Understanding college costs

Teenager student studying with a laptop and taking notes lying in her bedroom

Don’t get sticker shock: Here’s how to figure out the price of college.

Taking a look at college costs today is enough to give anyone sticker shock. Before you start to scramble figuring out how to pay the cost, remember that most students don’t pay the full advertised price for college.

There are a variety of ways colleges help make their tuition more affordable. Be sure not to dismiss any college out of hand based on their listed price. Ask questions and explore options to get a more realistic view of what you might actually pay. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Look at the Net Price Calculator for the schools your student is considering. This tool can help you estimate the price of the school for your student, which may be different than the listed cost.

Consider scholarships. It’s not too early to start researching scholarship options. Look into local scholarships offered by service groups, check with your employer, and ask about scholarship opportunities at any schools your student is interested in attending. Additionally, look into scholarship search engines online. Tuition Funding Sources offers one of the largest scholarship databases available with over $41 billion in financial aid for students.

Talk with the school’s financial aid office. Be sure to visit with the financial aid office of any school your student is considering. Ask about what type of institutional aid is available and how much the average student receives.

Look into reciprocity agreements. If your student is considering a state college school in a neighboring state, be sure to look into reciprocity agreements. Some schools are willing to give in-state tuition to students from neighboring states.

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