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Answers to Your College Questions

Frank Palmasani

Frank Palmasani

Frank Palmasani is a Chicago area high school guidance counselor and former college director of admissions, and creator of Financial Fit. In 1985, Palmasani began delivering seminars on the college financial aid and planning process, and estimates that he has reached more than 200,000 people through his talks. He is a member of NACAC, IACAC, and the College Board. Palmasani has been featured in the Boston Herald, the Chicago Tribune, Yahoo! Finance, WGN-TV, WTTW-TV, CBS’s Monsters and Money in the Morning, and is the author of the forthcoming book Right College, Right Price (Sourcebooks, January 2013).


Palmasani is the founder of Financial Fit, which you can find in the College Countdown bookstore.

Posted by on in Paying for College

FinFitHomepageImagev3Soon, after January 1st of 2013, parents of high school seniors will be filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid—the FAFSA—in their pursuit of financial aid for college.

The federal government uses the FAFSA to calculate families’ EFC number. EFC is a term that is often misunderstood; it stands for Expected Family Contribution. Many people believe that the EFC number is the exact amount that schools expect families to spend on college. This is not the case. Actually, your EFC is the number that colleges will use (along with information they garner on a student’s application for admission) to develop their award letters. The award letter—which lists eligibility for all scholarships, grants, student loans, and campus employment options—allows families to determine their official net price of the college.

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how to talk about college costs with kids

Most parents of high school students recognize the value of a college education and actively discuss the benefits of getting a degree with their children early on. Before their high school years even begin, parents emphasize the necessity of good grades, strong test scores, and involvement in extracurricular activities to make their student a desirable candidate for college admissions. Unfortunately, there is one aspect of the college process that doesn’t seem to come up in dinner-table conversation: paying for college.

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Posted by on in Paying for College

Student Loan OptionsThere has been a great deal written about rising student loan debt. According to the Institute for Student Access and Success, the average student debt in 2011 was $26,600. In 2010, it was reported that the average debt parents were taking on to support their students was approaching $35,000. Thus, one could argue that the real debt per family for four years of college is now averaging more than $60,000.

I do not recommend taking on excessive loan debt. The following ten loan options, when used wisely, can make it possible to take on manageable debt to help you pay for college.

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Posted by on in Paying for College

Family talking about college finances

Here is something that baffles me. Let’s assume that your son or daughter is one of the best basketball players in the country. You probably know what happens when your child possesses that gift: colleges come calling, willing to offer scholarships if the student chooses their school. Generally, student athletes end up choosing the college that provides the most attractive scholarship offer.

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Posted by on in Paying for College

When we discuss college costs, we need to understand what “cost” actually means.

Officially, colleges list a cost of attendance, what I call sticker price, which includes tuition and fees, room and board, transportation, books and supplies, and personal expenses. Families don’t pay the sticker price, though, so don’t get a case of sticker shock when you start looking at colleges.

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