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College Planning FAQs

I heard college costs more than we can afford? Is this true?

Despite the media hype about rising college costs, a college education is more affordable than most people think, especially when you consider college graduates earn an average of $1 million more over their careers than high-school graduates. The average yearly cost for tuition at a four-year public school in 2010-2011 is just $7,605. There are some expensive schools, but high tuition is not a requirement for a good education.

We are comfortable in our earnings. Can we still qualify for financial aid?

Aid is intended to make a college education available for students of families in many financial situations. College financial aid administrators often take into account not only income, but also other family members in college, home mortgage costs, and other factors. Aid is awarded to many families with incomes they thought would disqualify them. You’d be surprised at how many families that make really decent incomes still apply for financial aid- a lot.

My grades are not stellar, can I still get financial aid?

It’s true that many scholarships reward merit, but the vast majority of federal aid is based on financial need and does not even consider grades.

We have saved money for college, can we still get financial aid?

Saving for college is always a good idea. Since most financial aid comes in the form of loans, the aid you are likely to receive will need to be repaid. Tucking away money could mean you have fewer loans to repay, and it won’t necessarily mean you’re not eligible for aid if you need it. A family’s share of college costs is calculated based mostly on income, not assets such as savings.

Can I get financial aid for a private school?

Experts recommend deferring cost considerations until late in the college-selection process. Most important is finding a school that meets your academic, career, and personal needs. In fact, you might have a better chance of receiving aid from a private school. Private colleges often offer more financial aid to attract students from every income level. Higher college expenses also mean a better chance of demonstrating financial need.

Are there untapped college funds out there?

Professional scholarship search services often tout this statistic. In fact, most unclaimed money is slated for a few eligible candidates, such as employees of a specific corporation or members of a certain organization. Most financial aid comes from the federal government, though it’s also a good idea to research other sources of aid.

Home value is not considered in calculations for federal financial aid. Colleges may take home equity into account when determining how much you are expected to contribute to college costs, but income is a far greater factor in this determination. No college will expect your parents to sell their house to pay for your education.
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