Smart Track™ College Funding Toolkit  Do You Qualify?

Do you know what it takes to plan and pay for college?

For almost all families with college bound students, there are two main concerns: getting into college and paying for it. Your student is going to spend most of their time working on admissions applications, which means the task of figuring out how to pay the bills is usually left for the parents. If you haven't considered the true cost of a college education or put together a plan to pay for it, you may be at risk. Take our quiz to see how much you know about the college funding process and whether or not you are ready.
Do You Qualify?

1. T or F: The cost of attendance on a college's website is what you can expect to pay each year.

False. The cost of attendance listed on a college's website is no different than the sticker price listed on a new car. The vast majority of families don't pay this "sticker price", they pay less. This is because they incorporate Need-Based and Merit-Based aid strategies in their college plan.

2. Which will ultimately be more expensive: a state college or a private institution?

Even though a state college may look cheaper on paper, the truth is that many families pay less money to attend a private institution. This is because private colleges have endowments outside of federal and state funds that they can award to deserving students. If you don't apply to a college just because it looks expensive, you may be missing out.

3. How many different financial aid applications will you have to complete?

This all depends on where you apply. You will, at a minimum, have to complete a FAFSA; however depending on where you apply there could be as many as 10 additional forms to complete! Remember, not completing just one of these forms could exempt you from receiving any financial aid.

4. Do you know what an EFC is and how this will impact your finances?

Your EFC is your Expected Family Contribution. This is defined as the minimum amount a college expects you to be able to pay for one student for one year of college. You need to know what your EFC is to accurately determine what a college thinks you can afford. You also need to know how your EFC is calculated to determine if there are strategies that can save you money on your college costs.

5. Are there people who do not receive financial aid?

Absolutely. People who do not fill out any forms or take time to learn the financial aid process typically receive nothing. Don't be one of these people! There is literally financial aid for everyone. You just have to apply in order to qualify for and receive it. If you don't apply, you'll never know.

6. What types of financial aid can you receive?

There are basically three types of financial aid that you can receive: Need-Based, Merit-Based, and Talent-Based. Need-Based depends on your EFC and college's cost of attendance. Merit and Talent aid depend on the student and where they are positioned within the incoming freshman class. It should be noted that Merit and Talent aid have nothing to do with a family's finances.

7. Is your financial aid award letter the final step in the college process?

Not at all. You will still have to calculate your out of pocket expenses, go through the process of accepting or declining the financial aid you have been offered, and then determine whether or not your family will need to take additional loans to pay for college. Remember too that financial aid is applied for every year, which means you could go through this process 4 times or more!