Admit it: With high school seniors in the final stretch of completing college applications, many parents are wondering how they will finance their children’s education. College tuition is increasing annually and often outweighs the cost of living, yet many middle and upper-middle class families often neglect the importance of financial aid applications and think applying for financial aid is futile. Annual college tuition can easily tip the $40,000 – $50,000 mark, making understanding the financial aid process critical. Crisp Consulting + Coaching provides strategies to navigate the financial aid process.
Count on applying for financial Aid. Everyone with concerns about the cost of college should apply for aid. Remember that each college has specific policies on the criteria used to award different types of financial aid. Many families are surprised to learn that some colleges do not consider family income or assets when selecting merit award recipients, and other colleges have reduced or entirely eliminated loans from financial aid offers. It can be quite difficult to interpret policies and to know what to expect from various schools, and even though the process can be confusing, it is still always best to apply for financial aid.
Eligibility is based on several factors including: income, assets, family size and the number of children currently attending college. High-income families often qualify for grant and merit aid at colleges with high costs of attendance. Many schools now have a tuition plan relative to the family income and the University of California is considering tuition pricing based on 5% of a graduates future income.
Count on strict deadlines. Meeting deadlines is essential in the financial aid process because all colleges and universities have limited amounts of institutional funding. Applicants who miss specified deadlines may receive reduced institutional aid awards due to limited availability of funds. Keep in mind that not knowing deadlines is not an acceptable reason for missing them. Begin the aid process early, and for students who require financial aid, aid deadlines are as important as admission deadlines.
Count on multiple applications. All financial aid applications are not the same. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is required for all federal aid programs as well as many state and scholarship programs. Aid applicants should complete the FAFSA every year.
An institutional aid application is usually required for university-specific money. The CSS Profile form is used by many public and private colleges as well, which requires additional data to provide a better snapshot of each family’s unique situation.
In addition, state grant programs, private scholarships and external programs may require additional applications. Check with the awarding agency as some will only require an application while others may require an essay, interview or additional financial resource information.
Brian D. Crisp is an international educational consultant with Crisp Consulting + Coaching . Brian works with families to optimize and realize their unique educational fit and admission success. As a former professor and administrator, Brian counsels families in all aspects of educational planning.