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College FAQ

College FAQ for Parents

  1. Where should my child go to college?

    Selecting where a student goes to college is one of the most important decisions the student, and their family, can make in a lifetime. Where they go to school will largely be decided by what the student and/or the family value the most. For some Families, cost is the number one consideration. For other families prestige is the highest value. Sit down with your child and ask them to make a list of the three most important values to them and selecting a college. You should make a similar list and share them with each other. Have a open conversation about the similarities and differences and then create a rubric to evaluate each option your family is considering. Once you’ve gone through that exercise, the right options will reveal themselves.

2. Should my child start at a community college for the first few years?

This is always a tough one to answer. The reason it is tough is largely based on determining why it is being asked. As a general rule of thumb, I believe that going to a four-year college for two years and transfer it out is always a tough road.If you’re going to go to a local college it is far better to plan to stay and graduate then they go and transfer out.

3. How does the financial aid process work?

The financial aid process is a complicated process. However, here is a basic overview to make the process easier to understand:

  • The costs for college include two basic fees: 1) Tuition, and 2) Room and Board (housing and food). The term “full tuition” will be used to include both.

  • 67% of all college students receive some form of financial aid (grants, scholarships, loans, or work-study)

  • To qualify for financial aid directly from a college or university, families must complete and submit the FAFSA

  • EFC is a VERY IMPORTANT term. EFC stands for Estimated Family Contribution. Once the FAFSA has been submitted, a formula calculates how much money a family can reasonably afford to pay for college. For example, let’s imagine a student is accepted to a college where full tuition is $50,000. If the EFC formula says the family can afford $10,000 per year ($833 per month), the university creates a financial aid package to equal the difference.

  • Demonstrated Need is also a VERY IMPORTANT term. Demonstrated need is the difference between the Estimated Family Contribution and Full Tuition. In the example above, $40,000 is the Demonstrated Need. A financial aid package is based upon Demonstrated Need. Here is the formula:

Full Tuition - EFC = Demonstrated Need

4. Why is college so expensive?

The cost of college tuition increases between 3% to 4% each year. The reasons for the continued tuition increases range from costs associated with student instruction to professor salaries to building and construction. Education is expensive and student debt also continues to grow. The average college student, who is on a financial aid plan, is graduating with the $37,000 in student loans. A loan payment plan would equate to roughly $375 per month. Families and students need to make decisions about what values they care the most about. Is going to college a necessity or luxury? That is a personal choice. Is owning a home a necessity or luxury? Would you only buy a home you could pay in cash or would you take out a mortgage? Yes, college is expensive. Yes, students go into debt. And, yes, a college degree delivers a better life.

5. Where can I apply for scholarships?

Don’t wait until senior year to start the research on scholarships. Start as early as 10th grade to identify a list of 10 scholarships a student wants to win. Look at the criteria required and create a plan that adds the experiences, skills, or anything else helpful to be in a good position to win. We also have a list of scholarship search engines on our website. Click Here to access them.

6. Should my child live on campus or can they commute?

Research data shows that students who live on campus have higher graduation rates than students who commute. Therefore, the suggestion is if you can afford it, do it. Having said that, sometimes living on campus is simply not feasible. If your child cannot live on campus, we suggest you have them treat college like a job with office hours. When they arrive to campus, stay there. They should not come home between classes or finish class and come home to take a nap. Instead, try the “hour-for-an-hour” approach. If they have class three hours a day, have them spend an additional three hours a day on campus (hopefully in the library or student union). The extra time will allow them to soak in the college atmosphere and hopefully reflect positively in the classroom.

7. Are private colleges worth it?

There is no right answer for this question. People go to college for many different reasons and everyone makes individual choices based upon their personal values. There are advantages to private colleges and there are advantages to public colleges. As a general rule, the price tag for private colleges is more expensive than a public state college or university. But, you should always ask a college about their four-year graduation rate average. If you go to a public college where it takes the average student six years to graduate versus another college where students 91% of students graduate in four years, which option is actually better?