If you’re dreaming about going to college but nervous about the cost, we’re here to help! Here are just a few of the ways you can make college more affordable.
Understand the Difference Between Sticker Price and Net Price
When you start looking at college costs, the first thing to understand is the difference between sticker price and net price.
Sticker price: This amount is the published tuition price before financial aid (scholarships, grants, loans, work-study, etc.)
Net price: What you actually pay after financial aid.
Here’s the good news – you will rarely pay sticker price for college.
Complete your FAFSA
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application helps determine college affordability. You will complete the FAFSA for the first time during your senior year of high school.
The application generates your Student Aid Index (SAI), the number colleges use to determine how much financial aid you’re eligible for and which types. The SAI is an important financial need calculation on the FAFSA. Since you renew your FAFSA each year, your SAI can change while you’re in college. The 2024–25 FAFSA will be available in December 2023. Filling it out as early as possible may result in a higher award package.
Some schools may require additional information before they award funding. Always check each school’s website!
Utilize the Net Price Calculator (NPC)
All colleges are legally required to post a Net Price Calculator on their website, so take advantage of this tool. It allows you to plug in your SAI number and enter basic information about yourself to estimate your actual out-of-pocket cost of attendance.
Don’t let sticker shock stop you from planning your future. Ask your admissions counselor to review your financial aid package with you, and ask questions! They may be able to suggest additional resources like an on-campus job or other scholarships you could apply for. When you utilize these resources, it is possible to make your college experience affordable!