Maximizing Your Financial Aid

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Financial aid tips to help you afford college

Financial aid – two words that can make or a break a college decision. While college-bound seniors may be more focused on campus life, parents are consumed by the big question: “Can we afford this investment?”

While it’s informative to look at a university’s total tuition and fees, or “sticker price,” during the college search process, it’s more important to understand that a student’s actual investment is typically much less. The vast majority of college students receive financial aid, a combination of scholarships, grants and loans.

Net Price Calculator

A great place to begin, no matter where you are in your search process, is a college’s net price calculator. (To find one on any college website, type “net price calculator” into its search bar.) Using income and academic information supplied by the user, these calculators provide a realistic estimate of what kind of aid you can expect from a certain college. More importantly, they give you a clear idea of the out-of-pocket investment you can expect to make. This can help you make an educated decision about the colleges on your list and assist in future planning.

A valuable next step would be for you to dig deep into the financial aid web page of each college on your list. Learn all you can about institutional scholarships, grants and other incentives. At Florida Tech, for example, scholarships for athletes, transfers and students who participate in extracurricular activities such as FIRST Robotics and scouting are available.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Once you have applied and been admitted to one or more universities, there’s no better way to maximize your financial aid package than by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible after Jan. 1 of your senior year. The FAFSA helps colleges determine something called “need,” or the difference between what your family can afford and what your out-of-pocket costs are expected to be. This means that completing the FAFSA can open the door to scholarships, grants and loans for which you would not otherwise be considered. The FAFSA is free, so why wouldn’t you take advantage of it?

Our final recommendation: Seek guidance from experts. Financial aid counselors are experts who want to help. Not only can they guide you through paperwork and processes, but they love to give helpful money tips. (Where do you think we got all this great advice?) So reach out out and ask your questions. Your future is within your grasp, and probably more affordable than you think.

To see what a high quality, highly accurate Net Price Calculator looks like, give Florida Tech’s a try: https://fit.studentaidcalculator.com.

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