How much does college really cost?

I'm only a sophomore in high school but I am really getting worried about how much college is actually going to cost my family. My parents bring home a pretty decent salary (over 100k) but we also live in a very expensive area to live (Northern NJ) and are in a ton of credit card debt. How generous is financial aid in situations like this? I'm really afraid that I won't be able to afford to go a decent university and I would really rather not take out student loans. Any information about how much you paid to attend college or how much financial aid you were given would help me out a ton. 

8 Answers

  • 8 months ago

    Financial aid is not generous for high income families that have a lot of debt.

  • 8 months ago

    I will tell you up front that the Financial Aid Office does not take into consideration where you live or how costly that is. It is a choice your parents made and you will not get a break for them making choices of living beyond their means. They will not look at any credit card debt. This too, is a choice. 

    They will need all income information for you and your parents. They will need to know who is dependent upon your parents (and/or you) for daily needs. They do take assets into consideration. 

    The Financial Aid Office deals with regulations, not generosity. We award based on someone's need and sometimes their GPA. 

    No one wants loans. What you can do now is research a few colleges that you like most. Get on their websites and find out the cost. Consider community or tech colleges for the first two years. Definitely consider staying in-state. 

    You are a sophomore. Time to shine. You need to be researching scholarships in your community online. You may have to work extra hard to get one or write essays. Get started. 

    Get a job! Working a couple hours after school or several on weekends is a great idea. It's a good idea for anyone to help take care of their needs and wants. This will be required information on your FAFSA. I hope you don't let that stop you from working. You will grow in a whole new way if you learn to handle a work position successfully, if you haven't done so by now. 

    No one can give you financial aid estimates until you choose a college. Even then, you will need tax info, where you plan to live, an idea of college expenses beyond tuition. Some schools will do a financial aid award work-up in your senior year so you can compare schools. Just ask. You can learn a lot here:

    All best.

    Source(s): Former Financial Aid Director Public and Private Institutions
  • 8 months ago

    Time to ask your folks if - among all their spending - they have a 529 account for your education.  Maybe the "grands" have one for you?   Discuss your college education with your parents - it might be time for the family to cut down on some spending & get their finances in order.

  • di
    Lv 4
    8 months ago

    You can apply for the FAFSA this year - it will give you an idea of what kind of aid you might qualify for (assuming things don't change drastically from 2018 to 2019 tax filings).  Check the college websites for the schools you think you are interested in.  Closer, public schools will be your least expensive options - either community colleges or public universities.  Staying close to home, as others have suggested, removes the expensive dorm & meal costs from the equation.  Speak to your HS guidance counselor NOW about recommended testing and various requirements for local scholarships.

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  • MS
    Lv 7
    8 months ago

    It certainly depends on where you go.  Colleges vary in cost considerably.  If you are worried, then you should look into public universities that are close enough where you could commute from home; room and board at my university costs more than in-state tuition does, so that really drives up the cost for many students.  If you are REALLY concerned, then a community college might be the way to go at first.

    You will complete the FAFSA your senior year, which will determine how much your family is expected to contribute.  Unfortunately their credit card debt will not be considered as part of that determination; they basically look at income, assets, and other financial benefits, as well as family size and how many will be in college at the same time.  Cost of living and debt are not considerations.

    So if your parents earn a high income and you are the only one going to school, then your Expected Family Contribution will probably be relatively high.  That just means you won't qualify for as much need-based aid such as grants and federal work-study.  You can, and should, still apply for merit scholarships (based on grades and test scores), private scholarships, and other forms of aid before you consider loans. 

  • 8 months ago

    I worked my way through college and had two roommates in a ghetto apartment. It took me 4 years to pay off the loans I took out and every moment of it was worth the price. It depends on what you consider a "decent university"! I was able to prove that I was self supporting, takes extra hoops to jump through, so that my parents' income was not a consideration with the administration.

  • 8 months ago

    The cost of my alma mater has increased tenfold since I attended.  If I had to do it again, I couldn't do it.

    Your parents are irresponsible.  You should plan on going to community college (2-year) and transferring to a state college for your last two years. ... but before you do that, figure out what your career will be, and set your major to be what will best help you get that career, and likewise the classes you take.

  • Anonymous
    8 months ago

    The usual answer, it depends.  What you take, how long, do you live at home or in a dorm, etc, etc, etc,

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