Top 6 Things You Didn't Know About College Affordability

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6. Because many have strong financial aid and scholarships, private colleges can cost far less than their sticker price.

At private colleges, 90% receive aid. At public colleges, 84% receive aid.

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5. Families of all income ranges should file for financial aid, even if they think they won’t qualify for anything.

For example, last year, the average award to students at Roanoke College was $33,000 for those who filed the FAFSA.

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4. Even if a family didn’t qualify for aid with their first college-bound child, they may qualify when they have a second or third child in college.

The federal formula calculates what a family can contribute to college. With one child in college, there may be no need, but with multiple students in college, the same dollar amount is spread between more students, creating eligibility.

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3. Academic merit aid directly from a college, including grants and scholarships, are gifts, and do not need to be repaid.

They can be awarded for a variety of reasons, such as academic performance, from a scholarship competition on a college campus, and for music or choral ability.

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2. Many states award grants to students attending private colleges within their state, further helping with the cost of private colleges.

For example, the Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant awards $3,300 to Virginia residents attending a Virginia private undergraduate college.

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1. Your actual cost will usually vary from the “list price.” All colleges are required to provide a “net price calculator” to estimate your cost after any financial awards. To complete these, you’ll need your tax return (you should use the one from two years ago), W2 statements for the student and parents, student’s GPA, and standardized test scores.

But, Roanoke College also offers a Quick Calculator, based on only two easy questions. Quickly find out what your cost might be.

Use the Quick Calculator