There is no doubt that some college price tags can be quite scary. That, coupled with the fact that college costs are going to continue rising probably has you and your parents quite nervous. It’s not all bad news though. There are literally hundreds of billions of dollars in financial aid available and most students today receive some form of aid that reduces the amount your family will actually have to pay.   

So what is the actual cost?  For anyone eligible for financial aid, it’s not the published tuition and fees quoted in college marketing material. That’s equivalent to the sticker cost of a car and very few of us walk off the lot without some form of negotiation to bring the cost closer in line to our budget. This is in essence, the financial aid process that occurs when you apply. Based on your particular situation, the government and the college will determine what amount they are able to offer to reduce your cost to attend that particular college.

Most colleges will provide you with the average financial aid awarded to freshmen, which you can use for a rough estimate of what your net costs might be. Keep in mind that every case is different so you should not assume anything until you receive your award letter. Whatever you do, don’t discount the school of your dreams because it’s too expensive. Financial aid can make any school a reality so the most important step in determining college costs is to apply for financial aid.    

Sticker Price – Financial Aid = Actual Cost to Attend