College  Financial Aid – Some Tips

By D. J. Mathews

    They say there is more than one way to skin a cat. Do they say there is more than one way to pay for college? I think they do.

    Sure, you can work summers at McDonald’s for money for books and tuition. Your parents/guardian could be independently wealthy.

    That may not be enough.

    Now, based on a 2020 law, the FAFSA (Free Application For Student Aid) form is now updated. It’s a condensed, more streamlined, easier college financial aid form to fill out. says it has removed questions about Selective Service and drug convictions (so maybe they assume everyone applying for aid is just perfect).

    Along with fewer questions, there can now be direct data exchange with the IRS and new formulas for figuring out who qualifies for what aid (such as how much). They will use something called a Student Aid Index (SAI) and Expected Family Contribution (EFC) to determine your ability to pay for college. You will receive an “index number” that will be used by the college in question’s financial aid office to calculate the financial aid you receive. Figuring into that also will be subtracting the SAI from expected expenses, like books, supplies, room and board, tuition, personal expenses, transportation.


    Suppose you don’t want to rack up a huge amount of debt when you graduate (from student loans). Then you can pursue scholarships to pay for the college you are accepted to.

    There are many out there, believe it or not. Some students apply for a dozen plus and have a “spread sheet” of applications laid out. Are you of a particular ethnic heritage, like of Italian or Polish descent? Was your father in the military or fought in a foreign war? Is there a local hero offering grants to those who want to be a public school teacher or nurse? Ask the high school counselor well versed in college scholarships about that.


    Once accepted to college (and even several months before),you can find resources about foundation grants at the college of your choice online. You can also go to:

Or or


    Some states also offer 529 savings accounts  that hopefully your parent/guardian has been paying into before college time. (See )

    According to Sallie Mae, millions of scholarships go unclaimed each year. That is a shame. It would behoove you (be wise) to look into scholarships and grants (parent and teen both) during the junior year (grade 11) to see what possibilities are out there, even visit a college or two.

    Now go get some financial aid!

(You could also get some tips on preparing your student for school with an excerpt from “Let’s Run Schools Together”. See  :



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