Finding Your Financial Safety Schools                     by Patti Brugman


With Black Friday around the corner, now is the time to shop for a college deal. Often the best financial safety schools are lovely institutions without a name brand.     

         Now that it’s almost Black Friday and the spending season, let’s talk about getting a deal on your college expenses.  If you were a conservative parent or perhaps a CPA, you might have been saving $1000 dollars per month every year since your child was born.  If you are that parent, you are excused from reading the rest of this blog. Go read the funny papers. You deserve it.

         For the rest of us, the thought of paying for college brings on worry, hope, and stomach pain.  We worry that we will never be able to pay the cost of college.  We hope that our talented, above-average student will get a full ride.  And, we know we can ease the stomach pain with a good plan. If only... At Perfect Fit, we like to create a tiered list of schools for admission. Generally, students think of arranging their colleges in order from safeties that are easy to get into, to targets, to reaches, which are the hardest to get into.  Now let’s make a second list, sorted by price!

         Financial caution keeps both families and institutions strong. If you have a real financial need, follow all the directions on how to apply for aid.  If you have asn anxiety about the cost of college because you know you don't qualify for aid, start looking for colleges that you can afford.

         There are two ways to think of price.  There is the price tag that you find on the college's website: tuition, room and board, plus additional expenses. Then there is the adjusted price tag for your student. The lowest priced schools come from their desire to have your student attend, not from your desire to attend that school.  They more they find you desirable, the more likely it is that they will entice you with merit money.

         If you are in a situation where you can pay full tuition (and are still reading this blog), this is great news for your student. At many schools, “full pay applicants” gain a certain advantage when it comes to admission. But what if you thought you were full pay, and the bottom drops out of the market? Or your income takes a sudden dive, or any other of life’s mishaps come your way?  Every student should have at least one financial safety school on his/her college list, just in case.

         Determining the schools that will be financially safe for your student means looking carefully at the schools that are pursuing your student.  If St. Mary’s is sending lots of mail, St. Mary's might offer your student a merit scholarship. Advertising flyers from colleges are generated from questionnaires the student has filled out, boxes he/she might have checked when taking the ACT or SAT, or by showing interest in a school on line, or at a college fair. Mail is an excellent indicator of a college’s interest in your student.

         Choosing to apply and accept a “financial” safety school often means giving up a name brand. The schools that will benefit from your wonderfully qualified student may be schools you haven’t heard of before. Check out:  Hood, Manhattan, and New England College. You’ll be surprised at their charm and even happier when you see the merit money they offer!

--Happy Thanksgiving from Perfect Fit College.Net