It’s a daunting feeling to have to deal with all the steps it takes to send your son or daughter to college. Or to send yourself to college. Financing is the biggest concern and questionable concerns from parents and students. I get questions all the time, and the most recent conversation I had with a mother got me thinking about how many of them are the same types of questions.

I always say if you have a questions, there are dozens more wondering the same thing. It’s especially true with college search and financing.

Well, the most recent Q & A I held with a concerned Mom covers some great ground. It might help to answer those questions for you!

If not, please see below how you can post your comments, questions or concerns.

Mom: When I filled out the FAFSA, it gave me an estimated EFC (estimated family/financial contribution) does that mean she will get aid and loans for the rest?

Keith: Oh no problem at all. I don’t mind answering this I actually enjoy this, so it’s cool…if you can believe it…lol.

Please check with a professional as I’m NOT a financial aid officer, but this is what I’ve experienced.  Yes, the estimated is based on all the info you guys provided on your FAFSA, then it is estimated that her financial contributions would be that much. That is what the government expects you to contribute toward her schooling.

There should be an exact amount given to you.

Mom: lol, some people thrive on pressure I guess. It’s probably not so hard after you’ve done it.  No, not yet. We didn’t get the SAR (Student Aid report) yet. Just the est. EFC  It says we may be eligible for a Pell grant of up to $3400. ACG of $750 and loans

Keith: o ok.  That sounds about right.  I don’t think that is the entire amount. There might be more or less, but it gives you a guide about what to expect. Then you can make adjustments to the schools she’s thinking about attending.

Mom: WHEW!!!

Keith: Pell grants can vary wildly depending on your total income last year in 09. Remember, the less you make and have, the bigger the chance of getting more money. BUT it also depends on timeliness as well. And you all got your forms sent in on time and will access to more grants

Mom: Cuz it costs more than that just for the dorm.

Keith: Yes, most schools don’t give you exactly the amount you have to pay, so be sure to ask for a detailed invoice of all costs and charges.

Keith:  Also they would send you the SAR and that report will show the amount you get in Pell grant. Then the amount for any other school grants that she might be eligible. Then they would give you the exact amount owed above and beyond that. They would then give you guys several options about what would work best for you

Mom: So our EFC could be higher?  Is the EFC per semester, or year?

Keith: It’s per year and it might go higher, but it’s doubtful.

Mom: ok

Keith: That’s what they think you are able to pay toward school

Mom: So we shouldn’t pay more than that?

Keith: Well, what they do is estimate what they (FAFSA) think you can pay toward school. Based on total costs and your 2009 income and savings, etc. Then based on what they think you can contribute and the rest of what is owed, they would then send you the SAR report and show what they can do on their end.  So anything outside of that would have to be found like through you guys paying, or loans or other ways of paying the rest

Mom: So they try to get close to the EFC, then we make up the difference with scholarships and loans?

Keith: Yes, well they don’t really make any effort to help pay it

Mom: Do they usually get close?

Keith: They just do a numbers thing and it automatically will give them the amount. You will have the amount provided too you in different variables. The Student Aid Report will show these amounts nice and simple for you.

Mom: So, it won’t be the full amount of college that financial aid would cover right? Where else do we get it from?

Keith: They always show different ways that you could get money. You could apply for a “Parent Loan” they have available. I think that’s what it is called, but it’s stated on the SAR form.

Keith: Now….the loan thing is not a scary thing. Loans are actually okay to have for college. Ask anyone that has a Bachelors Degree. Most likely they all took out some sort of loans to pay for college, and they would probably agree that it was not that big of a deal to pay them back.  It won’t hurt her credit as long as she pays it on time, but the monthly payments are quite low and they are very easy to work with

Mom: I’d hate for her to finish college under a mountain of debt. You said there could be other grants through the school?

Keith: Well you shouldn’t go bankrupt for college. But, student loans are usually inevitable for any student these days.  Yea, I would check with the college as soon as you get your SAR report. Let them know what you have in award and see what other options they might have for you as far as grants and what not at the actual school. They will have your form, so they will know.

Keith: Ok, good. The earlier the better.

Keith: It’s also good that she’s staying in state. Much cheaper that way. But, once you get the report, it will actually give you some ways that you could get more money.  It will offer grants, scholarships, other types of special loans or grants.

Keith: They will also offer work-study opportunities, but most of the rest of the money will be through student loans…unsubsidized or subsidized loans

Mom: I think she is happy with her choice, she doesn’t want to be that far away from the family, and she knows that when she’s done she will be able to go anywhere

Keith: Exactly.  Well, don’t stress about student loans She will probably have about 20-25K in loans (just a guess) before it’s all said and done to pay back.

Keith: Always know that there is someone out there that can help or answer these questions.

Please email me at thehopechest@keithlipke.com if you have more questions. Also, be sure to visit WWW.FAFSA.GOV for specific deadlines and instructions. There is more at the hope chest website as well. Its always good to be prepared and ready. Be honest in any forms you fill out for financial aid, as they could review and find out stuff that you were not honest about.

It is a tough experience, but not that tough. It will go by quickly, and I’m here to help. Email me at thehopechest@keithlipke.com or respond to this blog.


My success is your success,

Keith Lipke

Keith Lipke is a careers and college coach, mentor and blogger at the hope chest. His passion is to educate, inspire, and give hope to young people who need it upon their search for the right career and college.