Paying for college is not easy but will seem less daunting after dispelling some mispercep-tions about college financing.
First, regardless of your family’s income, fill out the FAFSA (www.fafsa.ed.gov). This essential form is used by the federal and state governments and your student’s school to determine college financial aid. The application deadline is March 10. Free help in filling out the FAFSA is available at community-based sites across Indiana on College Goal Sunday, Feb. 23 (www.collegegoalsunday.org).
The College Board offers additional information and advice:
• College costs. During the last 30 years, the average published tuition and fees at four-year private schools have increased by 153 percent to $30,094 and by 231 percent to $8,893 at four-year public schools. Room and board averages an additional $9,000 to $10,000. However …
• Most families don’t pay sticker price for tuition and fees. The actual average price paid by students for tuition and fees (excluding room and board) is $3,120 at four-year public schools (65 percent below sticker) and $12,460 at four-year private schools (59 percent below sticker). In fact, after adjusting for inflation, the net cost of tuition and fees at private colleges is 8 percent lower than a decade ago.
• About two-thirds of full-time students receive financial aid. The average undergraduate receives $13,370 in financial assistance: $7,190 in grants, $4,900 in federal loans and $1,280 in tax credits, deductions and work-study.
• Good news for low-income families. A four-person household with income of $43,568 or less is eligible for Indiana’s 21st Century Scholarship and the federal Pell Grant. A student with these grants will pay nothing for tuition and fees at Indiana public schools and an average of just 10 percent of the tuition and fees at four-year private schools.
• Middle- and upper-income families can receive financial assistance. For families in the top half of household income, financial aid reduces the public school sticker price by 25 to 33 percent and the private school sticker price by 40 to 50 percent.