Now is the time for seniors to begin identifying the Cost of Attendance (COA) at the colleges of their choice and identifying the sources of funding to cover the COA. I have attached a draft of a workshop that sheds some light on the process. Prior to getting the College Financial Aid Award letter the senior and their family can begin forecasting possible sources of funding. Once the FAFSA is completed the senior should be able to identify the amount of need-based federal and state funding. Most seniors will not have all of their financial need met and will receive encouragement to pursue “external” scholarships. Seniors and their families need to be knowledgeable about how to report external scholarships to their colleges after receiving the College Financial Aid Letters.
The link below identifies some of the issues with external scholarships.
Prior to accepting admission to a college the senior and their family need to discuss with the college how they wish for the external scholarship funds to be used. If you have three college award letters negotiating before accepting admission may impact your choice of college and you have more leverage in the negotiation. The family should get some advice on the strategy of what they wish the external scholarships to replace, for example, unsubsidized loans, subsidized loans, work-study, etc. If there is plenty of external scholarships the family may report to the college only 1/4 of the amount for each year of college. A family should plan for all four years of funding before they negotiate with the colleges. Attached is an EXCEL spreadsheet that assists in planning for all four years.
George A. Letchworth, Ph.D.
ASPIRE 4 year budget Excel Sheet