Finding financial aid doesn't have to be harder than choosing a college

Finding financial aid doesn't have to be harder than choosing a college

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By ERICA ESTEP
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- Getting money for college may be your biggest hurdle as a parent or student.

But there are sources available that you may not know about. Plus, what you pay for college could be negotiable.

To get the best deal for college, first find out how much your choice will cost. You can usually find an estimated cost of attendance on the college or university's Web site, or from the school's admissions office. 

"That is their best estimate for the cost of tuition, room, board, books, personal expenses, travel expenses," said guidance counselor Sarah Bast. "So there is that, what we call a sticker price, and sometimes it is shocking."

For example, at the University of Tennessee, tuition and fees, books and supplies, housing and food add up to more than $14,000 a year for an in-state student.

But Bast says it's an average, not what you'll have to write a check for.

So what happens if the financial aid package the school offers isn't enough? What can you do?

Surprisingly to many people, the amount you pay may be negotiable.

Don't forget to visit the financial aid office when visiting prospective colleges. 

"We tend to remember to visit classes, stay in the dorms, eat in the cafeteria and then we leave and think, now how will I pay for that?" Bast says. "Well, that would have been a good conversation to have while you're right there."  

In order to be eligible for most scholarships, loans and grants you must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In Tennessee that includes the Tennessee Lottery Scholarship.

Each college and university will also likely have merit scholarships you will have to apply for.

Don't wait until you're accepted to a school to apply for aid. Most schools offer classes and special materials to help parents fill out the necessary financial aid forms. You can also get help from your high school guidance office.

 

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