Answers to Your College Questions
Blog posts tagged in College Affordability
Choosing your list of colleges is one of the most important admissions decisions you will make. With thousands of schools to choose from, this decision can be a tough one! Check out these pointers from our experts to help you find the right college for you.
Consider the Cost
Frank Palmasani, Author of Right College, Right Price: The New System for Discovering the Best College Fit at the Best Price
Summer is a great time to head to college campuses for a visit. Not only can you learn more about schools and get a feel for whether they’re a good fit for you, but campus visits are also an ideal opportunity to speak to admissions representatives and financial aid officers one-on-one about college costs and financial aid. When speaking to these college representatives, consider asking these ten questions to ensure you find the school that fits you best in every way, including financially.
1. What is the current cost of tuition and fees? Room and board?
Some colleges know what their listed charges (sticker prices) will be years in advance. Most don’t, but obtaining the current sticker price will at minimum provide you with an initial starting point for determining the affordability of the institution. If you intend to live in university housing for more than one year, be sure to ask how room and board plans typically fluctuate from year to year. Are all room prices the same? How about meal plan prices?
Many 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.
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.