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Find Private Colleges with Financial Aid Opportunities

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  • 0:04 Financial Aid
  • 0:59 Net Cost
  • 2:39 Finding a School
  • 4:34 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

College can be very expensive. How can a student find a college that offers generous financial aid? In this lesson, we'll look at financial aid and its relationship to the net price of college. We'll also look at how to find colleges that give a lot of financial aid.

Financial Aid

Xander is getting ready to apply for college. He really wants to go to a small, private college, but he's just not sure he can afford it. The tuition at the private schools he's looked at is twice or sometimes three times the tuition of his local state school! What should Xander do? Should he just give up and go to the big state school that's cheaper?

Before giving up, Xander should check out his financial aid options, or the amount of grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study money that he can get. Together, these things may bring down the cost of a private college to a more manageable amount. But how does Xander know how much financial aid he is likely to get at each school? And will financial aid really help all that much? Let's look at how financial aid impacts the net cost of college and how to find a school based on financial aid.

Net Cost

Xander knows what type of college he wants to go to: small and private. But he doesn't think he can afford it. After all, his state school is so much cheaper. Even if he gets financial aid, he thinks, there's no way his cost for the private school will end up as low as that for the state school. But wait! What Xander doesn't know is that many private schools have a much lower net cost than advertised cost. The net cost of a college (also called the net price) is the cost of attending that school minus financial aid like scholarships and grants.

Let's look at Xander's situation. Let's say that School A is a small, private school that costs $30,000 per year to attend. School B is Xander's state school, a large university that only costs $10,000 per year to attend. Obviously, school B is cheaper, but does that mean it has a lower net cost? Remember that those numbers are only the cost of attending, not the net cost.

Let's say that Xander gets a scholarship from school B for $2,000. His net cost, then, is only $8,000 per year. Not bad! But private schools often offer more grant and scholarship money than public state schools do. So maybe Xander gets a scholarship from school A for $22,000. Now his net cost at school A is only $8,000, too. It would cost him the same amount to attend the private school that he really wants to attend as it would to go to the state school!

Finding a School

All that's good to know, in theory, but Xander is still trying to decide which colleges to apply to. How can he possibly know which schools will offer him a lot of financial aid before even applying?

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