Public Universities with Cheapest Out-of-State Tuition

pocket with money representing saving at colleges with low out-of-state tuition(I’ve updated this post with information available from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System in the September 2018)

Back when I was a freshman attending a rather large state university in Austin, Texas, I ran into quite a few students (relatively speaking) from the state of New York. They told me that they were attending college in Texas because our out-of-state tuition was cheaper than their in-state tuition. I only saw them that one year because the following year, the legislature raised out-of-state tuition and Texas was no longer as appealing to New Yorkers as it once was. Continue reading

You Can’t Get Merit Aid From a College You Never Apply To

hand rejecting bag of money representing applying to colleges without generous merit aidIn my last post, I defined Expected Family Contribution (EFC), how it works theoretically, and what happens in the real world. For many families, the difference between theory and practice is irrelevant since their EFC is much higher than their actual ability to pay. There are steps that you can take to reduce your EFC, and you should definitely do if you have the opportunity. However, the fact is that you’re likely to do more to cut the cost of college by targeting the right school than by trying to rearrange your finances. Continue reading

Why Your EFC Should be how you Start Your College Search

getting started game piecesWhat is EFC?

To start your college search, you need to be able to answer this question. If you’re like most parents starting the college search process, you don’t have a clue what EFC means. In fact, most parents don’t understand until they are well into the college application process which is not a good thing.

So what is EFC? EFC stands for “Expected Family Contribution” and is the term used by the Federal Government and colleges to state how much parents are expected to pay for their child’s college education. Continue reading

31 Potential Colleges for Students with a Full-Pay Hook

Money representing colleges for full pay studentsFamilies that can’t afford to pay the sticker-price for private colleges need to do two things. The first is identify which schools are more likely to provide need or merit aid. The second is avoid those that are less likely to do so. This means steering clear of “dream” schools that may rank in terms of prestige but subsequently aren’t as generous with financial aid as some of their peers. Continue reading

Colleges that Meet 100% of Financial Need Depending on How You Define Need

Chained money representing colleges that meet 100% of needProbably the biggest shock families experience as they consider their college options is finding out how much they’re expected to pay for college. But I think a close second would be how few colleges are actually able to meet the family’s admittedly flawed calculated need. According to CollegeData.com, only 74 colleges and universities claim to meet 100% of a student’s financial need.

If a family is able to show financial need, good luck in finding a school the will actually cover it. Continue reading

76 Best Bets for College Merit Aid

Money from faucet representing best bets for merit aidAre you serious about looking for an affordable education at a good college? Don’t think you’ll qualify for any significant financial aid? Then it’s time to begin looking beyond the rankings and paying attention to the data that tells you how much money schools are giving students. In this post, I’ll provide a list of best bets for college merit based scholarships. Continue reading

10 Things Parents Do That Increase College Student Debt

Parents with college grad representing how parents can help avoid student debtWe have all heard the horror stories of college graduates with staggering debt and little hope of repaying it before retiring. The obvious cause of the problem is the seemingly ever-increasing cost of college.

But here’s the thing. When you read the stories about graduates struggling with student loans after graduation, you’ll almost always see that they had alternatives to the large student loans they ended up with. With the high cost of college, more than ever teens need their parents to provide financial guidance when applying to college. Unfortunately, rather than supplying a financial reality check, too many parents make the situation worse by doing the following: Continue reading

5 Financial Aid Strategies Parents of Sophomores Need to Know Before the Spring Semester

parents considering financial aid strategiesParents of sophomores need to know that their students’ college financial aid awards will be calculated on the base year that starts January 1 of the student’s sophomore year. This means that the fall semester of the student’s sophomore year will be the last chance parents have to implement some financial aid strategies that could significantly increase their student’s eligibility for need-based financial aid. Continue reading

3 Things You Need to Know Before You Submit Your Early Decision Application

Student thinking about early decisionThe first of the Early Decision college admissions deadlines are approaching and students are nervously revising their college application essays. However, before they submit their application, they need to remember that there are reasons why people criticize Early Decision as primarily benefiting rich kids. As students make one final review of their application, they should make sure they know the following three things about Early Decision. Continue reading