Facebook Live with TuitionFit.org

Attention Please sign for TuitionFit Facebook LiveParents of high school seniors and those who help them need to make the time to watch Monday’s Facebook Live with Mark Salisbury of  TuitionFit.org.

Why? Because this application is the first major shift in righting the information balance in paying for college.

Mark Salisbury, the founder, has found the key to making the sharing of students’ financial aid awards more than some version of “paying it forward” for the next generation.

The difference is that TuitionFit allows colleges to see what students have been offered as well. So, yes, you can find out if other students have better awards and if you should ask for more. But more importantly, colleges that you didn’t even apply to can see your award and offer you a better one. And that can significantly change your admissions prospects and budget AFTER you’ve already submitted your applications.

I’ve spent some time talking with Mark and asking him why colleges would bother with this. It’s simple-demographics. High school classes have been declining since 2011 and more colleges are starting to chase fewer students. This system provides colleges with a valuable tool to help them  fill their classes and get their finances in order. And, yes, for those who haven’t realized it yet, colleges are businesses that want to reduce uncertainty and lower the costs of doing business.

So make time to participate in the Facebook Live. It will be on the DIYCollegeRankings Facebook Page, Monday, January 21st, 7:30 pm CST. Get your questions ready and I’ll see you there.

5 Rules About Paying for College That Most Parents Don’t Know

Woman reading about paying for college (Updated for 2019) If you want to get any financial aid, you need to submit college financial aid applications such as the FAFSA and PROFILE. This is obviously a critical step: no application, no aid. But if you want to pay less for college, it certainly isn’t the first step.

The fact is that the FAFSA is just one of the final steps of many in paying for college. I’m not talking about the savings account you were going to set up for your kids when they were little but never got around to. What I’m talking about are the things you need to know before students even start applying to colleges. Before you even start making a college search list, much less worry about completing the FAFSA, you should know the following five things about paying for college. Continue reading

Should You Pay Someone to Complete the FAFSA?

Hand raising help sign in pile of crumpled papers representing FAFSA preparers(Updated Dec 2018) In July of 2015, the United States government finally gained control of the FAFSA.com website. Until then, the website was owned and operated by Student Financial Aid Service, Inc. which charged students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Over the years, FAFSA.com became the  poster child for financial aid scams designed to take advantage students and families trying to get financial aid for college. So does its demise represent the final statement of whether or not students should pay for a private financial aid consultant to complete the FAFSA? Continue reading

Maybe You Can Get Money From a College You’ve Never Applied To

Student happy about paying less for college using TuitionFitWhen talking to people about paying for college, one of my mantras is that you can’t get money from a college you’ve never applied to. Well, that’s about to change with a new app called TuitionFit. TuitionFit is an absolute game changer in the college money arena and every family needs to know about it. Because if you use TuitionFit, you just could get money from a college you’ve never applied to.

Continue reading

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