As students are putting together their college lists, it is important to include a financial safety on their college list. A financial safety is going to be different for every student so that is why the blanket answer of a safety school with “Cal Poly” or “UC Merced” does not work. The UC’s and the California State schools are highly competitive academically and so students in most cases should not have them on any “safety” list. For some students, even after they get into a UC or Cal State school, there is still the price tag of $32,000 to $22,000 to pay annually. Students and families need to have the conversation now regarding how much a family can pay for college. Does the family have $128,000 in the bank to pay for a UC education? Does the student need to apply for financial aid? Does the student know his Expected Family Contribution (EFC) that the FAFSA determines is the amount a family should contribute to their college education? As part of the college application process, students should add a Financial Safety school on the list that they can afford and would love to attend. Sounds good? Then follow these steps:
1. Fill out the FAFSA4caster form here https://fafsa.ed.gov/FAFSA/app/f4cForm?execution=e1s2&locale=en_US to determine your family’s EFC. This amount will remain the same regardless of how many students are going to college. For most families, they are surprised by how much money they are expected to contribute to the student’s college education.
2. Does your family have a high EFC? Then look toward merit based aid at the schools you are applying to. Some schools like Boise State or the University of Montana (Missoula) are a WUE school (Western Undergraduate Exchange) and offer discounts based on the student’s grades and test scores. For a complete list of WUE schools click here: http://www.wiche.edu/wue
3. If your family has a $0 EFC, make sure you are applying to schools that will meet 100% of demonstrated need. For a complete list of schools that meet 100% of need click here: http://www.thecollegesolution.com/colleges-that-meet-100-of-financial-need/
4. Lastly, many popular out of state schools do not offer merit aid to students and cost between $40,000 and $60,000 a year. Make sure for each school, you know the Cost of Attendance and use the Net Price Calculator to determine what the price is to attend the school annually. You might be surprised when loans and work-study are included in the calculation. For a net price calculator, each school is required to have one on their website. Google key words if you can’t find it on the school website. For general FAFSA net price calculator, click here: https://apps.ess.unlv.edu/fa_netpricecalc/npcalc.htm