While we believe that the cost of attending a college should not be the principal factor in creating your college list, the high price tag for today’s college education has become a serious factor in the final decision for many students and families. We strongly encourage you to begin discussing these issues as a family at the beginning of your college search. With tuition costs rising roughly five percent annually, higher education "sticker shock" is a common first reaction to the "going-to-college" process. However, before ruling out a school based on cost, families should consider the many opportunities available to them, including grants, scholarships, work-study programs and student loans and what the actual out-of-pocket cost will be.
There are many forms of financial assistance available. The most basic financial assistance offered at all colleges is need-based. Need-based financial assistance is given to families who demonstrate financial eligibility using nationally standardized needs-analysis forms, such as the Free Application for Federal Student Assistance (FAFSA) and the College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile. Demonstration of financial eligibility is determined through detailed review of a family’s net assets, salary, investment income, liabilities, home equity, and other factors.
Some colleges also offer merit-based assistance. Such financial assistance comes in the form of scholarships for students who have achieved superior levels of academic excellence or offer some special talent in the performing arts or athletics. Please note that while all of the most-highly competitive colleges and universities offer need-based assistance, only a handful offer any merit-based aid.