This is a message for seniors. Before you submit your college applications
and do some checking to make sure the schools on your final list are a financial fit for your family. Because all colleges are not created equal when it comes to financial aid and merit scholarships. Some schools are downright stingy to low-income students, and some don’t give any money to middle-income students based on grades and test scores. Some expect students to borrow a lot of money to pay for school, and others provide financial aid that does not require student loans. Depending on your family’s financial situation and your grades and test scores, different colleges might paint a very different financial picture. You might make the mistake of applying to schools that will not provide the financial support your family needs, and not applying to places that would give you a good aid package.
Aren’t you glad I stopped you before you made that mistake? You can thank me later.
What you need to do first is make a
and find out what each school on your list is likely to cost your family. It’s not too difficult and should not take you more than twenty minutes per school. First, you’ll need to assemble some of your family’s financial information — income, savings, home values (you can use estimates). Then go to the college’s web page and type in “Net Price Calculator”. You might have to hunt around a bit, if you can’t find it try here or here. You’ll end up at a screen that will allow you type in your family’s financial information and your grades and test scores, and it will give you an estimate of the financial and need based aid you are likely to receive. Here’s the Net Price Calculator for Seattle University. When you are done, take a look at the amount of money the school expects you to pay out of pocket and the amount the school expects you and your family to borrow. Do that for each school on your list. Are some better than others? The College Board has a good worksheet that will help you compare aid packages. Do you like what you see? Are you alarmed? Don’t be. There may be great schools out there that do make financial sense. If you need help finding them talk to your counselors or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope this doesn’t freak you out, I know you have a lot on your plate right now.
But spending a little time on this will make your life easier. Plus, you won’t waste your time applying to schools you don’t love**** and you can’t afford.
**** Here’s a caveat. You can apply to a few dream schools even if they seem out of reach financially. Just make sure you’ve got some financial safety schools too. It will make for a much happier spring.