50,000 a year

<p>That will be what I will have to pay if I can go to my first choice school, yet I don't feel I will be able to pay that much :( what can I do to ease that cost?</p>

<p>Learn to love your second, or third choice schools…</p>

<p>Sorry that is so snarky, but if you are far from being able to afford it, you will probably need to find another path. If the amount you need is relatively small (a couple of thousand for example) you may be able to economize by shaving off some of the extra costs or working two jobs during the summer. </p>

<p>What are the costs of your school and what have they offered you?</p>

<p>Go to a cheaper school. Students should always apply to a financial safety school into an admissions safety school. :)</p>

<p>Higher ed is melting down. It is shaping up to be a disappointing year for many – but take heart. You might have saddled yourself with a lifetime of debt and the suddenly impossible costs are going to keep you from making that mistake. </p>

<p>There are not only cheaper choices, there are also affordable choices that are amazing. You are not choosing between a Lexus and an ancient donkey here. You are choosing between an overpriced Ferrari (which have expensive and frequent maintenance needs) and a perfectly charming Ford Focus that has a great safety rating and gets terrific mileage. Go find your Ford and start traveling your path of Life.</p>

<p>er11a: I see from your posting history that you are a HS junior. I had assumed you were a senior. </p>

<p>In that case, your question is a very good one because you are at the beginning of the college admissions odyssey. Many kids (and sadly, parents) don’t bother asking that question until spring of senior year, and often it is too late.</p>

<p>For many reasons you should avoid falling in love with a particular school - both admissions and financial aid can be unpredictable. There are literally thousands of universities out there and you would probably be happy at many many schools.</p>

<p>The very first thing you need to do, even before you start trying to draw up a list of schools is to sit down with your parents and have a heart to heart conversation about how much money they can contribute to your education. Do not let them be vague – you need a number. Don’t let them blow you off with “don’t worry about it – we’ll take care of it”. Unless you are Bill Gates’ kid, I guarantee your parents will be surprised at the cost of college. Many parents of juniors have this idea that financial aid will fill the gaps between what they can comfortably pay and the cost of attendance. This is false. If your parents don’t want to have this conversation, send them to this board and we’ll shake some sense into them.</p>

<p>You should also have them run through the financial aid calculator at finaid.org This will give them a feeling for what their Estimated Family Contribution is. But remember, EFC is a misnomer – schools will very likely ask you to pay more than that. Private schools may use their own methods for determining need and many people find that schools expect more from parents. (Often private schools include the equity in the home as an asset that can be tapped, while the federal method ignores equity in the family home.)</p>

<p>Beyond what your parents will contribute you will also be eligible for federal Stafford loans of $5500 for freshman year (the amount rises in future years). You should also be able to contribute some money from summer earnings and a part time job during school time. If your parents have any savings set aside for your college you should include these as well.
If your family income isn’t very high you may qualify for federal Pell grants. Some states also have grants for low income families.</p>

<p>These things added together are your bottom line budget. If you are lucky there will be some schools that will be within budget – look at your instate public schools. If you want to attend a school that costs more than this you will need to get financial aid from them. Some schools only give aid based on family need; others give it based on a combination of merit and need.
However, don’t expect that schools will meet your family’s need. With the exception of tippy top schools like Harvard, Yale, Princeton etc. very few schools meet need for all students. </p>

<p>Schools often package financial aid depending on how much they want particular students. You need to find schools that want you. If you have scores that are near the top of their pool you will likely get some good packages. I see from your previous posts that you are interested in sailing. If you find a school with a sailing team and you can show that you would be an asset to the team this might be something they would reward with a good aid package. </p>

<p>My final piece of advice is to apply broadly to many different schools. They should all be places you would be happy to attend. When the admissions letters roll in, hold off making a decision until you have all of the financial aid letters on the table too. Then you can make a decision using both your head as well as your heart. This is going to be one of the largest financial decisions you will ever make – don’t do it based solely on emotion.</p>

<p>And forget the “dream school” way of thinking – it will only bring you heartache!</p>