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Greetings Families,
This blog continues my series on Financial Aid and Scholarships- related to your Common Application 2021-22 and your College Admissions Planning

 

HOW MUCH CAN WE AFFORD TO PAY FOR COLLEGE?

Based on whatever “list” of college rankings appeals to you (recall, I don’t favor using lists at all), I often ask new clients and ongoing clients to consider a simple exercise. There is a continuum of the most highly selective to least selective colleges– also reflecting the quality of education provided. Somewhere on that linear progression, slot in your state’s public university flagship and all the remaining colleges (reach, match, safety) on your current balanced-short list.
Now unlike buying a car, a house, a restaurant meal, or a host of other purchases – I need you to understand and accept that the published price tag for college tuition shows little if any price variation reflecting the rankings or quality of education. Literally, the most selective colleges have very similar price tags to “average” or even “below average” universities. Recognize why that occurs?!
Aside from the operating costs being similar across most colleges (the largest part of their budget are faculty and staff salaries)– imagine for a moment if prices really did reflect the quality- which colleges would want to advertise their lessor quality by a lower price- who would want to enroll?! This is nothing new — old news.
Looking at that continuum of colleges you just placed on a horizontal line—you can see the price tag of your public university – is that something you can afford?
Even if you can afford that amount– do you want to pay for what you will receive? What if the student is not accepted to the best within-state public university –where would you want to attend? How much in tuition can your family afford —COMFORTABLY?
This amount might originate either from your college savings and/or through the ongoing household budget. Whether that amount is $10k, $30k or $70k – let’s switch the conversation to what college financial aid officers think you can afford relative to what you think you can afford so you can understand how the process of financial aid is going to work and also use this information to shape your balanced list of colleges.  Stay with me….

ACTIONABLE ITEM:  WHAT DO FINANCIAL AID MODELS INDICATE YOU CAN AFFORD?

Please head to www.fafsa4caster.gov –it is a non-binding estimating tool to explore what your family EFC (more about that below) might be.
THE Website is private- takes you 5 minutes to complete… stop here, and go through that process….. If short on time, here’s an accurate hypothetical.
Rough rule of thumb: Household earnings $150k, EFC is $30-$35k depending on savings.
I’m guessing at this point- your assessment of what you can afford and the FAFSA model are way out of sync.  RIGHT?!!
Shocking amounts of money are revealed in that model. For most families – FAFSA generated an annual expected family college contribution that often exceeds what you pay for your mortgage and perhaps even your annual retirement savings. Stay with me…..
Next: Looking at your diagram of colleges– there’s a price point break on that line isn’t there? There’s a dollar value that you can comfortably manage. In addition- there’s two conflicting data points here. First, you already know that you’re not going to pay at any price to attend the University of “FILL IN BLANK” but you may find a way to pay (if accepted) to attend the University of “FILL IN THE BLANK”.
  • EVERY FAMILY HAS A SWEET SPOT FOR EVERY PURCHASE- AND COLLEGE TUITION IS NO EXCEPTION BECAUSE IT’S AN INVESTMENT AND SHOULD BE THOUGHT OF MUCH THE SAME AS ANY OTHER MAJOR PURCHASE.
  • While you might be unable to afford the full price of the most selective colleges, chances are you’ll figure /manage a way to pay the added cost beyond any financial aid received for those “special colleges” – investments in education that more than pay for themselves in short-term summer internship opportunities, higher quality education, higher exception rates to graduate school and overall, a lifetime of more opportunity and higher earnings (the data on all these points is readily available for every university). That is not to say there are individual success stories for students who attend much less selective universities- but a higher quality education is always a goal.
  • So looking at what you can comfortably afford and what colleges suggest you can afford—there are still exceptions.
  • Would you somehow manage UPenn-Wharton for your aspiring business major? How about MIT for your aspiring engineer? Most talented Musical Theater major ever– NYU ?  How do you feel about the Humanities – will you pay $75K for your student to earn an undergraduate degree in a field with lower than average job prospects? These are all difficult choices – but it a conversation to have prior to selecting colleges where you’ll apply and attend and for students to appreciate the financial costs and commitments that parents are assuming by investing in their education.
  • How do you feel about paying for a second year of tuition if the student is on academic probation– should we ever pay students for grades or penalize them for poor performance? The latter are individual parenting choices and guidelines about academic expectations may be part of your family conversation.
  • KNOWING HOW MUCH
1) YOUR FAMILY CAN AFFORD IN COLLEGE TUITION
2) ARE EXPECTED TO CONTRIBUTE (FAFSA EFC) AND
 3) ARE WILLING TO CONTRIBUTE
WILL HELP YOU DETERMINE WHERE TO APPLY- ESPECIALLY IN LIGHT OF THE COST OF YOUR BEST PUBLIC UNIVERSITY AND THE UNCERTAINTY OVER OUR ECONOMY FOR THE NEXT 18 MONTHS. IF YOU WERE ACCEPTED TO MIT, HARVARD, PRINCETON, BOWDOIN OR WHATEVER DREAM SCHOOL IS ON YOUR RADAR—HOW DO YOU COMPARE THAT AGAINST THE COST OF WITHIN-STATE PUBLIC UNIVERSITY TUITION?

WILL YOU ATTEND A LESS SELECTIVE UNIVERSITY FOR A DEEP DISCOUNT?

There are numerous colleges that will welcome your student at a significant discount- perhaps even “free”—how far down that continuum of selectivity feels “comfortable” should you receive an acceptance to a university that is beyond your financial comfort level much further on the “educational selectivity” continuum.
ACTIONABLE ITEM:
Every family should have at least 1 to 2 financial safeties that you would consider as viable alternatives to your best public university and/or an acceptable option.
We have ZERO prediction accuracy on the state of our economy for the balance of 2021. That’s a hard fact.
Every student should have a balanced list of universities – reach, match and safety- but having a much loved “safeties” – those institutions that we KNOW the student finds attractive while offering a very appealing package of merit aid reduces a ton of stress in the college application process. Those should be on your radar and the first college applications you submit.

 

 

COLLEGE ADMISSIONS AND COLLEGE APPLICATION WORKSHOP  –

Please give me a call if you are uncertain on what to do next regarding SAT/ACT, AP exams or even your summer plans.  Connect with online college advisor Bonnie Rabin, PhD
Juniors ’22 – We’ll soon be starting our  Writers Block Workshop — this year online!  Please reach out to get scheduled for your one-on-one appointments .  I know you miss your normally packed extracurricular schedule and you had huge summer plans– the silver lining- with steady focus and determination-, we can finish your college essays and college applications well before school resumes. I’m eager to get you pumped and ready for college apps and keep you on schedule and on task. With the fall uncertain- let’s make the best of this situation.

We’ve served clients from the East to West Coasts seamlessly.

BONNIE RABIN, PHD PROVIDES ONLINE ACADEMIC ADVISING, COLLEGE COUNSELING AND COLLEGE APPLICATION GUIDANCE TO STUDENTS IN HIGH SCHOOLS THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES.

Our current and former clients reside in locations as diverse as Metro NYC, San Francisco, Boston, D.C. and Surrounding Communities, Westchester County, Boulder, Miami, Philadelphia, Chicago, Austin, Los Angeles, Central NY (Syracuse, Rochester, Ithaca), Charlotte, Denver, Boca Raton, Minneapolis and many more.

Bonnie R. Rabin, Ph.D.

Educational and College Admissions Consultant
Professor Emeritus  – Cornell Alumni Rep

In-Person South Florida(Boca Raton) and

Metro Denver & Boulder Colorado  << Please view our local pages for high schools and communities of service)

Virtually – Wherever You Are

Florida: 561.509.0021

Colorado:  720.737.9944

Nationwide:  833.MY.ESSAY

 

 

I invite you to schedule an online college counseling session with me to begin your college major research, shape your balanced list of colleges and being your Common Application process and college essays.

Our Recent College Acceptances Include:

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