3 Simple Steps for Making College More Affordable – Part 2

Read Part 1 here:  3 Simple Steps for Making College More Affordable

In Part 1, we looked at ways to better your chances at scholarships. Here in Part 2, we’ll get into strategies that maximize funding and finding colleges that give out the most cash.

Take Advantage of Every Strategy You Can To Maximize the Amount of Funding You Get

When you’re looking at colleges, you need to determine what the total cost of going to a certain school is (tuition, room and board, books, meal plans, etc), and you’ll also want to know what your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is (or could be).

In other words… how much of the bill you’re most likely going to have to foot.

The colleges will use this equation to determine your aid package: Cost of Attendance – EFC = Need

As long as your EFC is less then the Cost of Attendance, then you’re eligible for Need at that particular school. For some families, there’s a lot that can be done to lower your EFC. For others, there may not be. All I’m saying is that you want to take advantage of whatever strategies you can to keep your EFC as low as legally possible for your particular financial situation.

Do NOT lie! That’s very important to remember. But DO use any possible strategies that you are eligible for to lower what your out-of-pocket expenses could be.

Avoid capital gains, pay off debts, delay gifts from family members, make big purchases now… these are all perfectly legitimate ways to bring down your EFC. Learn about what assets are considered ‘includable’ and what assets are considered ‘non-includable.’  But you must keep in mind, liquidity is KEY during the college years and also during tough economic times.  You don’t want to spend all of your money just to try and lower your EFC if you’re going to need that money for college, etc…

You can find out more details on a lot of these methods… in my report,  How To Reduce Your Expected Family Contribution.

The bottom line is: you can increase the odds of receiving a much better aid package by taking advantage of whatever legal methods you can to lower your EFC.

How to Find the Colleges that Give Out the Most Cash

Unless your child is a below average student or they’re applying to the most elite schools in the country… the fact is, they’ll probably be accepted to 70% of the places they apply!

That’s great news for you because it puts you in control of the situation. YOU get to pick and choose, not the other way around.

And it’s important you pick a school that’s going to give you the most money… and the type of money that you don’t have to pay back.

Your financial need is determined like I said earlier by subtracting your EFC from the cost of the school. Just because you need $20,000 for college, doesn’t mean that’s what a school’s going to give you.

That’s why it’s crucial you pick a school that has a track record of handing out great financial aid packages. Some schools will pay 100% of your financial need…while others will only pick up the tab to the tune of 20-30%.

Also, it’s important to know what kind of money these schools give out. Is it “free” money that you’re not on the hook to pay back? Or is it “self help” money like student loans that your child will be paying well into their 40’s?

You can find out what kind and how much money specific schools give out, one of two ways.

Contact their financial aid office and speak to an officer there. Sometimes they’ll be up front and tell you without a problem. More often, they won’t.  They’ll give you roundabout answers (ie. “we try to be very fair with the amount of aid we give, etc…”) and will keep those numbers confidential.

Certain college funding advisors should have up-to-date information and access to these numbers… and most will supply them to you as part of their services.  Typically, they can run a list of colleges that you are considering and be able to tell you (in advance) what the schools typically give, how much is free money, how much is loans, etc…

Whatever you choose to do, just make sure you do it early. You’ll avoid wasting time (and money!) visiting and applying to schools who won’t contribute much to your child’s education costs.

Take the ball out of the colleges’ hands and put it back into yours. Once you know their numbers, you’re back in control of the process and – with the proper financial and student positioning strategies – can choose your student’s destination.

These three steps can help bring down your out-of-pocket college costs significantly. Sending your child to their dream school doesn’t need to cost a fortune. It’s an expensive proposition for sure, but it can become way more manageable if you take advantage of the 3 strategies I’ve highlighted here today.

Don’t skimp on your child’s education… but don’t overpay for it, either!

To your successful college search…

Kind Regards,

Scott Weingold
Publisher, CollegeMadeSimple.com

Related Articles:

How to Pick the College That’ll Give You the Best Financial Aid Package
Finding Colleges with Low Tuition
How to Reduce Your Expected Family Contribution

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Editor's Note: Scott Weingold has been ranked the #1 “College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About” in the entire country by CollegeStats.org.  He has co-authored the book, “The Real Secret To Paying For College. The Insider’s Guide To Sending Your Child To College – Without Spending Your Life’s Savings.” Scott also publishes a popular free online newsletter, “College Funding Made Simple" which reveals insider’s tips, methods, and strategies for beating the high cost of college.

Scott is the co-founder and a principal of the widely renown College Planning Network, LLC – the nation’s largest and most reputable college admissions and financial aid planning firm. CPN is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of College Funding Advisors, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Scott, along with his college funding advisory team, helps thousands of families throughout the country with their college planning needs and offers a series of free educational webinars and workshops on “How To Pay For College Without Going Broke In The Process!” He's been featured or mentioned in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Yahoo News, TheStreet.com, Voice America with Ron Adams, Crains Cleveland Business, and on Cleveland Connection with James McIntyre.  Scott has published numerous articles and is a professional speaker who has addressed thousands of audiences online and offline throughout the United States.  His actionable insights and candid, open approach have earned him & his team numerous media interviews, citations, and speaking opportunities, and his free online video workshop is one of the Internet’s most widely viewed pieces in the college funding space.