Each college calculates family “financial need” separately and the calculated need figures can vary considerably from school to school. School calculations will often differ considerably from the amount YOU feel you need.
Even if a college determines that you have financial need, they are under no obligation to award you any institutional need-based grants. Since most schools have limited institutional financial aid resources. Some – like most community colleges – have no institutional grant and are limited to federal and state programs.
Unfortunately, the process by which many colleges award institutional need-based grants is highly complex and not very transparent. But, if you take it a step at a time, you will learn everything you need to know.
Visit each school’s financial aid website and read what they say about how they award financial aid.
Run an estimate of your Year 1 Net Price using the school’s Net Price Calculator. Make sure to read the fine print which will often tell you if the Net Price estimate will be accurate for your family. This is especially necessary if parents are divorced or separated or are business owners. See below in step 3 for more information on these topics.
Review these important issues relating to school-awarded need-based grants.
1. The EFC Myth
It is important that you understand what the EFC represents.
Schools that award a lot of need-based institutional grant use a version use IM to determine your eligibility for need-based grants.
It is important that you understand the differences between FM & IM.
Schools that use IM to award institutional need-based grants will like likely want information from both parents.
Schools that use IM to award institutional need-based grants often adjust eligibility upon review of business tax forms.
Which colleges are affordable for low-income students?