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Cost of College

Finding Colleges You Can Afford

Information adapted from the Financial Fit Program.

Finding colleges that fit you financially can be overwhelming. There are more than 3000 colleges in the United States, and trying to use each college's net price calculator to determine whether it is within your affordability threshold would be virtually impossible.

Colleges can be sorted into all sorts of groups—large or small, public or private, city or residential. But what about sorting by affordability? Frank Palmasani has observed that colleges can be divided into eight categories based on cost.

Palmasani's eight categories:

  • Flagship in state
  • Flagship out of state
  • Non flagship in state
  • Non flagship out of state
  • Highly selective private
  • Mid-size private
  • Remaining private
  • Community colleges

If you check the net price calculators of a few schools in each category, you can get a sense of which categories of schools will most likely be good financial fits for you.

In addition to the eight categories, keep in mind that you can commute to a local college and live at home to help minimize costs.

To learn more about how to use the eight categories of colleges to maximize your use of net price calculators, check out the Financial Fit Program.

Once you have found financial fits that also match your other needs and wants, and you have applied to the colleges on your list, you will move into the execution phase of paying for college. In the execution phase, you will fill out all your financial aid documents and receive your award letters.

Ready to learn more about financial aid documents?