Financial Aid and Scholarship Information
As college costs continue to rise, especially for private schools, more and more families will be pressed to produce the total costs of college for their children. As a result, many will seek financial aid, which is customarily awarded on the basis of need. Scholarships, on the other hand, are typically awarded on the basis of merit or extraordinary accomplishment.
Financial aid is distributed through the college's financial aid office. The required forms and deadlines vary from school to school, so you must contact each college to which you will apply. All schools require the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which determines if you qualify for financial aid. Once you are qualified, each college will determine the amount you receive. This financial package is the difference between the expense of attending a particular college and the financial resources of the family that are available to meet the expense.
College expenses include tuition, fees, room and board, books, incidental expenses and transportation to and from home. The typical student's financial resources include savings, summer earnings, awards and scholarships from outside the college, parent support and loans. The primary source of parental contribution usually comes from savings, and parents are expected to make a maximum effort to assist in meeting the college expenses. In determining the expected family contribution, income, assets, expenses, number of children attending college, family size and special circumstances are taken into consideration.
College funding strategies include:
Pre-payment of tuition. If the family can pay tuition without assistance, many colleges have an option that will allow parents to prepay all four years' tuition at the freshman year tuition amount which avoids tuition increases, which average about 6% per year.
- Merit (non-need-based) are awarded by schools, and national, state or local organizations based on the following qualifications:
- High academic performance/ strong GPA
- High score on the PSAT/NMSQT taken junior year
- Winning an essay contest
- Presidential Scholarships (incentive scholarships offered by schools to attract students of a higher caliber than they usually admit
- Need-based are awarded based on financial need which is determined by the FAFSA or CSS PROFILE report. The source of these awards can be from the schools or national, state and local organizations.
- Athletic. NCAA Div I and II schools can give athletic scholarships to outstanding athletes. There are some academic requirements as well as minimum SAT scores. Scholarships usually do not continue if the student stops playing the sport due to injury, choice, or academic probation.
- ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) Scholarships. The four branches of the armed services offer full or partial scholarships. They cover the cost of tuition, books, and fees for all four years at participating schools. Admission is very competitive. There is also an obligation to serve in the military for a designated number of years, which varies with the amount of the award.
- With some research and time, numerous other scholarships, loans and fellowship funds can be found for students. The CCC has reference materials about many of these programs. There are also numerous Internet sites about these programs. The qualifications for these programs can be as varied as:
- Intended major
- Racial /ethnic origin or religious affiliation
- Fraternal organizations, unions, veterans or employers of parents
- Disabilities or other unique applicant characteristics
- The New England Regional Student Program (RSP) Apple Tuition Savings Plan. Residents of the New England states pay significantly reduced tuition at out-of-state public colleges and universities within New England if they pursue certain academic programs/majors not offered by their home state's public institutions. All 80 schools in New England participate voluntarily in the RSP. They offer hundreds of these academic programs and majors at reduced tuition to New England residents. Also, RSP undergraduate applicants receive admissions preference over other out-of-state applicants at the participating schools. Information on this program can be found in the CCC.
- Other Options to Defray the High Cost of Education:
- Community College. Complete your freshman and sophomore years at a nearby community college, then transfer to a four-year school for junior and senior years. The degree will have the prestige associated with the four-year school, but at a fraction of the cost.
- Acceleration. Pick up college credits through Advanced Placement, Proficiency Examinations, or CLEP programs. Take four years of studies in three. You'll save on the lower summer tuition and avoid the four-year inflationary cost increase.
- Co-op programs Alternate a year/semester of studies with a year/semester of work (related to your major).