Gerhardt Educational Endeavors, LLC
Brenda Gerhardt, PhD
Independent Educational Consultant
2052 Rosebery Drive Columbus, OH 43220
Phone: (614) 620-2653
The cost of attending college has risen faster than the cost of living for several years. As state funding for higher education decreases, colleges and universities are passing the cost on to their consumers
The cost of attendance (COA) is the price you pay for college tuition, room and board (dorm room and meal plan), fees, travel expenses, books, and other personal expenses. Many people tend to focus on the tuition price; however, the cost of room and board is often equal to the tuition price, based on geographic location. Scholarships and grants can help to reduce the cost of attendance.
State-based fiscal support for colleges continues to decrease resulting in a greater dependency on student financial aid. The first step in securing financial aid is the completion of the FAFSA and/or the CSS Profile. The FAFSA is used by most colleges and universities that accept federal funding as part of their work. The CSS Profile is used by private colleges. The FAFSA is also used as the gateway to college-based scholarships and grants.
Federal and college-provided money makes up about 90% of all financial aid. Federal government grants, loans, and other aid make up 69% of available aid while college grants and scholarships make up 21%. State government grants and scholarships make up about 5% of the available financial aid while private and employer grants and scholarships make up about 6% of the financial aid available to students.
In a given year, about 84% of all college students received some type of financial aid to pay for college, and over 33% of all college students qualified for Pell Grants to help pay for their schooling.
The difference between the published price and the net price can be considerable. For example, in 2021, the average published price of in-state tuition and fees for public four-year colleges is about $10,388 But the average net price of in-state tuition and fees for public four-year colleges is only about $5,000
Merit aid or Scholarships are those funds that are earned based on academic, athletic, fine arts, or other talents. These funds do not have to be paid back.
Loans can be subsidized, unsubsidized, Federal, State, and Private in nature. The loan limits vary by type. Whatever the combination of options that you are offered, you need to choose wisely to find a balance between a great educational experience and fiscal responsibility.
Evaluate your financial aid packages based on what you have to pay back compared to that which you do not have to pay back.
Accept money that you do not have to pay back first (scholarships and grants) then move to subsidized loans and finally to unsubsidized (private) loans. Work-study is also a viable source of funding but you will have to work during the school year so it may affect your study: free time ratios.
Checking out net price calculators on college websites can be a good way to get an estimate of how much it may cost you to attend a college. This link will take you to the US Department of Education's Net Price Calculator Center