College can be expensive. You need a plan. Costs vary from school to school. Generally private schools are more expensive than public schools. Not only consider tuition, but fees, books, supplies and living expenses (for example room and board), health insurance, childcare, and transportation, as well as spending money. All these expenses comprise what is called the Cost of Attendance or COA. The cost of attendance is different for every school, and varies from student to student.
Affordability, Cost and Aid: Calculators allows you to evaluate the cost of attending college while taking into consideration how much financial aid you might receive. Following are some calculators offered by FinAid:
Calculators: FinAid's custom calculators can help you figure out how much school will cost, how much you need to save and how much aid you'll need. The most popular calculators are the College Cost Projector, Savings Plan Designer (Flat Contribution), Expected Family Contribution and Financial Aid Calculator and Loan Payment Calculator.
Cost of Attendance Calculator (COA): Each school is responsible for determining the annual average COA for its students using a standard definition established by the US Congress. This figure is used to calculate your financial aid eligibility. Remember, once you're in school, your actual expenses will vary based on your lifestyle!
|Example of Attendance Costs
Expected Family Contribution: Expected Family Contribution helps determine your eligibility for financial aid. Factors such as family size, number of family members in college, what the family has in saving’s, and the family’s current earning all play into determining the Expected Family Contribution – what the family is expected to contribute to a child’s higher education expense each year.
The FAFSA: All students seeking aid must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is required for students to be considered for federal financial aid and some state aid programs. Recommended submission dates range from Jan. 2 to March 1 for the school year. Some states may have earlier deadlines. You’ll need to get all your tax information together – for both parents and the student. Your guidance office may provide you with a copy of the FAFSA or refer you to www.fafsa.ed.gov to complete one online.
Completing the FAFSA, is an introductory publication from the U.S. Department of Education for students and families. It provides instructions on how to complete the form either online or on paper. Make sure you complete the form correctly and that both student and parent signatures are included. If the form is not completed correctly, it will be returned to you – which can result in delays.
Submit your completed FAFSA directly to the processor designated on the form. Be sure to submit the FAFSA before the earliest deadline of the colleges you are considering.
Approximately four weeks after you submit your FAFSA, the processor will send you a Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR will tell you your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) – how much your family is expected to pay towards the cost of college. Make sure the SAR is accurate. If you need to make corrections, return part 2 of the SAR to the processor’s address noted on the report.
Financial aid administrators at the colleges to which you have been accepted will verify the information from your FAFSA, determine your aid eligibility, and then send you a financial aid award letter. This letter will state the amount of aid for which you are eligible and the types of aid (grants, loans, and work study) that make up your aid package.
If you have been accepted at more than one college, compare the different schools’ aid packages and academic programs to select the college that best meets your family’s needs and your education goals.
Determine if your family can cover costs when you combine the aid packages and savings. If there is ay shortfall, parents should consider Federal PLUS loans.