As kids of all ages head back to school, for those of you parents with seniors in high school, there is a lot to think about—senior pictures, homecoming, the SATs…and their future. If your child plans to go to college, you have college visits, calculations on how to pay for it, scholarships available, financial aid, etc. We know it is a lot to think about, which is why we are offering a free, live webinar titled College Bound on Tuesday, August 23 at 5:30 PM. At this webinar, we will cover how to calculate your expected family contribution, understand the FAFSA application better and look at other ways to pay for college.
Here are 7 important facts you need to know:
1. Your expected family contribution (EFC) is a dollar figure that represents what your family should be able to pay at a minimum for one year of college. Basically, the more money you make, the higher your EFC. You can calculate your family’s EFC on the “Big Future” website: https://npc.collegeboard.org/app/efc
2. The EFC calculator looks at some of the following factors: status of child as a dependent or independent, marital status of the parents, family size, age of the student as well as other family members and the parents’ finances.
3. All schools require the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. This application determines who will qualify for state and federal aid. Most schools use it to calculate who will receive money from them as well. Go to https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa for more information.
4. Approximately 200 undergraduate schools use the CSS Profile application in addition to the FAFSA to determine who qualifies for their own institutional aid. Visit https://cssprofile.collegeboard.org/ to learn how to apply and which schools participate. If you plan to attend a school that uses the CSS Profile, you still need to complete the FAFSA.
5. The four main sources of college money in order include: the federal government, colleges themselves, state governments and private scholarships.
6. Today, 69% of students borrow money to pay for college. The typical student leaves school with $30,000 in debt. Federal Direct Loans are strictly for students and more manageable as they only allow you to borrow up to a certain dollar amount. Regardless of income, students qualify for a Federal Direct Loan if they are enrolled in college at least part-time and complete the FAFSA.
7. Explore lots of options as you and your child look at schools. Public universities generating a lot of buzz will charge high prices to nonresidents. Thus, sticker prices may be lower at less well-known schools who also offer more scholarship money. Visit https://www.niche.com/ to find millions of student reviews of colleges. This site explores different categories, such as best student life, best value, best academics, top party schools and more.
As the parent of a senior that is College Bound, we know you have lots of questions. Please reach out to us anytime at (301) 733-7777. Make sure you sign up for our College Bound Webinar on Tuesday, August 23 at 5:30 PM to also get more answers!