Today’s students are extremely loan-averse. Many of their parents are still recovering from the recession and worry about how they’ll help pay for a four-year degree. And, less than 100 of the 2700+ four-year colleges in the US will meet 100% of financial need. It sounds like the perfect storm. May we suggest some ways to prepare for the financial realities of paying for college?
Understand the difference between “sticker” and “net” price for a college. Net Price Calculators can better estimate a student’s “net” price after taking into account possible merit-based aid, grants, work study, and loans (for both the student and parents).
Make sure the student's college list includes schools where their profile (GPA, test scores, etc.) is above the average for admitted students. They will be more likely to be awarded merit-based aid.
It's never too early to start looking for ways to help fund college expenses. Look for scholarships through organizations such as FinAid.org and Fastweb.com.
Parents and guardians: Be honest with students about financial realities in your family. Your children will appreciate knowing what the challenges are as they go into the search rather than after receiving an admission letter from their "dream school.”
Students: Be kind to your parents. They want the best for you, which may include helping you graduate with less debt. When it’s time to complete the FAFSA and CSS PROFILE, offer lots of encouragement and hugs. My dad was supportive of my education, but boy did he hate filling out financial aid paperwork!