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February 2007 Visits (& News)

on February 1, 2007 in College Visits

coloradoPaying for College

Right now is a great time for juniors to start thinking about the types of financial aid available at the colleges on their lists. There are two basic kinds: need-based aid, and merit aid. Some schools can meet 100% of a student’s financial needs with just merit aid, and others may use a combination of merit and need-based aid to meet only part.

Need-based financial aid is available in the form of grants, loans, and work-study programs. Data on the percentage of aid given in grants versus loans can tell you a lot about what to expect from each college.

Merit aid—or grants for students with good grades or test scores—has been growing fast in recent years, though, as schools compete for the best students. This type of aid is often mentioned in the acceptance letter. While some of the most selective schools in the nation don’t offer any merit aid at all, many other colleges do, and being in the top third of an applicant pool can often mean getting this kind of aid. Make sure to read the fine print, though: this aid might not apply to all four years, and it might have grade requirements attached.

Academic and athletic scholarships are also available, and can be either merit or need-based (or a combination of both).

Go to the College Board’s website and click on a school’s profile to learn more about the types of financial aid they offer.

To calculate how much your family might be expected to contribute to tuition, go to this section of the College Board’s website (also: read more about how some colleges have changed the way they calculate home equity in granting aid). Financial aid forms include either the FAFSA or the CSS profile, and each uses a different formula to calculate your contribution. Understanding the differences and knowing which form a school uses can give you an early warning about the amount aid you may get. For seniors who will be getting award packages soon, use this calculator to compare your awards since they can vary substantially. For more information, read these valuable comments from students about college costs.

Update on Colorado College

If you like to immerse yourself in one subject at a time, consider Colorado College (top photo), a liberal arts school in Colorado Springs which enrolls fewer than 2000 students. The key to CC’s immersion formula is in how it times courses: the college doesn’t have quarters or semesters, but a unique Block Plan which divides the academic year into eight three-and-a-half week segments (blocks). Students take one principal course at a time and professors teach one. Some courses may last for one block, others for two or three blocks, depending on the nature of the material. For a hands-on learner who likes to include field work, lab work, lectures and projects, this is an ideal learning approach. CC isn’t for procrastinators, as things move fast, but it is perfect for high-energy learners who want to focus on one particular area in depth. Afternoons include many options in the arts, and 80% of students participate. The Colorado College summer program for high school students is a great way to experience CC before applying.

The Common Application

Once again, the Common Application has added a new group of colleges for students applying next fall, including some public institutions. The Common Application is a one-stop option for students applying to multiple colleges, allowing students to complete just one application to send to any of the participating institutions. Application fees are often waived for students applying online. Many colleges also require supplemental information and essays, so your work is not quite completed with the Common Application, but it certainly can simplify the process. Here is the list of new colleges to be added next year:

  • Augsburg College (MN)
  • Augustana College (IL)
  • Augustana College (SD)
  • Berry College (GA)
  • Colorado State University (CO)
  • Emerson College (MA)-photo right
  • Franklin Pierce College (NH)
  • Illinois Institute of Technology (IL)
  • Keystone College (PA)
  • List College (NY)
  • Meredith College (NC)
  • Old Dominion University (VA)
  • Olin College of Engineering (MA)
  • Pacific University (OR)
  • Quinnipiac University (CT)
  • Stanford University (CA)
  • Stockton College (NJ)
  • Thiel College (PA)
  • Thomas College (ME)
  • University at Albany (SUNY)
  • University of Dayton (OH)
  • University of New Haven (CT)
  • Westminster College (UT)

The Common Application will be posted in July for students applying next fall, but if you want to get a preview of what an application entails, download this year’s four-page application. Next year’s application will be very similar.

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