The Fall is upon us! Baseball is going into the playoffs, the gridiron and fall sports are in full swing and dance studios are beaming with ballerinas and tapers.  For parents of high school seniors, it’s time for college planning and answering the question, How Are We Going to Pay?

Important to this question is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). The FAFSA is key to helping to determine a student’s eligibility for need-based tuition assistance and should be completed by all students interested in attending college in next September 2019. The FAFSA calculates what a student and family can anticipate to be their contribution towards a students overall educational cost. Known as the EFC (Expected Family Contribution) this number along with other details analyzed through the FAFSA are used to determine eligibility for tuition assistance.  A measurement, a calculation that many students and families realize is not in the bank and may not be available to meet the Net Tuition Costs for a specific college and/or university.


The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and its results are reviewed by many as part of the process of determining eligibility for need-based grants, self-help (loans and work-study) and in some case scholarships (merit and need-based eligibility criteria).  The FAFSA is used by colleges, universities, government agencies and private philanthropic organizations (scholarships) for the intent awarding assistance to students and families. The FAFSA is for students intending or enrolled in two or four colleges and universities, trade or professional school and graduate degree programs. Completing and submitting the FAFSA is a MUST for all college bound students and families looking for assistance with paying an educational tuition bill.


Knowledge is power! And in the case of paying for college, understanding how much a student/family will need to pay can be the difference in knowing what school on one’s list might be the most affordable. Completing the FAFSA, learning one’s EFC and using a college’s Net Price Calculator will strengthen the answer to the question, is this school a good fit? For a school may be an outstanding fit, academically and emotionally, however, if the numbers don’t work and to attend means $$$$$ in loans, maybe, just maybe it is not the right fit.


There are a few more factors that will factor into the affordability and right fit conversation.

  1. Do I understand the overall formula [Cost minus EFC = Need)?
  2. What type of merit scholarships and need-based financial aid will I receive?
  3. Do I have enough different schools in my search list?
  4. Do schools on the list know about the student?

Use the month of October to jump start the financial part of the college search and selection process. Applications will soon be on their way, financial aid and scholarship awards will follow. Understanding college cost and one’s financial picture now will make for happier times this Spring.

Just starting the college search process? Download your Free College Planning Checklist!!