Preparation: The academic side of the equation is to do the best in high school to generate the highest possible GPA. Next is to take study courses for the SAT and ACT to prepare for the test. The results could qualify your student to receive grants and scholarships to mitigate the cost of college. There could be athletic scholarships or musical awards that can pay some or all of the costs. But for most attendees borrowing will be the main financial resource to pay for school.
The Right School: Some students have an idea of what they want to do in life. So researching the schools that address those ideas and the majors they offer is the first step in the “stalking” process. For students who are less sure of their career goals, junior college or the first two years in a liberal arts school may offer the requirements that most majors require. Some colleges permit the student to be undeclared up to two years before a major is selected; but eventually schools require a declared major. Every school has standards: some rigorous- others more relaxed. Are classes large or small? Is a private school instead of a public school an option? Are the professors teaching or do they have teacher’s assistants or graduate students doing the instruction? Are special academic programs available, such as internships or study abroad programs? These questions need to be answered.
Funding: The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is a score that calculates student eligibility for federal student aid. The EFC score is compiled from the financial information students stipulate on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) to determine the EFC. Financial aid administrators (FAAs) subtract the EFC from students’ cost of attendance (COA) to determine their need for the following federal student financial assistance offered by the U.S. Department of Education: Federal Pell Grants, Subsidized Stafford Loans through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Federal Perkins Loans and Federal Work-Study.
These are the basic considerations that need to be in an overall college plan designed by financial professionals, whose core competency is college planning. It’s your life. It’s your time. It’s your money.