Starting the search for college and the money to pay for it.
For parents who are about to embark on the journey to send their child to college, the road is an interesting one, full of admissions offices, forms, SAT scores, financial aid officers, tax returns, and a lot of planning that pays off in the end.
When children are young, the family goal is to “save for college”. In high school, if a family has been affected by events that change their financial security, the goal becomes “finding money for college”. Both are very attainable, and both require planning and research.
Very few students know what they want to do by age 18, but they have an idea of the area that interests them. They should decide if they are more comfortable in a larger or smaller college, do they want a private college that appeals to certain groups – ie religious affiliated, historically black, etc. They should look into all the opportunities that exist locally as well as at the college of their dreams. Many families, even those who can afford hefty tuition bills, are questioning whether or not their undergraduate is better off at a state university or a lower cost smaller private college, and saving the big prestige college bucks for graduate school.
www.collegeboard.com is a great site to begin a college search and learn about financial aid. The site is run by the same people who brought us the SAT, ACT, and advanced placement testing. It features a comprehensive search of colleges, scholarships, information on loans, savings plans, and the entire college search/application/selection process. Students can also register for the SAT at this site.
The first step in applying for financial aid for many American colleges and universities is the need determined by the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form. This is a determination of need and eligibility for grants and loans administered by the US Department of Education. Many colleges have deadlines for filing the FAFSA in early spring. It is available at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov