Part One: Do your finance homework before making college visits
The car is packed and you are ready to hit the road for a summer trip of colleges with your soon-to-be senior high school senior. While your student is checking out the majors offered, the size of the dorm rooms, and the quality of the food, you’re probably questioning about the price tag. Unfortunately, you can not learn your exact “bottom line” at a college until your child’s senior year when he or she applies for college entrance , scholarships, and financial aid. Nevertheless , the initial college visit is a perfect time to collect information about financial aid and pricing practices, and to establish a general concept of the aid your student might receive.
First Phase: Look at each college’s online learning resources
The first step is preparing for your visit. Research each college’s website to learn about the types of financial aid offered, including merit scholarships. Make use of the college’s net cost calculator , which will give you an estimate of what your college student might qualify for in scholarships and grants. Be aware that this is only an estimate and really should not be considered the final word about how much your student will get.
Second Step: Use other websites to estimation financial aid availability
Lastly, use college search tools like The College Board ( www.bigfuture.collegeboard.org ) and The College Navigator ( http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/ ) to research average need-based financial aid awards and non-need based scholarships each and every college, keeping in mind how your family’s income and your child’s academic user profile compare to those of the “average” applicant at that school.
Third Step: Stay tuned to College Coach’s blog
Take those advice we’ve given here plus go start your homework. Return next week when we’ll provide you with some questions to ask an admissions or financial aid counselor that will explain what you have already learned from the institutional website.
Kathy Ruby is a member of College Coach’s team associated with college finance experts . Before joining College Coach, Kathy was as a Senior Financial Aid Officer at St . Olaf College and Shippensburg University or college of Pennsylvania .