How Do I Know If I Qualify For Financial Aid?

Well, first you need to understand there are two types of financial aid — one that is based on the finances of the student and the family (NEED-based financial aid) and one that is based on the qualities of the student (MERIT-based financial aid).

When it comes to need-based financial aid, there is a formula used by the colleges that helps them determine if you qualify for financial aid.  Here are some of the factors that come into play in the formula colleges use:

  1. Income of the parents
  2. Income of the student
  3. Assets of the parents
  4. Assets of the student
  5. Number in Family
  6. Number in College
  7. Marital Status of Student
  8. Marital Status of Parents
  9. Age of the parents
  10. Income Taxes Paid
  11. Business Equity

Colleges will take this all into account (and anything else they decide is important) and calculate the number they believe you can contribute towards college — it’s called your Expected Family Contribution (EFC).  They will subtract this number from what they charge you (their Cost of Attendance).  If your EFC is less than the cost of attendance, you will have a financial aid NEED at the college.   If your EFC is higher than the cost of attendance, then you won’t have a financial aid NEED.    However, if you don’t have a financial aid NEED, it doesn’t mean your student can’t still get help with the college bill.  They can still qualify for MERIT based aid and that can significantly reduce what you’ll be expected to pay.

The SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT step in college planning is knowing what you’ll be expected to pay.  Senior year is not when you want to find out this all important number!

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