Next to the purchase of a home, a college education is the second biggest investment parents make. With today’s skyrocketing college tuition costs, paying for college is a major dilemma giving frazzled parents cause for grief. Since most parents need assistance to foot the bill, here are three tips to help secure college funding.
Tip 1: Chase the right money.
Here are four main sources of scholarships and grants and a recent percentage breakdown of this money:
- Federal government: 44%
- Colleges: 36%
- State government: 9%
- Private scholarships: 6%
Many families waste a lot of time chasing the wrong kind of money such as name-brand scholarships, for which the competition is fierce. Your student has a much better chance with private scholarships if they focus on local scholarships such as those in your community or workplace; and, focusing on maintaining high GPAs and admittance test scores to receive merit aid from schools.
Tip 2: The early bird gets the worm.
The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) determines a student’s eligibility for federal student aid, including low-cost loans, grants, and work-study programs. The FAFSA may determine a student’s eligibility for state and school aid as well. Many financial aid programs are first-come, first-served. The FAFSA can be completed as early as January 1 of the year a student intends to enter school. And if your student is applying to higher-cost colleges or some scholarship programs, you also may have to file the CSS PROFILE application. There is a fee charged with the PROFILE.
Tip 3: Know the admissions game colleges play.
Keep in mind that each institution that a family includes on the FAFSA will be able to see all the other schools that your student is applying to. Some schools, no one knows how many, use the order that a student lists his or her schools to help make admission and financial aid decisions. It is best to just list the colleges alphabetically.
Today’s college admissions process is too complex for most parents to understand, and the financial pitfalls for making mistakes are great. Skip the drama and get expert advice from a professional who can guide you and your teen with selecting colleges, the financial aid process and career planning so you can save precious time and money.
College Career Strategist Elizabeth Venturini gladly supports stressed-out, timed-starved parents who want the best college, financial aid and career options for their teenagers. To register for Elizabeth’s programs, call 949-636-9055, email at [email protected], or go to www.collegecareerresults.com.