Paying for college is difficult, especially in a tough economy. But financial aid is available for students who know how to work the system. Here are three tools to help:
What it is: A ballpark estimate of attendance cost.
Prospects should request a preread from a college coach early in the recruiting process, but not unless they have sincere interest in the coach's program. To get an accurate preread, you must submit the following information:
- Prior year income and taxes paid, with W-2 forms
- Parental divorce/separation paperwork, if applicable
- Completed budget worksheet (on a form usually provided by the coach)
- Admissions data (standardized test scores, class rank, etc.)
A pre-read can tell you in two weeks how much it costs to attend a school.
What it is: A financial aid package offered to an admitted student, often including a leadership grant.
These awards are highly selective, rewarding top students, special interest prospects and those with strong financial need. Communicate your financial aid interest and concerns to the college coach, who may be able to recommend you for one of these awards. Coaches can uncover potential scholarships that most applicants don't know about.
What it is: An offer of financial aid offered by one school to match the offer of another school.
As an incentive for you to attend, some schools will match a financial aid offer from another institution. When this occurs, usually toward the end of a recruiting season, it's often between competing schools, such as those in the same conference. Only compare packages from serious potential choices.
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