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College Financial Aid

Some thoughts.....

  • Submitting the FAFSA is free; it's the "Free Application for Federal Student Aid" made available through the US Dept of Education. There are sites which will suggest that you need to pay. Ignore them.

  • Some schools require that you submit the CSS Profile. This is a College Board product and has a fee.

  • Once you have the financial aid offers from the schools in hand1:

    • Compare the awards

      • Financial aid packages are not all free money. Many of them include work study and/or loans that must be paid back.

      • Use the award comparison tool available from in the numbers and find out which offer is actually the most generous.

    • Consider negotiating with a financial aid office for a better offer. This may be most effective if you have received two radically different award packages from two similar schools. Check out this longer explanation of negotiation at

    • In your consideration of different packages, don't include claims that one college will provide better earning power than another, as these can be misleading when applied to one individual. "Your student’s work ethic and character combined with what he does during and after college will have a much bigger impact on future earning power than the name on his degree will."1

  • Check out Lynn O'Shaughnessy's books and blogs to get more info about how college scholarships work and how to work the system to your advantage. See more at About Lynn O'Shaughnessy | The College Solution.

  • Recommended: Paying for College Without Going Broke, 2017 Edition: How to Pay Less for College by Kalman Chany

  • New Jersey's Garden State Guarantee and Rutgers University's Scarlet Guarantee offer tuition-free and discount options for families with an AGI under $65,000 and $100,000 respectively.


1Three financial aid reminders for parents of college seniors (March 14, 2014) at, accessed 17 March 2014.

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