Welcome to the AXS Companion to Common App! In this resource, we have combined printed and video explanations to help students understand how to apply to colleges and universities using Common App. This resource also contains links to additional resources that students might find helpful.
On this page of the AXS Companion, we have provided videos and tips related to financial aid that might be particularly helpful for your students and their parents. These resources can also be found in the student and parent pages of the AXS Companion.
Financial Aid Resources
In this video, we discuss why families should ignore the sticker price of a college. The sticker price is not what many students pay for college. Instead, what a student actually pays is determined by what the federal government and the college calculate based on parent and student income and assets as well as demographic factors. This video takes approximately 11 minutes.
In this video, we discuss the parts of a financial aid award and why students should apply for need-based financial aid. This video takes approximately 12 minutes.
In this video, we discuss using loans to help pay for college. Student loans are usually part of financial aid awards. We also discuss how to distinguish between reasonable and excessive debt. This video should take approximately 12 minutes.
In this video, we discuss merit aid, what it is, who gets it, and where to find it. This video should take approximately 12 minutes.
In this video, we discuss how to create a list of affordable colleges to apply to. There are three components of a smart college list: financial fit, social fit, and academic fit. We show students resources they can use to identify colleges that will be affordable for them and their family. This video should take approximately 25 minutes.
- Total Cost of Attendance (COA): The total “sticker price” of a college. The total COA includes tuition, fees, room and board, books, transportation and personal expenses.
- Net Price: The total cost of attendance minus all grants and scholarships. Grants and scholarships are free money that does not have to be paid back.
- Expected Family Contribution (EFC): Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is the amount of money that a student’s family is expected to contribute to college costs for one year.
- Need-based aid: Need-based aid includes scholarships and grants, work study, and subsidized loans that students may receive to help pay for college. Need-based aid is awarded based on a family’s financial need.
- FAFSA: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an application that must be completed annually by students in order to receive need-based financial aid. Almost every college uses FAFSA information to calculate the student’s eligibility for need-based aid.
- CSS Profile: An additional application for financial aid required by approximately 175 colleges and universities for students applying for financial aid. These colleges and universities will require both the FAFSA and the CSS Profile in order to determine the amount of financial aid a student qualifies for.
- Grants: A grant is a form of financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid.
- Loans: A student loan is money that you borrow to help pay for college. You must repay the loan as well as interest that accrues.
- Merit aid: Merit aid is non need-based financial aid that is awarded based on achievements related to things like academics, athletics, music or civic participation. Merit aid awards are not based on a family’s ability to pay.
- Work Study: Work study is a type of financial aid that provides part-time jobs for students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses.
Tips & Reminders
- Approximately 85% of students in the US do not pay the full sticker price for college. There is a good chance that a student will not have to pay the full sticker price for college.
- Most students will have to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to be considered for financial aid. Approximately 175 colleges and universities also require the CSS Profile, a second application for financial aid.
- Applying for financial aid with the FAFSA is free.
- Students with little or no demonstrated need should look for colleges that are generous with merit aid. Students with moderate to high financial need should look for colleges that are generous with need-based aid.
- To determine if a student has high, moderate, or low financial need, they must calculate their Expected Family Contribution (EFC). They can also calculate their expected costs at a particular college by using a Net Price Calculator (NPC) for that college. They can find links to these resources below.
- College Board Expected Family Contribution (EFC) Calculator
- FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
- CSS Profile – An additional financial aid application used by some colleges and universities
- Find colleges that:
- Meet 90% of financial need or more
- Are generous with merit aid or that have lower sticker prices
Big J Educational Consulting’s Domestic Financial Aid Chart