50-50 Highlights: Colleges for Low-Income Students–and which to avoid

sttudent representing average net price for families with low income(Updated for 2019) Robert J. Kibbee, the former Chancellor of City University New York, observed “Over the years, we have come to identify quality in a college not by whom it serves but by how many students it excludes. Let us not be a sacred priesthood protecting the temple, but rather the fulfillers of dreams.” And if the dreams fulfilled aren’t going to be determined by family income, colleges are going to need to provide substantial financial aid to the neediest students. Continue reading

50-50 Highlights: Colleges Where Students Are Most Likely to Graduate with Debt

golden graduate figure holding on to debtIn case you’ve been in a coma and haven’t heard, there is a student loan crisis. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the total student loan debt of $1.46 billion exceeds that of consumer credit card debt. Apparently, students are borrowing too much to pay for college. Of course, you could argue that maybe they’re not borrowing too much, they just don’t have jobs that will allow them to make their loan payments. Either way, it doesn’t change the fact that students are often borrowing more than they can reasonably repay. Continue reading

7 Things You Should Know about College Net Price Calculators

Piggy bank with calculator and money reprenting what you need to know about net price calculatorsWhen students start creating their final college list, smart families make sure they use the Net Price Calculator on all possibilities before adding them to the final list. Net Price Calculators (NPC) provide families with the estimated price they will pay after deducting for gift aid. This is called the average net price. Essentially, NPCs provide the average paid by students with similar financial background excluding loans and work-study. They have only been around since 2011 and can be a valuable tool for families targeting colleges generous with financial aid. However, they aren’t perfect and anyone who uses NPCs need to keep the following in mind:
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50-50 Highlights: Best Public Universities for Low Income Students by State

Stacks of coins and graduation hat representing Best Public Universities for Low Income StudentsGiven that very few private colleges meet 100% of financial need, the cheapest option for most low-income students will be one of their state’s public universities. There will always be some low-income students that will have their full need met at private colleges, but they will be the exception. The majority will find themselves “gapped” and forced to consider private loans to make up the difference. Continue reading

4 Easy Steps to Find Colleges for Potential Merit Scholarships

Person crossing stepping stones representing steps to finding merit scholarshipsFor those looking for affordable colleges, I’m updating this post. Because I’ve updated the spreadsheet several times since I wrote this post, some of the numbers in the text won’t match the results in the graphics. You can see a video demonstration at the end of the post.

In this post, I’m going to show you how to use the DIY College Rankings Spreadsheet to find private colleges most likely to provide generous merit aid in just four easy steps. These are schools that students with high EFC’s should target for non-need based aid. This is in no way a guarantee. Rather, consider this a way to improve your chances for merit aid given the available information. Continue reading

50-50 Highlights: 54 Public Colleges for Merit Aid

Piggy bank on calculator representing best public colleges for merit aid(The following has been updated for 2019.) Merit scholarships from colleges aren’t simply a way for schools to reward students for accomplishments, it’s part of the supply and demand of paying for college. Colleges use merit aid as a way to increase the supply of “accomplished” students at their schools. This is why the most competitive colleges in the country such as Princeton and Harvard don’t offer merit scholarships–they have no problem attracting high achieving students to their schools. Continue reading

50-50 Highlights: Colleges with the Best Financial Aid

boy digging for buried treasure representing colleges with most generous financial aidThe list of 50-50 colleges and universities is designed to provide students and their families with options for good schools where students are likely to be admitted. What makes a 50-50 school even better is when it provides generous financial aid. This can come in the form of scholarships and need-based grants. And quite a few 50-50 colleges do and are worth looking into. Continue reading

7 Things You Need to Know When Looking for College Scholarships

A maze with money showing difficulty in finding college scholarshipsWith all of the college scholarship search websites available, it would seem that getting a scholarship to pay for school has never been easier. Unigo’s scholarship match offers to match students to 3.6 million college scholarships worth over $14 billion. And Scholarships.com tells you that there are over 3.7 million scholarships worth $19 billion just waiting for you. How hard can it be to get a scholarship?

Actually, the truth is that the internet has made it easy to find out about numerous college scholarships students might qualify for. The student still has to apply for the scholarship and is competing with all of the other students who used the same search websites to find the scholarship. Continue reading

7 Ways to Compare Colleges

couple sitting on sofa reading about the 7 ways to compare collegesIf you have kids old enough for you to be thinking about the college admissions process and how you’ll pay for it, you also need to be thinking about how you’re going to compare the colleges. Because the fact is that you’re going to be comparing lots of colleges, the sooner the better. You’re going to compare colleges when you decide which colleges to visit, which admissions reps to talk to at the college fair, which colleges to apply to, and which one to ultimately attend. So take this opportunity to consider the various ways you can actually compare colleges and their relative worth to your family’s situation. Continue reading