How to Make College Cheaper: Part 2 – Strategies | College Made Simple

Getting the best education doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank. Here’s how you can reduce your total out-of-pocket college expenses.

In our last report, we looked at the when, where and how of scholarships. In Part II below, we’ll focus on strategies for maximizing the funding you can squeeze out of schools.

There is one method that beats all others hands down.

Reduce Your EFC

Your EFC – Expected Family Contribution – is, quite simply, the amount your family is expected to contribute towards your education each year.

Your need is calculated by subtracting your EFC from the costs of attending school. The lower your EFC, the more need you qualify for – and thus the more grants and loans you can get.

Reducing your EFC is a perfectly legitimate and highly recommended way to help pay for college. Here’s the best way to do it.

Be Honest. If you get caught in a lie, all bets are off. You might receive fines, you can go to prison for up to five years, you could be required to pay back any moneys received, and you could be declared ineligible for any aid going forward.

What’s more, the government audits a relatively high number of applications – well more than the IRS does tax returns. Your chances of being caught are high, and the penalties are astronomical. It’s not even close to worth it.

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Will You Get a “Fair” Financial Aid Award?

Well, the truth is — Most families never find out!  They’ll simply take what’s offered.  And many will pay more for college than they need to… sometimes up to tens of thousands of dollars more.

That’s one of the reasons we developed our Free College Funding Analysis.

One phone call with one of our education consultants can quickly identify a family’s college funding situation… and identify any number of ways that can help them.

Click here to learn more about our Free College Funding Analysis.

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Time Your Application. Be truthful – but be wise. Everything you say on your FAFSA has to be accurate for the date submitted – meaning you can apply before you get that raise or bonus… or after you’ve spent a large chunk of cash on a new car or home renovation. The liquid money you have… and the smaller your income stream… the smaller your EFC.

Spend from the student’s piggy bank. The FAFSA has different contribution percentages for different relatives. A student, for instance, is expected to spend the most in terms of incomes and assets, while parents are expected to spend a much smaller chunk of their money. Once you get to grandparents, the percentage drops precipitously. Spend from the inside out.

Avoid extra income. If your stock portfolio is doing brilliantly – wonderful. Leave it in stocks. They count against you much less as assets, instead of as income.

However, if you took a bath on a stock deal, feel free to sell your shares and use that loss to lower your income dramatically.

Do as much as you can to lower your EFC, and you’ll be well ahead of the game.

In the final part of our series, we’ll take a look at the best way to choose a college.

To your successful college admissions and funding,

Scott Weingold

Related Articles:

How To Make College Cheaper

College Tuition Discounts

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  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,, 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.