Finding the funds to pay for your child's college
education is like filling a test tube. The length of
the tube represents the cost of education at any one
school (tuition, fees, books, room and board,
transportation, and personal expenses), and it's your
job to fill it.
The first ingredient is what you'll have to
contribute from your own pocket: the expected family
contribution (EFC), which is determined by the
federal government's financial aid formula.
Your EFC is the same regardless of the college
your child chooses. The difference between your EFC
and the cost of a particular college equals your
child's financial need, which is a variable.
To meet this financial need, your child might be
eligible for financial aid in the form of loans,
grants, scholarships, and/or work-study funds from
the federal government, the college itself, and/or
independent organizations. (In some cases, a family's
EFC may be enough to satisfy all college costs.)
Your child may not receive all the financial aid
he or she needs. If so, you'll have to top off the
tube with more of your own funds, which are in
addition to the EFC.