Frequently Asked Questions - Parents
Should we talk with the colleges or should we let our student? The student should be at the center of the process - especially the attendance decision-making process. Parents however certainly play a very important part - guidance, suggestions, and support are essential. Colleges like to see the student who has a great support structure, but the student's ability to "stand on their own two feet" is very important.
We are divorced and remarried. What parents' information needs to be reported and to who? The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), which is required from all students seeking funding for college, asks questions specifically about the student's current household. This could be natural parents, step-parents, or a combination of both. The CSS/Profile, which is a more detailed version of the FAFSA and is required in addition to the FAFSA by approximately 10% of the schools, may also ask questions about the non-custodial parent if the natural parents are divorced.
What is the difference between an un-subsidized and a subsidized loan? An un-subsidized loan accrues interest while the student attends college; whereas, the government pays the interest on a subsidized loan during attendance. Please note that a student must demonstrate financial need to qualify for a subsidized loan.
We have heard we might make too much money to qualify for college funding - is that true? No - not any more! Colleges are now willing to offer funding (basically through their endowment funds) to families with higher annual incomes and greater net assets. Students from families with annual incomes of $250,000+ are commonly offered very attractive funding packages.
Who really receives the most money for college and why? Although college financial aid was originally intended to go to those students who needed it the most, in many cases, it may actually go to those who know the most about the process. Colleges now use financial aid as a marketing tool to attract the students they would most like to enroll. The more you know about the overall process, and the more you are able to implement what you know into a workable plan, the more likely you are to receive the best education at the best price.
Should we go on campus visits with our student? Yes - if at all possible. It's very important to let the student "do the talking." However, an extra set or two of eyes and ears will certainly pick up a great deal of additional information that can be discussed and weighed into the final decision.
What is the most important part of the college planning process? Understanding the fact that college is not only essential and expensive, but it is also a business. Colleges consider themselves communities and look for a wide range of students to diversely fill each community. Keep in mind that colleges typically offer admission to 3, 4, or even 5 times as many students as they need to keep their seats filled. Being accepted for admission is by no means the end of the "battle." The institution making the student's attendance possible by offering adequate funding is the real key.