The College Cost Gap – How Much is Your Gap?

Worried about gap between cost of college and what a family can pay

As a parent, you hope you can find a way to pay for college. With college prices rising rapidly, how much college will cost has become a commonplace worry these days. To ease this concern, many parents believe that if their child works hard, gets good grades, and scores well on tests, they will get enough money from merit scholarships and private scholarships to cover most of their college costs. Unfortunately, that’s far from reality. Talking with parents in our Facebook group Paying for College 101, they say they are paying $50,000 to $100,000 or more for their child’s education, even after merit aid and scholarships.   Here are reasons why even these savvier parents are having a hard time bridging the gap. Private Scholarships Can Offset Need Awards Parents and students are o ...


What is FAFSA?

two kids researching what is fafsa

What does it mean? The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is the financial aid form that students must complete to become eligible for any federal college financial aid programs, including federal student loans and work study. Many states used it to distribute state-based financial aid. The majority of colleges require it for any institutional awards as well.


Why You Shouldn’t Take Out Private Student Loans

dog sad about students taking out private student loans

I just can’t do it. This post was supposed to be on what you need to know about taking out private student loans. I researched all the ways that private loans differ from federal student loans. You don’t need to go past the first page of a Google search to find all the comparisons which pretty much say the same thing. They all conclude that federal loans are the better option.


What You Need to Know About Student Loans

2 kids looking up what student loans mean

What does it mean? A loan is money that you have to repay with interest. Students may find loans included as part of their financial aid award, usually federal. There are a variety of loans available for students. The federal government is the largest source of student loans. However, students can find student loans from state governments, banks (referred to as private students loans), and colleges themselves


5 Overlooked Financial Aid Tips for Incoming College Freshman

Woman holding money representing Overlooked Financial Aid Tips

I know, it’s May. You’ve already picked your college and accepted your financial aid award. What more can there be to worry about except deciding whether to buy dorm furnishings and move them or wait and buy them once you arrive? Well, there are at least 5 financial aid related issues that if families don’t address now could hurt them financially come September. 1. Paying for college starts before the student ever sets foot on campus. I’m not talking about setting up a 529 plan or submitting the FAFSA. I’m talking about the fact that payment plans start as early as June for the coming year.   If you want to spread your payments out so they are as small as possible, you need to enroll in the college’s payment plan before your student ever registers for he ...


Cost of Attendance (COA): What You Need to Know

two little kids researching what coa cost of attendance means

What does COA mean? COA stands for cost of attendance which is how much it will cost a student to attend a college for a year. This is not the same thing as what a college charges. It is a federally defined term that is meant to estimate how much students spend to complete a year of college. This includes tuition, fees, room and board, books, supplies, and transportation. Depending on the student, it can include dependent care, costs related to a disability, or costs for eligible study-abroad programs.


Take A Quiz, Win A Free Report

Some colleges are more generous than others. If you are trying to pay less for college, you’ll need to do research BEFORE your student applies to college to find out which colleges offer students more money than others. Test your knowledge and take our quick quiz below. Loading…


Dangers of PLUS Loans

student pulling and pushing rock representing dangers of PLUS loan

If you are a parent considering taking out a PLUS loan for your graduating high school senior to attend college, you are almost certainly making a mistake. The fact is that if you can’t afford a college without a PLUS loan, then the college is simply not affordable. Yes, this isn’t fair. It’s hard to say no to your child who has worked so hard to get into college. But you are the adult in this situation and you need to know that the government limits the amount of money students can borrow through the Direct Student loan programs for a reason. PLUS loans are pretty much financial time bombs with few options for defusing.


What I Wish I’d Known About College Costs

What I wish I knew about college costs

As a parent, I like to learn as much as I can from other parents who have already blazed the trail on a road I’m about to embark on. Why reinvent the wheel? Right?  That’s one of the reasons Michelle Kretzschmar and I started a Facebook group (Paying For College 101), so families could learn from other families who have already been through the process. I’ve been delighted to see more experienced parents “pay it forward” by sharing their knowledge and pitfalls to help others not repeat mistakes they wished they could have avoided. From time to time, I ask members of the group to share their experience and advice with families just starting the college admissions process. The reality is, when it comes to college costs, what you don’t know can hurt you. And it can hurt you for years. If you ...


Scholarships: The Different Types and Largest Source

2 kids researching the source and different scholarship types

What does it mean? In the college financial aid world, scholarships are a form of gift aid, or free money, that you do not have to repay. The term “scholarship” is loosely used and can refer to money coming from different types of sources. Private scholarships are free money that is awarded by corporations, non-profits, community organizations, etc. – generally anyone that is not a college. Another scholarship type is merit aid–these are scholarships given out by colleges themselves.