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Answers to Your College Questions

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Posted by on in Paying for College

Should I look for scholarshipsI applied for more than 350 scholarships and paid for my entire education using scholarships. I’d like to say that first so that you don’t worry that I’m just some old guy sitting at home and blogging about scholarship stuff that I read online once.

I’ve been in the trenches and I have my battle scars (mostly paper cuts) to prove it.

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Posted by on in Paying for College

price vs. quality for college educationMany parents have asked this same question during my live seminars on finding affordable colleges. It is a common misconception that the sticker price of a college is directly related to the quality of the education your child will receive. This is understandable considering how goods and services are given value in our country—we often perceive items or services that are more costly as being somehow of higher quality. Obviously, in some cases, such as cars or homes, this might be true. The real question, though, is does that perspective hold true when examining colleges?

In our country, the most prestigious colleges—the Ivy League schools, for example—are typically the ones that have the highest sticker price. However, the sticker price, or the listed cost, of a college is not what each family pays. The amount each individual family actually pays is based on net price. Net price is calculated by subtracting grants and scholarships that the student has been awarded from the original sticker price. This is what makes college selection so different from many other purchases. The net prices for schools with the highest sticker prices can often be lower than those at many other colleges. That is just one reason why you can’t correlate price with the quality of a college.

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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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Posted by on in Paying for College

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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