Don’t Pay Sticker Price For College

February 20, 2012 by staff 

Don’t Pay Sticker Price For College, Don’t be dissuaded by a college’s high sticker price. It’s a common mantra in the higher education community, given the vast array of financial aid options schools offer to admitted students to help pay for college.

Some schools make a concerted effort to keep their final prices within a student’s ability to pay, based on what’s formally known as your expected family contribution (EFC). Your EFC aims to estimate what your family can reasonably spend on one year of college, calculated using your family’s income, number of children, amount of assets, and more.

A minority of schools report to U.S. News that, on average, students who qualify for need-based aid won’t have to pay more than their calculated EFC.

Among 1,171 institutions that reported the statistic to U.S. News, 62 colleges claim to have met, on average, 100 percent of their admitted full-time undergraduate students’ financial need for fall 2010. That means the average gaps between a school’s total cost of attendance—tuition, fees, room and board, books, travel, and other expenses—and every student’s EFC was filled with some combination of aid.

It’s up to the schools to define what they use to meet students’ need. Some colleges may use subsidized loans to help make up the difference, for example, or will factor work-study funds into the calculations. (Both scenarios would shift some of the onus of the aid gap onto students.) Eligible students may also receive aid such as merit scholarships or federal grants.

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