Five Steps to Getting More College Aid

There is a pervasive misconception out there that only the most selective colleges provide funding to only the most exceptional  students. This is not so! I have many examples from our own work with college-bound students that refute this idea. One of best results this past season was a student with a 880 combined SAT score, who was awarded more aid then the family’s need indicated he should get. We achieved this great success because the family was open to the suggestions on how to increase his award, and followed our five-step strategy.

First a quick definition:  “need” is a term used to describe how much money the government and schools think you need help with after subtracting your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from the school’s Cost of Attendance (COA). It’s a simple equation:  COA – EFC = Need.

There are only a handful of colleges across the country that guarantee in writing that they will meet 100% of the student’s need. Many parents and students get hung up on these few schools and think they are the only options for getting the most money. What they are not taking into account are the hundreds of colleges across the country that routinely meet 100% of the students’ need but never put it in a written promise!

If you want to get the most money for your student, it is best to broaden your focus beyond these few highly selective colleges.  A smart application strategy is critical to getting your student the money they need and deserve:

Admission Solutions’ Five-step College Application Strategy:

  1. Apply to no fewer than 6-10 colleges
  2. Focus on schools with generous financial track records
  3. Have at least one safety school where you know your student will be accepted
  4. Have 4 to 5 match schools where your student will likely be in the top 50% to 25% of the incoming freshman class
  5. Do not reduce the number of safety or match schools if you want to add stretch, or reach, schools

It’s a simple fact, but one often overlooked by families:  where your student applies in the fall will determine the aid packages that come in the spring.  Give yourself the greatest chance of success — before that first application is sent!