When researching and choosing a college, look for colleges and universities that have your area of interest, are the size you want, and are in an area of the country that you love.

Don’t make your decisions solely based on cost. 

Many students and their parents look at the price tag before looking at any other values of the school. But until you find out about the school’s financial aid packages, you don’t really know what your costs will be.

Take this example: A student was recently accepted to a small, prestigious private college and a very large in-state university. The in-state university gave this student a $1,500 tuition waiver, while the small private college offered the student a $45,000 tuition waiver as well as work-study money.

In the end, the private college was $12,000 cheaper per year!

Many in-state universities admittedly only cover 60% of need. This means the university will only cover two-thirds of your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from your FAFSA. 

In my previous example, the private college covered 100% of need – and recalculated the need so the total was greater than the EFC (and promised to maintain this coverage for four years).

About the Author

Paula Brault

Although Paula Brault has only been a counselor for one year, she has 14 years of experience teaching high school students about the career planning process. ...