First and foremost, it is critical that you make no assumptions regarding the cost of a particular college when applying for admission or financial aid. Costs published on websites and in college literature are considered 'sticker prices', and rarely does a student pay the full sticker price. In many situations the cost of attending an elite private university such as Princeton or Harvard can be comparable to the cost of attending your flagship state university. However, a thorough understanding of the financial aid process is necessary, as there are many considerations and deadlines.
With Mears College Consulting navigating the path through admissions and financial aid, your student will find a college which is a great fit academically, socially, and financially.
Below is a list of the Financial Aid topics that are discussed at Mears College Consulting LLC.
Financial Aid Literacy
Financial aid literacy is a necessity to navigate your way through the financial aid network. There are acronyms, abbreviations, federal financial aid programs, and the list goes on and on. Here is a sampling of what we discuss as part of our financial aid literacy session at Mears College Consulting:
- What are the FAFSA and the CSS Profile?
- Why is there a federal methodology (FM), institutional methodology (IM), and a consensus methodology for computing financial aid? How are they different?
- What is a Student Aid Report (SAR)?
- What is an EFC?
- What is gift aid versus self help aid?
Each family's finances are unique, and they have their own personal views on education. Mears College Consulting will work with you and discuss your family's values, attitude toward higher education, and college affordability. Mears College Consulting will help your family evaluate the price versus value relationship for post-secondary options. We will discuss financial need and the parameters for merit scholarships.
There are several online tools available to estimate your family's contribution to cover the cost of your student's college education. Mears College Consulting will advise you how to use the FAFSA4caster and each institution's Net Price Calculator. As some estimating tools are more reliable than others, Mears College Consulting will guide you through the forecasting process to obtain a best guess of what your financial aid award letters may contain.
Composing a list of 'good fit' schools
There are many factors involved when compiling a list of 'good fit' colleges to which a student will apply. And while Mears College Consulting does not prescribe to the belief that there is only one perfect school for each student, we acknowledge that some schools provide a better fit for a student than others. Mears College Consulting will work exhaustively with your student to compile a list of schools that will provide a good match academically, socially, and financially. While many students work to build a college list with an 'academic safety school', at Mears College Consulting we recognize the need for a 'financial safety school' on every student's college list as well.
Financial Aid Resources
There are many online tools and printed materials to assist you in both the application and the financial aid processes. Mears College Consulting will provide you with resources to be an educated consumer in the realm of post-secondary education and financial aid. To get you started, you can begin your research with the following trusted websites:
April 1st has arrived and your student has college acceptances and financial aid award letters in hand. Financial Aid award letters are not standard in format and can be difficult to interpret. Also, one must recall that a loan needs to be repaid, but a grant or scholarship is a gift. Let Mears College Consulting help you wade through the numbers in your award packages to determine your true out of pocket cost for each college which offered admission to your child.
College tuition is not just a one year commitment; it is at least a four year commitment and perhaps even more if student and parent loans are involved. Both the student and family need to be comfortable with the financial commitment; in many cases the investment in a college education is second only to a home mortgage in terms of cash expenditure.
Let Mears College Consulting LLC guide you along the path of surely one of the most significant investments you may ever make – your child's education!