What are Net Price Calculators?

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What does it mean? Colleges provide Net Price Calculators (NPC) so that students can estimate their cost of attendance based on their financial status. Colleges are required to provide an estimate based on the what other students have paid with similar financial situations. The cost includes deducting any need-based grant aid that the student is likely to qualify for but not loans. The number generated by the NPC does not include any possible loans or work-study students may qualify for.


What is need-blind admission?

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What does it mean? Need-blind admissions means that a colleges does not take into consideration students’ financial aid status when making admission decisions. This is the opposite of need-aware admissions where a college does consider students’ financial need as part of the admission process. For most private colleges, this isn’t an either or situation. Often, a certain percentage of the class will be admitted under need-blind conditions with the remainder of the class admitted under need-aware or need-sensitive conditions.


41 Most Expensive Public Colleges for Low-Income Students

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Most low income students shouldn’t count on financial aid to pay completely for college. The number of colleges in the country that meet 100% of financial need is less than 100. Out of over 1,500 four-year institutions with 500 or more full-time undergraduates, only around 5% will meet 100% of financial need. And these are some of the most competitive colleges in the country.


What is the Common Data Set?

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What does it mean? The Common Data Set refers to data collected by a group of publishers including US News Best College Rankings, The College Board, Petersons, and Wintergreen Orchard. The data includes information that is not part of government data including percentage of students receiving merit aid and the percentage of students that have financial need met. Approximately half of all colleges post their Common Data Set information on their websites for public viewing.


The Very Short List of Colleges that Meet 100% of Need

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As families start to encounter sticker prices during their college search, they are often revived from their state of shock by soothing voices whispering, “it’s ok, it doesn’t include financial aid.” Students and their parents learn the conventional wisdom that hardly anyone pays full price at private colleges. While true, unfortunately this is when too many families push their financial worries aside and decide to hope for the best in terms of financial aid. The problem is that while most colleges will provide some financial aid, very few will actually meet 100% of need.


What is financial aid gapping?

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What does it mean? When students submit their financial aid application, they receive a number they are expected to pay called the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). When you subtract the EFC from the total cost of attendance for a specific college, the amount left over is considered the student’s financial need. If a college’s financial aid award doesn’t cover all of the student’s need, the student has been “gapped.” Gapping refers to colleges not covering 100% of students’ financial need. How does it affect how much you pay for college? Gapping means that families should consider their EFC the minimum amount they will pay for college instead of the maximum. There are only around 80 colleges that claim to meet 100% of students’ need. These ...


Who Decides What are the Best and Most Interesting Colleges?

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I was recently working on a custom list of colleges and the client was “confused” as to why two colleges were on the list, McDaniel College and Valparaiso University. She couldn’t find them listed in her Fiske Guide and so had no idea why we had selected the colleges. My problem isn’t with the client wanting to know why the colleges were included on the custom list. My problem is the thinking that because the schools aren’t included in the Fiske Guide it means they aren’t worthy of consideration.


What is merit aid?

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What does it mean? Merit aid is a type of college financial aid. Colleges provide merit aid as an incentive for select students to attend their institution. Generally, these students have academic qualifications that would contribute to raising the college’s academic profile.   Often students do not even have to apply for institutional merit scholarships. Students are automatically considered for available merit awards as part of the admissions process. Colleges will often list the GPA and test requirements for these automatic scholarships. 


Why Your College Search Should Start with Your State University

picture of college graduates representing why you should compare collegesShould Start with Your State University

The college search process and figuring out how to pay for it can be confusing and intimidating so it’s not surprising that many families don’t even know where to start. For most people, the obvious place to start is with their state public universities. The logic is simple, private schools are going to be more expensive than your public option unless you receive significant financial aid. Knowing how much your state public university costs gives you an idea of how much financial aid you would need to make a private college competitive financially.


What is average net price?

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What does it mean? Average Net Price is a term defined by the federal government which is the average amount students paid to attend a college after deducting gift aid. According to CollegeNavigator, the college search website for the National Center for Education Statistics, Average net price is generated by subtracting the average amount of federal, state/local government, or institutional grant or scholarship aid from the total cost of attendance. Total cost of attendance is the sum of published tuition and required fees, books and supplies, and the weighted average for room and board and other expenses.