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Making college affordable is often the biggest obstacle in the college application process. Here are some ways to make college more affordable!

Understand Net Price vs. Sticker Price

When assessing college affordability, the first thing to understand is the difference between sticker price and net price. Sticker price is the published tuition price before any sort of financial aid (scholarships, grants, loans, work study etc.) is factored in. The net price is what a student actually pays after financial aid. It’s very rare that students pay the sticker price. 

Complete your FAFSA

To determine college affordability, you must fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). This becomes available here on October 1st for the following school year. You will complete the FAFSA for the first time during your senior year of high school. Your FAFSA application generates your EFC (Estimated Family Contribution). EFC is the number the government formulates based on your family’s financial situation to show how much your family can reasonably contribute towards your college education annually. Be sure to fill out your FAFSA as early as possible because certain types of aid run out.  You need to complete the FAFSA annually in college to reapply for aid. Some schools may require additional information, like completion of a CSS Profile, to award funding so be sure to check your schools’ websites!

Utilize the Net Price Calculator (NPC)

Colleges use your EFC in hopes of offering enough aid to compensate for the difference between your cost of attendance and family contribution. All colleges are legally required to post a “Net Price Calculator” on their website. This allows you to plug in your EFC and enter basic information about yourself to estimate what your actual out of pocket cost of attendance could look like.

Ask your admissions counselor to go over your financial package with you and don’t be scared to ask questions. They may be able to suggest additional resources like an on-campus job or additional scholarships you could apply for. Don’t lose hope; it is possible to make your college experience affordable!