Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Financial Aid Process

By Jodi Okun

It may be hard to imagine, but your child will be a college student before you know it. You’re not on your own when faced with the bill, however. Financial aid makes up the difference between college costs and what your family can afford to pay. More than half of the students currently enrolled in college receive some sort of financial aid.

Paying for a college education is no small undertaking. There are many questions to consider: what will it cost, how much can you save, how much can you and your family afford to pay, how much will you need to borrow, and what scholarships are available to you? Not sure where to start? Here’s an overview:

  • Find out what college will cost: The price tag depends on the college and when you plan to attend. The cost calculator located on each college web site will help you estimate college costs whether you plan to start in one year or ten.
  • See if you are saving enough: The College Board Savings Calculator will show you how compound interest helps you make the most of what you save, now and in the future.
  • Estimate your share: Before you apply for aid, first determine what you can afford to pay based on family income, savings and other financial holdings. The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) calculator on will provide an estimate.
  • Search for scholarships: Scholarships or grants are one of the best sources of aid because they don’t have to be repaid. Find scholarships as well as loan and internship opportunities with Scholarship Search websites such as and
  • Apply for aid and loans: Know your financial aid and loan options. Both are a part of most students’ complete aid package, so it’s important to understand the differences in the financial aid and educational loans available to you.
  • Compare your aid awards: Each college awards financial aid differently. One may give more grant money, another more loans. I can help you compare your aid awards and make sense of the numbers.
Jodi is the founder of College Financial Aid Consultants where she works closely with students and their families to successfully navigate the financial aid process. Jodi not only helps identify grants, loans and scholarships available to students, but also helps submit the multitude of forms associated with obtaining them. Jodi also works at Occidental College in their Financial Aid office as a Financial Aid Consultant.

This year Jodi began the #CollegeCash live twitter seminar held every Thursday from 10:00-11:00 pm EST. Each week participants include industry professionals, students, parents and teachers coming together to share information. The live twitter seminar covers all topics within the college prep process and many financial aid tips. 

You can follow Jodi on Twitter or on Facebook

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