6 Ways a Gap Year Can Save You Money

Student standing between 2 paths representing how a gap year can save you money

Gap years have become increasingly popular among graduating high school students. A gap year is when students delay starting college for year to pursue other interests. Generally, the students have already been accepted to a college and ask to defer their admissions for a year but it’s not necessary. Nor do students have to pay for high price programs to have a meaningful gap year. In fact, a well thought out and executed gap year experience can actually save students significant money. 1. Graduate on Time Gap years are about exploration and experience. And remember, they don’t have to cost a lot of money.  When students take the time to explore their different interests, they can make more informed decisions when deciding on a major and classes. This is important because stude ...


What are College Grants?

Two kids asking what are college financial aid grants?

What does it mean? College grants are a type of financial aid you do not have to repay. In simple terms, it’s free money to spend on college. They fall under the category of “gift aid.” How does it affect how much you pay for college? Obviously, the more grants you have, the less money you will pay for college. The reason you need to pay attention to grants is because many people see the term “grant” and assume that it is awarded based on need. This is not always true. The largest and most well-known grant is probably the federal Pell Grant program. Pell Grants are awarded based on your EFC. Students must demonstrate financial need to qualify for a Pell Grant. However, the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant, another federal program, is not based on need. In fa ...


What Does It Mean To Be Wait Listed?

students standing in line representing the truth about being wailt listed by a college

For a certain group of high school seniors, April is the cruelest month. Not for any of T.S. Elliot’s reasons but because they have been wait listed at their dream college. Many will spend the month frantically tracking down any and all possibilities for getting off the waitlist. They will agonize over their unknown chances of actually getting accepted. However, come May 1st, unless they still believe in the tooth fairy, they will go ahead and send in their deposit to one of the schools that they did get into and hope for better news in the coming days.


What Does EFC Mean? Expected Family Contribution

What does EFC mean

What does it mean? EFC stands for Expected Family Contribution. When students submit their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) or PROFILE financial aid forms, the information is used to calculate their EFC. The EFC is the amount of money that the family is expected to be able to pay for college. Colleges use the EFC to determine how much financial aid to award students. How does your EFC affect how much you’ll pay for college? Theoretically, the EFC should be the maximum amount students would pay to attend any college. If a college charged more than the EFC, the student would receive financial aid to make up the difference. If the college charged less than the EFC, the student would not be eligible for any need-based aid.   There are two major areas where the reality of ...


How to Choose a College

statue of whomen thinking about how to choose a college

Now that you have all of your college acceptances, how do you decide which college to attend? Easy, just go to your favorite college rankings and pick the one with the highest rank! Just kidding. Of course, if that’s the way you originally chose which colleges to apply to, there’s probably not much reason for you to change your approach now. But for those who think that college rankings might have a few issues or are concerned about paying for college, read on for some advice on how to choose a college.


Financial Aid & Merit Scholarship Survey

Financial Aid & Merit Scholarship

Each year families receive financial aid and merit scholarship award information. In an effort to create a national database of actual financial aid and scholarship information, we are asking families to share their award information. All information is collected anonymously. The goal of this effort is to share financial aid and merit scholarship information with families that are entering the college admissions process in coming years. In addition, we hope to analyze this data to provide more in-depth insights into how colleges award their money. Loading…


What To Know About Your Financial Aid Awards

Comparing Financial Aid Awards

If it’s past the deadlines for submitting college applications, your student is either waiting to hear about all their admissions and financial aid awards or you have them all and you’re deciding how to compare them.  At this point in the process, don’t overlook the following …. Make an “apples to apples” comparison of financial aid awards. Parents shouldn’t need a PhD in economics to read financial aid award letters, but sometimes it feels like that. Many award letters are constructed to make it less than clear how much money a school is providing and how much the family is expected to borrow. We suggest using the Compare Schools tool from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau because it pulls up existing data for schools as you enter their nam ...


Why You Should Care About Student Loan Default Rates by State

graduation hat and money representing student loan default rates

How do you know if college is worth it? Given the ever increasing costs of getting a four-year degree and the horror stories of underemployed graduates, it only makes sense to wonder if the cost is justified. There are various attempts at calculating the Return on Investment (ROI) for colleges. At this point they’re more interesting than actually useful in comparing schools although that may change soon. So we decided to look at something much more basic, student loan default rates.


What You Need to Know About the FAFSA Before Your Senior Year in High School

student reading what she neets to know about the FAFSA

Too many families don’t start thinking about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) until the fall of their student’s senior year. After all, you can’t even submit the form until October 1st so why start worrying sooner? Because the FAFSA is just the final step in the financial aid process. And if you don’t take the right steps before you actually submit the application, you can dramatically reduce your opportunities for financial aid. Your Financial Aid Application Starts in the Sophomore Year The FAFSA uses your financial information for the tax year that starts January of the sophomore year. This means that most families’ EFC is determined before students decide which colleges to apply to. Why Do You Need to Know This? Because for some familie ...


Find Out How Generous Colleges Are With Financial Aid And Merit Scholarships

Do you know how generous colleges are with their financial aid and merit scholarships? By the time students get to high school, hopefully their parents have saved whatever they can for college, but most likely that won’t be enough. At this point, the most impactful steps families can take is to make sure students do as well as possible on the ACT/SAT, keep up their GPA, and most importantly, be strategic about the colleges their student applies to.  As part of the college search process, families need to research the financial aid giving history of schools. What this means is families need to understand basic information about how colleges award money. For example: Does the college award merit scholarships? Not all colleges do. So if you’re a family that will not qualify for ne ...