The excitement generated by acceptance letters so many high school seniors received before April 1 has morphed into anxiety if not outright panic as families’ finances have been turned upside down. What was an affordable college before COVID-19 may not be any more. Athletes face uncertainty about scholarship availability. And there are students who would just rather stay a little closer to home than when they first created their college list.
So now what?
The first thing any family with a college bound high school senior should do is visit TuitionFit.org. TuitionFit.org is an amazing free resource that allows families to compare colleges by price. And by price, I mean the real price. That is the price families actually pay based on the students’ academic qualifications and family situation. You know, the number families receive once they get their financial aid award.
The way TuitionFit works is simple. Students upload their financial aid awards with all personal identifying information removed. They also provide their basic academic qualifications, again without any personal information attached. Once the information is uploaded, students can see what awards other students received with the same sort of qualifications. In other words, you can actually price compare your award with those from other colleges without even having applied to them.
Information that can help you pay for college
This could provide students with the information they need to appeal for a better merit scholarship at their preferred school. Depending on the school, students may be able to see how their award from a college compares to others with similar backgrounds. Or they may see awards for similar institutions that are much higher for students with comparable qualifications which is also useful information.
But what about those that now want to go to schools they never even applied to? The application deadlines are long gone, right? No. Even before COVID-19, plenty of colleges had later deadlines or rolling admissions which means you could apply right now. Then there’s the annual list of colleges still accepting applications put out annually by NACAC after May 1. This list will indicate if the college is still awarding financial aid.
Finally, if you find another college through TuitionFit that does a better job of meeting your net financial or social needs–contact them! Even if their application deadline has passed, the truth is that COVID-19 is hitting colleges hard and they’re worried about filling classes this fall. They’re making this up as they go as well and you never know if a college will waive a deadline for a student willing to commit immediately. And as the summer progresses, you’ll probably find even more colleges willing to entertain “late” applications.
However, don’t wait until then to use TuitionFit! They have over 11,000 financial aid offers in their system and hundreds of new uploads each month. Most users will see over 400 comparable offers made to other students of similar financial and academic backgrounds. This is information that you won’t find anywhere else. By using TuitionFit families will be able to stop panicking and start making plans for how they’re going to deal with the COVID-19 fallout. And remember, it’s free to users who upload copies of their awards.
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