Understand the True Cost of College—and How to Pay for It

Paying for college can be a confusing and challenging road to navigate. We help families understand how to maximize financial aid and fully understand your college investment.

What types of financial aid exist?

It's important to understand the different types of financial aid that are out there in order to know what works best for your family. It's important to know the difference between the following types of financial aid:

Need-Based Aid

Need-based aid is awarded based on your financial need. To determine your need-based aid, colleges use information in the FAFSA to calculate your Expected Family Contribution. They then subtract that from their school’s tuition to calculate your expected need-based aid.

Merit Scholarships

Merit aid can be awarded in the form of academic scholarships or other scholarships related to extracurriculars. By building a strong academic and extracurricular profile, you can increase your chances of receiving this aid.

Student Loans

Student loans are a sum of money given to students in order to help pay for college, but they must be paid back. There are a few different types of student loans, including federal and private loans.

The FAFSA is also used to calculate federal loans. Private student loans tend to have much higher interest rates, so it’s a good idea to prioritize financial aid, merit aid, and federal loans before taking out private loans.

What is the

FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid and is the form that determines your eligibility for federal, state, and college-specific financial aid. This aid includes educational loans, grants, and work-study.

When you fill out the FAFSA, you will need your social security number and financial documents such as federal income tax returns, W-2s, and bank statements.

Can I negotiate my financial aid
with a college?

If the financial aid you received wasn’t what you were hoping for, there's a good chance that negotiating can help you get a higher aid award. Don't be afraid to reach out to a school about your financial aid, especially if you have other offers you can leverage.

How can I understand if a college
is worth it?

CollegeVine is the only college guidance company that offers data-driven chancing, then works with students to help optimize their profiles. While other companies focus on the art of admissions, we use thousands of actual applicant results to reduce chancing to a science.

Beyond that, our programs will improve your chances by teaching you how to showcase your strengths on the application. We help students with preparing the application, gaining acceptance, and even getting off the waitlist.

Find the best financial fit

Use our free admissions chances calculator and learn your chances at over 500 of schools. Start calculating your admissions chances now.