Paying for College

Who should file the FAFSA?

One of our readers posted a great question in response to a recent blog item, If You Applied Early.. Or not...

Bill wrote:

My son, a high school senior, applied to an out-of-state public college this fall (rolling admission) and has been accepted for Fall, 2012. In addition, he recently received from them a merit based scholarship that will make up a lot of the difference between in-state vs. out-of-state tuition. We see no reason to apply for financial aid through FAFSA, as the EFC calculations show us contributing more than it costs per year. I don’t see it worth going through the hassle. Do you agree?

Bill, first and foremost, check with the financial aid office at the college to which your son has been accepted.  While some colleges will tell you there is no need to file the FAFSA, other colleges will want -- or may require -- you to file the FAFSA so that they have it on record. You will want to be sure to fulfill all the requirements at the college where your son has been awarded the scholarship so that his award remains in good standing.

A Valuable Perspective on Paying for College

Get Smart About College from the Wall Street Journal examines the question of how parents and students think about paying for college. There's some excellent advice here from authors Sandy Baum and Michael McPherson, both admired experts on higher education, known for their trenchant and original thinking backed by data.  In particular, hurrah for their focus on fit and highlighting the fact that students who get into selective colleges but opt for cheaper schools are less likely to graduate -- a decision therefore that can be far more costly than it first appears. And the spreadsheet the authors suggest is basically our Financial Aid Package Evaluator that you can find in our book and right here on our website under the Worksheets tab. But read the whole article! All in all, it's a valuable investment perspective on one of the most expensive decisions most families will make.