I find all too often parents tend to focus on the sticker price of college tuition instead of the actual true total out of pocket cost of college. A simple but critical formula to know before you apply to any school is COA-EFC=Need. The acronym means Cost of Attendance minus Estimated Family Contribution, what the government says you are financially responsible for once filing the FAFSA (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid), equals Need, or the Gap the school may or may not help you with. You want to know what percentage of Need the school will meet, and of that how much will be in Gift Aid, Scholarships/Grants/Work Study and Tuition Reduction, and how much will be in Self Help, which is from your savings or Loans.

To read more about the costs and a comparison of the pros and cons of private education, read the rest on Luanne Lee’s blog.

Guest author of this blog is Luanne Lee of Your College Planning Coach.  She specializes in helping families find ways to fund college for themselves and their children.