college. Unfortunately, rather than supplying a financial reality check, too many parents make the situation worse by doing the following: Continue reading

15 Things Parents of High School Freshmen Must Know NOW About Getting Into and Paying for College!

Mother and son learning about Getting Into and Paying for CollegeAs the parents of college freshmen drove home from dropping their kids off at college, many had to be thinking about how they’ll do things differently next time knowing what they know now. Many were probably wishing, “if only someone had told me four years ago that…, things would have been so much easier.” It’s a common dilemma in life, you don’t know what you don’t know. So I’ve created the following list of things that parents of high school freshmen need to know about getting into and paying for college. Let me know if you have anything to add. Continue reading