The ABC Lingo Of Applying To College
The time is almost here! Your child is in high school and will soon be applying to college. That most likely also includes applying for financial aid. During the process you will come across tons of acronyms: FAFSA, SAR, COA. While reading these for the first time can feel overwhelming, it is important to get comfortable with them. Below is a primer so that you and your child can begin the process of selecting colleges to apply to while you both also prepare financially for college expenses.
1. FAFSA - FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA is the application students fill out in order to determine their financial aid eligibility. FAFSA needs to be submitted each academic year.
2. CSS Profile - The CSS/Financial Aid Profile (often written as CSS Profile), short for the College Scholarship Service PROFILE, is an application distributed by the College Board in the United States allowing college students to apply for financial aid. The CSS Profile is used primarily by some (not all) private universities.
3. TAP - The NYS Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) helps eligible New York residents pay tuition at approved schools within New York State. Depending on the academic year in which you begin study, an annual TAP award can be up to $5,165. Because TAP is a grant, it does not have to be paid back.
4. EFC - One of the most important acronyms you'll need to know is EFC, which stands for Expected Family Contribution. The financial aid staff at each college starts by deciding upon your cost of attendance (COA) at that school. They then consider your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) based off of your FAFSA. They subtract your EFC from your COA to determine the amount of your financial need and therefore how much need-based aid you should qualify for.
5. SAR - Student Aid Report. After you submit FAFSA, you will receive your Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR summarizes the information you provided on the FAFSA, and indicates the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).
6. COA - The financial aid staff starts by deciding upon your cost of attendance (COA) at that school. They then consider your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). A college's cost of attendance (COA) is the total direct and indirect costs of a year of college. The cost of attendance may also be called the student budget or the sticker price. Direct costs are costs that are paid directly to the college, such as tuition and fees. What's Included in the COA? As dictated by Congress, the COA is the average cost to attend for one academic year (fall through spring). It includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation, and personal expenses. Colleges adjust the COA yearly to reflect changes to these costs.
7. NPC - Net Price Calculator. Net Price is the amount that a student pays to attend an institution in a single academic year AFTER subtracting scholarships and grants the student receives. Scholarships and grants are forms of financial aid that a student does not have to pay back. A Net Price Calculator should be available on every school’s website.
8. ED - If your child applies Early Decision to a school, those plans are binding — a student who is accepted as an ED applicant must attend that specific college unless there is true financial hardship that is acknowledged by the academic institution.
9. EA - Early Action plans, however, are nonbinding — students receive an early response to their application but do not have to commit to the college until the normal reply date of May 1.
10. RD - Regular Decision is the normal process by which students apply to the colleges of their choosing by published deadlines, with promise of receiving an admissions decision no later that April 1 of their senior year.
At College Financial Prep, we help families navigate this crazy maze towards college! Now, with a better understanding of the lingo, you will be able to make better, more informed decisions.
College Financial Prep is looking forward to working with you and your family! For more information on strategically planning for and applying to college to maximize merit and/or need based aid and scholarships, financial aid form preparation, student loans and more, contact College Financial Prep at 516-225-5224 today.
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College Financial Prep provides families with cost saving strategies, scholarship research and financial aid preparation. Contact College Financial Prep today at 516-225-5224!