Financial Aid

Many parents and students look at the sticker price of college and worry about how they are going to afford it. However, few students pay the full price and the actual cost is based on many factors (such as financial need, student demographics and characteristics, grade point average, and test scores). The actual price of attending a particular college isn’t available until the student is accepted, usually during a student’s senior year, and some students pay very little or nothing to attend. So, in the meantime, students should focus on getting the best academic preparation possible and both parents and students should wait on making any final decisions about where to attend based on actual acceptance letters and the true cost contained in them.

Little or no money will be available for tuition, room/board, books or other colleges expenses if students and parents don’t complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid). Students and parents should complete the FAFSA even if they are uncertain about attending college. The FAFSA is available starting October 1 and should be completed as soon as possible because many colleges distribute financial aid on a first-come, first-served basis.

Grants are free money based on financial need and do not have to be repaid. Students and their families should always accept any grants offered by colleges or the government.

LINK: The basics on grants and scholarships

The two main kinds of loans are government backed and private. Government-backed loans usually have lower interest rates and more flexibility. Private loans have higher interest rates and carry more risk, so most experts agree that these loans should be used as a last resort—if at all.

The higher the grades and test scores, the more scholarship money will be available. Most scholarships require a minimum GPA of 3.0., though a few go down to as low as a 2.0 GPA and others have no GPA requirement. At the top, some scholarships require a 3.75 GPA or above.

Any financial decisions should be made after thorough research and in consultation with financial experts.

Click here for additional information about financial aid.

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