The ABC Lingo Of Applying To College
The time is almost here! Your child will be applying to college and 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 get ready to send in those college applications
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 New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) helps eligible New York residents pay tuition at approved schools in 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 starts by deciding upon your cost of attendance (COA) at that school. They then consider your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). 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 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.
11. FERPA - refers to The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This is a federal privacy law that gives parents certain protections with regard to their children's education records, such as report cards, transcripts, disciplinary records, contact and family information, and class schedules. As a parent, you have the right to review your child's education records and to request changes under limited circumstances.
However, when a student turns 18 years old or enters a postsecondary institution at any age, all rights that you have as a parent under FERPA transfer to the student. FERPA does provide ways in which a school may—but is not required to-share information from an eligible student's education records with parents, without the student's consent. For example:
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, informed decisions.
For more information on Financial Aid form preparation, strategically planning for and applying to college to maximize merit and/or need based aid as well as finding institutional scholarships, contact College Financial Prep at 516-225-5224 today or visit www.CollegeFinancialPrep.com. College Financial Prep is looking forward to working with you and your family!