College Planning Resources

Parent College Planning Tips

College Visits

  • Before making a campus visit, you should sit down with your child and see if they object if you ask your own set of questions
    • Review your questions with them
    • If they say No, ask if they wouldn’t mind asking the questions in a way that they are comfortable with, which means the questions may need to be rewritten
  • It is best to set up an appointment with the college rather than  a casual stop by approach
    • Verify the times available for visiting potential students and parents
    • Allow enough time to see the campus and immunities as well as sit with an Admission Counselor or Financial Aid to ask questions
  • Consider the time of when you will make a campus visit
    • Visiting during Summer Sessions is a different time and atmosphere than the normal academic semester sessions
    • Depending on how far apart each campus visit is from one another, it is best to schedule no more than two visits a day so you are not rushing or running behind
    • If your visits require hotel accommodations, ask the college what they suggest and also ask what campus events or activities are scheduled and try to attend


Type of Colleges

  • Public schools are supported by the state's taxpayers. Students pay 30 percent or less of the actual cost of education, and the state covers the rest. Because residents of the state already support the school through taxes, public schools charge residents (in-state students) less than nonresidents (out-of-state students).
  • Private schools provide their own funding and tend to be more expensive than public schools. Since private schools are not tax-supported, they also tend to be more innovative in developing college financing plans, tuition assistance programs, and financial aid award packages.
  • Community Colleges that have a 2+2 Program
  • The 2+2 options is a unique dual admission offered program that allows the student to attend for 2 years and transfer to another selected four year institution where there is an agreement for accepting earned college credits


How to Pay for College - Develop a Financial Plan

There are four basic steps to pay for college.

  1. Estimate the cost of where your child wants to attend college
  2. Create a personal and or family budget to determine how much you will be able to save or how you will need to save on a monthly basis
  3. Consider the monetary difference of your savings and the college cost with financial aid and other assistance such as loans, work study, scholarships
  • Gift aid (aid that doesn't have to be paid back like grants and scholarships)
  • Loans (money you pay back)
  • Work programs (where you earn wages to apply toward college).


  1. Apply for financial aid even if you don't think you qualify.
  • Every school has its own financial aid process
  • The financial aid process starts by filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
  • Fill out your FAFSA as soon after January 1 (before your freshman year) as you can

Decision Points

  • Start the college search process early
    • Have your child register and take standardize tests such as ACT, SAT, AP, PSAT
    • Size and Location
      • How big of a college (student body size taking into account all areas of full time, part time, commuters, online, etc.)
      • Will on campus housing be needed
      • City limits vs. rural or suburbs
    • Consult with your or a financial advisor or college admissions expert
    • Communicate with your child as expectation, concerns, limits, etc. and allow them to share their thoughts and feelings as well. After all, they are the ones going to college not you
    • Work together on the filling out the applications to meet deadlines since your child will not all of the information required of you for the application and admissions process

The Magic Estimated Family Income (EFC) Number

  • Financial need is the difference between the college costs and the EFC of the student
  • The EFC is the magic number that tells you what amount of money you will need to contribute to your child’s college costs
  • This is part of the financial aid process called the Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
  • The EFC is based on the income and other financial assets of you and your college-bound child
  • There are several financial aid tools/calculators via the internet that can assist you in calculating your EFC
  • What is important to remember is the number provided is only an estimator, though it will be a good starting point as to the possibility of how much aid you will be eligible for
  • A financial Aid package will be provided for you by each individual college that your child applies to
  • Check with each financial aid office of the college(s) your child is applying to and verify they do not require other forms for financial assistance in addition to the FAFSA

 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

  • Every college in the United States requires anyone applying for financial aid to file the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
    • Each college has their own deadline regarding financial aid
    • Each college has a set amount of money budgeted for aid recipients – The old saying “The early bird gets the worm” really does apply here
    • Apply with estimated numbers if you do not have your tax returns completed because you can always revise the FAFSA
    • Fill out FAFSA from your completed federal income tax return
    • Download a copy of FAFSA via the web or ask your student to obtain a hard copy from their Guidance Counselor
      • Practice filling it out before marking up the final copy so you become familiar with the form
    • FAFSA allows your child to list up to six colleges to have financial aid information be sent
    • Soon after you file the FAFSA, your child will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR)
    • If the FAFSA was completed correctly and signed, the SAR will show your child's EFC
      • Review the SAR carefully for errors, make any needed corrections and send it back to the address indicated on the form
      • Replace estimates with "real" numbers, if possible

Tracking and Comparing the Different Financial Aid Packages

  • Make a checklist of what each college requires to help you keep track of the financial aid offers
  • Once you have submitted all financial aid paperwork, call the college financial aid office to confirm your child's application has arrived and is complete


Comparing Financial Aid Packages

  • Consider the following questions when assessing a financial aid package:
    • Does the aid meet your child's financial need?
    •  What proportion of the package is loans (money that needs to be repaid) versus grants and work-study
    • Is the money for all years of college your child is attending or one year at a time and you need to reapply?
    • Will you child help you repay loans after college?

Other Financial Sources

  • 529 and Other College Saving Plans for Dummies (Book)
  • 529 Educational Savings Plans
  • 529 Prepaid Tuition Plans
  • Coverdell Educational Savings Plans (ESA’s)
  • Federal Family Education Loan Program
  • Federal Loans
  • UGMA’s and UTMA’s
  • Scholarships and Grants
  • Student Loans
  • IRA’s
  • Borrow from your 401k
  • Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)
  • Hope Tax Scholarship Tax Credit
  • Parent PLUS Loans
  • Prepaid Tuition Plan
  • Qualified Tuition Plan (QTP)
  • Tax Benefits (Credits/Deductions)
  • US Treasury Saving Bonds
  • Military Options




© 2019 College Planning Resources - All Rights Reserved  |   Websites by SiteSteward, Inc