Don’t choose a college based on the sticker price
"Sticker prices" of colleges these days are so high that the numbers can make one's heart skip a beat or two in financial fear. Well, we're here to tell you that the intimidating cost of college shouldn't stop you from attending the college of your dreams. The truth is, you can make college more affordable than you think. Here are the realities of affording a college education.
Colleges use the same formula-based system to determine how much your family can pay for college. This amount is known as the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). If the formula determines that your family can afford $10,000 per year, whether the actual 'sticker' price of the college is $20,000, $30,000, or $40,000 per year, your out-of-pocket costs should still be $10,000
In other words, your EFC will be the same across all colleges, except in the case of some elite, top-tier private colleges which apply their own formulas to decide how much your family can afford. The gap between your EFC and the cost of attendance should be covered by financial aid, consisting of grants that don't have to be paid back, low-interest loans, and work-study jobs.
The gap is not always covered, however; when that happens, you'll need to consider private student loans. Check out SimpleTuition's loan comparison tool for more information. Here's the good news: the majority of people qualify for financial aid. Whether your aid package will fully cover the amount of aid you're eligible for is another story.
In case you missed it, we want to repeat this loud and clear: in most cases, you'll pay roughly the same for a college whether it is a public or private institution. Our advice: study hard and go for it! Apply for the college of your dreams and maximize your financial aid opportunities, so you don't have to face the full 'sticker price.'