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Affording College
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Whether you are planning to attend a public university or private university, college can be expensive. There are ways to cut down the cost of college, but it does require additional time and work. However, your time and dedication may save you money in the long run.


Search Plan

  1. RESEARCH: Begin researching scholarships, grants, and other aid opportunities early. Your junior year is a good time to start. Continue researching throughout senior year.

  2. ORGANIZE: Keep a list or spreadsheet of potential scholarships with due dates and check back regularly for updates or changes. If you create this list during your junior year, you will need to adjust these dates for your senior year to reflect current year deadlines.

  3. ASK: Contact the admissions counselor at the schools where you’re applying to discuss other potential scholarships or financial aid opportunities.

  4. APPLY: Apply early so you do not miss opportunities for scholarships and aid offers with earlier deadlines. Some scholarship deadlines are as early as November and December.  There are other benefits to applying early too, such as receiving admission decisions and financial aid packages earlier, which will give you more time to decide. There is really no benefit to applying for admission later.

What Is A Financial Aid Package? states, “a financial aid package is the total amount of financial aid that includes federal and nonfederal aid offered by a college to a student. The school’s financial aid staff combines various forms of aid into a “package” to help meet a student’s education costs”. These “various forms of aid” can be federal loans, federal grants, and scholarships awarded by the school. Some schools will accept outside scholarships that students have been awarded and add it to the student’s financial aid package. Be sure to contact the school’s financial aid team to go over your child’s financial aid package once they have received it. For more additional resources, please review the image below. 



Affording College – Private University Version

  • Apply for the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) 
    • The application requires parent(s) income. It does require submitting the previous year’s tax information
  • GPA scholarships
    • The majority of private universities offer scholarships based on high school GPA. Research each school’s website to see which scholarship you might qualify for. 
  • Additional Scholarships
    • Many Private schools offer additional scholarships for incoming freshmen or transfer students to apply for. Some of them may require students to submit a FAFSA as part of the scholarship application. Contact your Admission Counselor at each school to see what other additional scholarships you may qualify for.
  • Outside Scholarships Examples 
    • Apply for outside scholarships. Many private universities will accept outside scholarships if you have been awarded one or more and add it to your financial aid package.
      • Contact your diocese if they offer scholarships for students attending college 
      • Knights of Columbus Scholarships
      • Newman Guide Essay Scholarship
      • National Merit Scholarship Program
  • Military Benefits
    • If your parents serve or have served in the military, see if you qualify for certain grants, loans, or scholarships. Some examples include:
      • GI Bill
      • Yellow Ribbon Program

Affording College – Public University Version

Across the board, public universities are cheaper than private universities when it comes to the sticker price. Depending on the schools students apply to and the scholarships they receive, however, some public universities can be the same price as private universities. Public universities have different tuition prices for in-state students (students who reside in the same state as the school) and out-of-state students. Typically, tuition will be more for out-of-state students. When this is the case for a student, the total cost of attendance can sometimes be the same or more in comparison to a private university. A public university can sometimes cost more than a private university because they have less financial aid to offer. There are many different factors that go into the cost of attending public or private universities, so be sure to go over the cost of attendance that includes your student’s financial aid package with each school’s Admission Counselor. 


  • In-state vs. out-of-state tuition 
    • In-state tuition
      • A specific tuition price tag for students who reside in the same state where the university is located (e.g. student from California attends a public university in California). In-state tuition is typically cheaper than out-of-state tuition.
  • Out-of-state tuition
    • A specific tuition price tag for students who do not reside in the same state where the university is located (e.g. student from California attends a public university located in Texas). This price tag is typically more expensive than in-state tuition.
      • FAFSA, Scholarships, and Military Benefits

Similar to private universities, public universities also offer federal aid. Apply for the FAFSA if you are planning to apply to a public university. Contact the school’s Admissions Department if there are any scholarships that incoming freshmen are eligible to apply for (e.g. GPA scholarships, departmental scholarships, etc.). Public universities will also accept outside scholarships and military benefits. Be sure to inquire if you qualify for any of these opportunities.


Private Loans

A multitude of financial institutions offer student loans and parent loans to close the gap between the cost of other financial aid options and the cost of attending a post-secondary school, if necessary. Each institution determines the conditions and requirements for obtaining loans from them as well as the interest rates they charge. When researching these types of loans, be sure to find out if they offer any incentives for maintaining good grades in school, paying interest on the loans while in school, or making timely payments after graduation for a certain period.


Financial Aid

Parents and students tend to have many questions about navigating the financial aid process for attending colleges and universities. Admissions counselors and the Financial Aid office at the college or university of your choice are a terrific resource for helping you navigate funding for attending their school. Developing a good rapport with them will help make sure the process goes smoothly. 


The following list of general tips may be helpful to keep in mind: 

  • Colleges and universities provide financial aid calculators on their websites (usually on the financial aid page). These calculators provide an estimate of how much aid a student may be eligible to receive from their school. This is a good way of estimating costs to attend a school even before you decide to apply. 

  • Private schools quite often offer more merit-based and need-based aid than public schools. Sometimes this additional aid makes the cost of attending a private school comparable to or less than attending a public school. 

  • Many schools allow you to make an additional “special circumstances” appeal for financial aid. These appeals allow you to report financial challenges that may not be reflected on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), such as a recent loss of income, medical expenses, birth of an additional child in the family, or loss of a parent, etc. 

  • Don’t forget to factor in travel costs when estimating the cost of attending a school. 

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