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Educational Expenses And Financial Aid

When considering educational expenses in college, many people think only of tuition, books and lab fees, and room and board if one is to live on campus. There is more. Even if you are living at home while going to college, there are expenses incurred that are not paid to the college: clothing, personal expenses, transportation, etc., and the equivalent of room and board while living at home (it costs parents to feed and shelter you). TOTAL EDUCATIONAL EXPENSES amount to more than "college expenses" - the amount paid to the institution.

Total educational expenses, therefore, can be approximated per year.

Tuition and fees: stated in the college catalog.

Books and supplies: $1,000 to $1,500.

Room and board: stated in the catalog if living on-campus; about $1,500 if living at home.

Transportation: either daily to and from school if at home, or two round-trips per year to home town.

Personal Expenses: about $1,500 (shoes, clothing, haircut/beauty, laundry/dry cleaning, Sunday night meals if not provided at dormitory, recreation, etc.)

Educational expenses are real and, therefore, can be approximated like buying a used or new car - $4,000 to $23,000 per year WITHOUT the benefit of a trade-in.

Toward these expenses, students and parents are expected to contribute insofar as they are able from earnings and assets. There are standardized forms in use by college/university Financial Aid Officers which will indicate to that person and to the parents the total expected family contribution. Other than from possible assets (VA benefits, trust or annuity left by a relative, etc.), students are expected to contribute from yearly earnings. This amount is also determined by the college/university Financial Aid Officer.

Therefore:

Total Educational Expenses for an Academic Year — Expected Student/Family Contribution = Remaining Financial Need

and here is where the college/university Financial Aid Officer comes in.

Except for individual, industry/business and professional organization-sponsored, company/union-sponsored or foundation-sponsored scholarships, fellowships, loans, etc., approximately ninety percent (90%) of all financial aid available to students from undergraduate to post-doctoral levels is channeled through the offices of the Financial Aid Officer at the colleges, universities or other post-high school educational institutions.

The recommendation is made that you contact the Financial Aid Officer at the institution you wish to attend to find out what is available to you and what documents you should file with that office. You will probably be required to complete the college's or school's financial aid application form and submit information regarding your family's and your finances. This is usually accomplished by completing a standardized family or student (if no longer a dependent) financial information statement. Currently, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form most Texas institutions require to apply for federal financial aid. In some cases, a copy of the student's and parents' Income Tax Return may also be necessary. In all cases, some type of documentation is necessary for the Financial Aid Officer to determine your remaining financial need and which type or types of financial aid programs for which you are eligible.

Since financial aid is dependent upon admission at most institutions, it is recommended that you also contact the Admissions Office at an early date.

Secure the Application for Financial Aid early in January; complete and return it together with other required documents or information. Some institutions have a February/March deadline for applying, and most financial aid is allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

The Financial Aid Officer is a highly qualified professional with very specialized training in his/her field. He/she alone knows what financial aid is available and what is available to you. You must be guided by his/her advice and decisions.

In many cases, the college Financial Aid Officer will arrange and offer you, where possible, what is called a "financial aid package". This consists of two or more interrelated forms of financial aid: scholarships, grants, loans, and part-time work. If eligible for a financial aid package, a student can finance much of the educational expenses by being awarded a partial scholarship or grant, accepting a long-term, low-interest loan (a part of which may not have to be repaid if the loan has a forgiveness clause), and working a few hours per day. Availability of funds and eligibility to participate are determined in all cases by the Financial Aid Officer at the college/university.

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