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Don't Let the Cost of Attendance Scare You Off – Financial Aid is available.
Have you found your dream college? Have you looked into how much it will cost to attend every year and automatically struck it off your application list because you just don't think you can afford it? Hold on! There is a range of financial aid available that will contribute to these costs.What is Cost of Attendance (COA)?
In simple terms Cost of Attendance is the amount, per year it will cost to go to the college of your choice. In the 2003-2004 academic year the average four year public course cost just over $5000 and the average for a private four year course was $20,000! However, we should note at this point that over 50% of students receive federal financial aid to help pay for this cost. In fact, if it is deemed that you have financial need the majority of this COA will be paid by a combination of a federal grant, federal loan or work-study program.What does the COA consist of?
This COA is determined by rules of law and generally includes:
The financial aid office at the college you are planning to attend will be able to provide you with your COA.How can you obtain financial aid?
Before you begin striking more expensive colleges or even private colleges off your list because of the affordability factor, you should identify whether or not you will qualify for enough financial aid to enable you to go.
This can be achieved by submitting a FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid) to the government. This form will enable the government to determine the financial situation of you, the student, and your family if you are a dependent. From this form, they will work out what financial aid you qualify for, if any, and what your families Expected Financial Contribution (EFC) is. You'll be surprised just how much free money for college you may receive in the form of a federal grant there is available. You could also be awarded a federal loan which will provide a major contribution to the COA too!What if my family can't afford their EFC, will this stop me going?
Not necessarily! All we have discussed at this point is the federal financial aid available to the student. You can finance their EFC by using a parent PLUS loan, an unsubsidized Stafford loan or a private loan. All of these avenues should be exhausted before you can really work out if you can afford to go to the college of your dreams or not. With the range of financial aid available to those that have financial need, the answer is more likely to be yes than no!