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What You Need To Know About The Costs Of College

Dobler College ConsultingI originally posted this entry back in February but as I meet with high school juniors and their parents, the conversation eventually comes around to talking about cost and how to know which colleges are more affordable than others. While the answer is subjective to the individual student and his or her situation, this post has a couple great ideas to help you figure it out how it could play out for you:

As you’re building your college list, there’s no limit to the things you will consider. Is your major a program at which the school is particularly strong? Is it a cool college town? Big time football on Saturdays? Is the campus safe? Is it clean?

Depending on your VIPS, what you are considering is specific to you.

But there is one aspect that you all think about.

And that’s cost.

Let’s be honest here, there’s nothing to like about college costs. They have risen at astronomical levels over the last few decades to the point where students are graduating, on average, with over $26,000 in debt.

And that’s an average.

Back in the late fall, I wrote a post about the difference between a college’s sticker price and the real price that families pay. I then followed it up with a post about understanding your EFC. If you haven’t read them already and don’t know what EFC is, take a minute and check them out and then come on back.

There’s a lot of things to cover in the college search, but if you don’t understand the costs of college and how to reduce them, you could be in for a big time let down next year when your financial aid awards show up. So, outside of figuring out your EFC, here are a few things you can do to help yourself:

1. Don’t pay attention to sticker price:

Look for net price and, specifically, the net price for families in your income bracket. If your family’s income is over $100,000 you don’t want to be looking at net price for families whose income is only $50,000.

2. Figure out just how admissible you are:

Based on grades and test scores, look at who the college admits. Then take a good, hard look at yours. Are they similar? Sort of? Not close? The easier it is for a college to admit you, the better (read BIGGER) your award will be.

3. Check out merit awards:

Some colleges publish the amounts and qualifications of their merit awards (free money) on online and the information is easy to find and understand. Your GPA and SAT score combination earn you X amount of dollars. Others, not so much. Look it up and if you can’t find what you’re looking for, call the admissions office.

Have something to say? Use the comment box below or email me at If you think this makes a lot of sense, consider sharing it with someone you know.

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  1. Sharon Epstein

    Eric, thanks for your insight and expertise. I always look forward to your posts, which are valuable for families and students at every stage of the college process.

    1. Eric

      Thanks Sharon (and sorry for the overdue reply)! Hope all is well with you!

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