Indeed, the average annual cost of attendance (tuition, room and board, and other expenses) at private U.S. colleges is often over $40,000 USD, with several now over $70,000 per year” to this: “The annual cost of attendance (tuition, room and board, and other expenses) at private U.S. colleges can range anywhere from $40,000 USD to over $70,000 per year.
Paying for college is a family affair. Parents and students must work together to make college affordable. Obviously, the earlier you start, the easier it will be; however, it's never too late to make a difference. There are four basic ways to pay for college:
You can save enough to cover all college expenses before you child enrolls.
You can work to pay for expenses while your child is enrolled in college
You can take out loans and pay after your child graduates.
You can apply for need-based financial aid.
Conversations about finances are important during the college process. Students can only make realistic choices if they understand their family’s ability to to pay. Honest communication between parents and students about finances is essential.
The SAS college counselors are available to have conversations about how to make college choices depending on your financial circumstances.
Cost of College
In most countries, the price tag of the college reflects what you will pay to attend. In the US, this is not always the case. College prices may vary from the published price based on your family’s ability to pay and/or merit scholarships.
When looking at college costs in the US, make sure you are considering all of the costs associated with attending college: tuition, room and board, fees, travel expenses, books, and personal expenses.
Financial Aid Vocabulary
It is important to understand the different kinds of financial aid available if you are applying to schools in the US. Financial aid can be divided into two categories: need-based and non-need based. Here is some basic terminology:
Need-based financial aid: This is aid provided only to those who apply and qualify, based on the US government’s and the school’s assessment of a family’s ability to pay. Once a family’s ability to pay has been determined, assistance may be provided in a variety of ways:
Grants: This is money given to a family that does not need to be repaid.
Loans: Most financial aid packages ask families to take out loans, which must be repaid over time with interest. These loans are usually provided by the US government for US citizens. Private loans are much less desireable options.
Work Study: Students may be asked to take a job on campus during the school year as part of a financial aid package.
Non-need-based financial aid: Many colleges award “merit scholarships,” which are monies that are provided by the individual institutions and do not need to be repaid. At most schools, these merit scholarships do not require extra applications. Please check colleges websites carefully if you are interested in the possibility of merit scholarships, because at some institutions, merit money is only available to US citizens.Students may also apply for private, outside scholarships. A good search engine for these may be found on the Fastwebwebsite. Note that most of these private scholarships are available only to US citizens.
The decision about whether to apply for aid is complex. Some families will absolutely need to apply; others will wonder whether they will qualify and whether it is worth it to submit an application. Please note that many colleges are “need-aware” in their reading of applications -- in other words, they may take a student’s ability to pay into consideration when they are making an admissions decision. We recommend that you start your consideration of financial aid possibilities early, that you do good research about the financial aid process, and that you have a conversation with your SAS college counselor about your options.
The financial application process is separate from the college application process -- and it has its own set of timelines. Please check the financial aid website of each college to which your son or daughter is applying and keep a list of each school’s requirements and deadlines.
All US citizens applying for need-based financial aid in the US must complete the FAFSA, the US federal application for student aid. This application is free.
Some US colleges may also ask students to complete separate institutional applications. Others may require that students fill out the CSS Profile, a tool created by the College Board to capture more financial information. There is a small fee for submitting the Profile.
Options Vary Based on Citizenship
Non-US citizens attending US colleges are not eligible for any US government aid. Only a small number of colleges offer aid to international students. You may want to review the information provided byeduPASS, which also maintains a list of colleges and universities that provide aid to international students. Read the Non-US Citizen information for additional details. Your SAS college counselor is also available to talk with you about your options.
This section applies to students who are US citizens and who believe they have financial need that will require governmental support in order for them to be able to afford a college education in the United States. (Please note that only student citizenship is required to apply, not parental citizenship.)
In the US, federal financial aid is only available to US citizens who demonstrate "financial need" as determined by a federal formula. Need-based financial aid may be available in the form of grants (these do not have to be paid back and are sometimes referred to as “scholarships"), low-interest loans, and student work-study programs.
Financial aid forms include:
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) — this is the primary federal financial aid application used by colleges and universities
CSS Profile — many universities (mostly private) supplement the FAFSA information with information from the CSS Profile
Please be aware that colleges and universities are at their own discretion to set deadlines for these form(s), so do check financial aid webpages diligently for each institution if you are seeking financial aid.
Demonstrated financial need is the federal calculation of the cost of attendance (COA) of a university, minus the expected family contribution (EFC).
COA* - EFC** = Demonstrated Financial Need
*Cost of Attendance = tuition, fees, room, board, expenses, books, supplies, personal items, travel costs, etc.
**Expected Family Contribution = the amount your family can reasonably be expected to contribute toward the student’s education based on information entered into the FAFSA and/or CSS Profile
Once a school has determined your EFC, they will use the need based resources they have available to try to "meet" your financial need. Please note that many—if not most—universities do not meet all financial need for all students. There may be a gap between the assistance you require and what a university is able to offer.
If finances are a concern for your family, we encourage you to work closely with your college counselor to consider institutions which will best meet your needs.
For additional information about residency, check the requirementsfor the different US states. “ to this: “For additional information about residency, we would suggest that you Google each individual state’s requirements. The requirements can vary greatly from state to state, and it is important that you understand the specific policies of the state about which you have questions.
Very few colleges or universities in the world offer financial aid to students who are not citizens of that country. Students who are not US citizens or permanent residents should plan on finding their own sources of money to pay for their US college education. If you are not a US citizen, the cost of a college may become a large factor in your choice of where to apply.
If cost is an issue for your family, please be upfront about that as you're meeting with your SAS counselor.
DEMONSTRATING FINANCIAL RESOURCES
If you are not a US citizen but plan to go to the US for college, you will be required to obtain a visa from the US Department of Immigration before you travel to the US to attend college. This requires you to demonstrate that you have the necessary funds for the first academic year. For most schools you must complete a "certification of finances" form and attach documentation showing that your family has sufficient financial resources to pay for your schooling. Most colleges do not require this documentation until after you are admitted, but some ask for it at the time of application.