9 Financial Aid Questions and Answers

This post is for current and future college students. It attempts to provide answers for questions that impact each and every undergraduate student seeking assistance with financing their college education.

  1. Can I know exactly how much a college education will cost before the freshman year?

Unfortunately as much as we’d like to know and be able to plan for college costs, until one completes college, one doesn’t really know how much a college will cost. Here are some reasons why one cannot know the entire cost of college on the front end.

First, financial aid eligibility. Need and/or merit based grants come with financial and/or academic requirements. If one does not meet those financial and/or academic requirements eligibility for these grants can be lost. Losing a grant means that students and/or parents need to come up with a way to cover college costs.

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5 Reasons Why Changing Majors Late in College Is Not a Good Idea

The fall semester is about to begin, so this post is for juniors and seniors getting ready to return to college. While there is no specific definition of what constitutes a junior or senior student in college, we’ll use the number of credit hours completed as a measure. Therefore, a student that completed at least 60 credit hours is a junior and one that completed at least 90 credit hours is senior. As a point of reference, a college degree typically requires the completion of 120 credit hours.

Therefore, here are some of the reasons why changing majors late in the game could backfire.

As a point of clarification, I am not saying that changing majors is bad, in fact changing majors is good. Studies showed that students who change majors are more likely to continue their college education and not drop out than students who don’t change majors. These changes in majors, however, are best to occur during the first two years rather than the last two years of college.

Therefore, if you think about changing majors during your junior year or later, keep the following reasons in mind:

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College’s Best Kept Secret: The College Placement Tests

This is a time to celebrate the acceptance letter(s), weigh in the financial aid packet(s), and decide on the college that you’d like to attend this fall. Before we go any further let me congratulate you on your acceptance. While the focus now is on enjoying the senior year of high school, the prom, and spending as much time as possible with your high school friends, please know that there is one more thing you need to pay close attention to. It has everything to do with high school and everything to do with college. It’s the college placement test and it’s one of the best kept secrets in higher education. The college placement test is administered by the vast majority of institutions (colleges/universities) to a large portion of the incoming freshmen class.

Studies have found that the majority of high school graduates are not prepared for the rigors of college work or what is commonly referred to as college ready. About 75 percent of the colleges and universities test their incoming freshman to determine if they are ready for college level courses. This is the part where you’ll probably say, but I have a decent SAT score and a good high school GPA so I don’t need to be tested.

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9 Strategies to Ensure Successful Transfer from Community College to University

Starting at the community college and transferring to the university to complete a college degree provides several benefits, including:

• Lower overall college costs – tuition and fees are lower at the community college and community colleges are unlikely to have living on campus requirements.
• Skipping standardized testing (SAT/ACT)
• Earning a credential along the way – the Associate of Arts (AA) degree.

This post provides actionable information to ensure that the maximum number of credits transfer from community college to university. Continue reading “9 Strategies to Ensure Successful Transfer from Community College to University”

The 4 Building Blocks of The College Sticker Price

Sticker price represents the total cost of a year of college and is a combination of four categories of costs. While very few people pay the sticker price it is helpful to know what these costs entail and where to go to learn more information about them. Sticker price is also referred to as sticker shock and it is one of the main factors impacting the college attendance decision. However, as noted before, very very few people pay sticker price because many qualify for some type of grants or scholarships.


  1. Tuition represents the amount of dollars an institution charges per credit hour. Depending on the institutional control (public or private) the institution has varying degrees of control over it. Some public institutions have no control over their tuition while other public ones have full control over it. For privates tuition setting control belongs to the institution and they can adjust it as they see fit. Tuition adjustments, typically increases, occur before the fall semester and an institution’s website is the best way to get a clear picture of the actual cost.

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Five Facts about Tuition Discounting

College costs can play an important role in the college selection process. As early admission and early decision time is upon us and since nobody wants to graduate with a lot of debt, knowing what tuition discounting is as well as how it can be impacted by changes in finances and academic performance is important.

Tuition discounting is a common practice used by institutions (colleges and universities) to decrease costs and attract students.

  • Tuition discounting represents the amount of grants and scholarships that a student gets but does not have to repay it back. The main source for these discounts is institutional aid (the institution’s funds). Applying for other scholarships can help boost the discounting amount, but the largest amount of funds would typically come from the institution.

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5 Reasons Why the Majority of Students Need More Than 4 Years to Graduate College

One of the greatest contemporary myths is that college is a 4-year experience. However, only about 19-36% of the students graduate college in 4-years. The problem is that every extra year spent in college after the 4-year mark can cost a student up to $65,000 in immediate expenses (cost of attendance and foregone income) as well as up to $150,000 over the course of a lifetime. This post focuses on five reasons why most students need more than 4-years to complete a college degree.

Remedial Education Courses. According to a recent report about 26 percent of high school graduates met all college readiness benchmarks. Continue reading “5 Reasons Why the Majority of Students Need More Than 4 Years to Graduate College”

College Costs between 1998-2016


Here is the link to some historical information on tuition and fees as well as room and board costs charged by about 3,000 colleges and universities in the US, between 1998 and 2016.

The list includes 2- and 4-year, public and private-for, and private not-for-profit. These are sticker prices (as in published tuition and fees) and do not include tuition discounts.


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Vertical College Transfer – From Community College to University


Credit transfer between a college (2-year institution) and a university (4-year institution) is referred to as vertical transfer. Credit transfer between community college and university is one of the most common types of credit transfer and one of the most efficient ones. It is the most common one because most articulation or institutional transfer agreements cover it. It is efficient because credit loss is minimal during the transfer process. Continue reading “Vertical College Transfer – From Community College to University”